Friday sucked, and I mean really sucked! Getting up at 4 in the morning to drive a million miles just to watch the Canucks get pummeled by the McDavid led Oilers... On top of that, the crowd here in Penticton is very heavily populated with Oiler fans, making this enemy territory for the host Canucks. It's not all doom and gloom though, this is a great event in a beautiful city with lots of things to see and do!
Flames 3, Jets 1
The first game of the tournament featured the Winnipeg Jets led by Nick Ehlers and the Calgary Flames starring
1819 year old Sam Bennett.
On paper, the Jets have a ton of talent in Penticton and should have walked all over the Flames prospects. In practice. the Flames seemed to be more committed to playing a team game than the Jets. At times it looked like the Jets weren't interested in playing because the entire team disappeared for long stretches. The Flames prevailed 3-1, although it could easily have been a 5 or 6 goal difference.
Brendan Lemieux, F (WPG): Claude's son was, well the son of Claude. He was an Uber-pest all game! He lined up big hits, antagonized the opposition by being a pest and potting Winnipeg's lone goal.
Eric Comrie, G (WPG): Playing the second half of the game, Comrie came in and shut the door. He was calm, cool and collected in the crease.
Sam Bennett, C (CAL): The 19 year old version of Sam Bennett is a bit more surly! He was more physically engaged and showcased why he was a top pick in the 2014 draft.
Connor Helleybuyck, G (WPG): Man was he shaky to start this game! Giving up a weak goal early on. Seems like he goes out of his way to make plays with his blocker instead of using his trapper.
Oliver Kylington, D (CAL): There's a reason the Swede fell to the tail end of the second round! He is very, very undersized, and definitely needs to pack on 20 or 30 more pounds to reach NHL size. Kylington left the game with what's being called a minor injury after being obliterated on the end boards in the first period.
Oilers 8, Canucks 2
The score tells a story, and it isn't pretty... But there's a silver lining here: we played the style of game that we wanted to. Yeah it didn't work out so well for us, but the Oiler team is a bit more veteran laden than ours... There's something to be said for having more experienced players in your line-up.
Eetu Laurikainen, G (EDM): This game could have been a 8-5 final if it weren't for the Finn holding the fort for the Oilers.
Jake Virtanen, W (VAN): As per Linden: Jake played a 'spicy' game. The Abby Kid was a wrecking ball (insert Miley Cyrus reference here). If there was a player to be hit, big V was the man to deliver it... Darnell Nurse's jaw flapping too much? Virtanen was ready to close it for him.
Connor McDavid, C (EDM): Maybe not his best game ever, but he still showed glimpses of why people consider him the second coming of Gretzky. His speed and puck control was impressive.
Ben Hutton, D (VAN): Hutton was incredibly steady anchoring an overmatched defense. How he managed to maintain an even +/- in that game is a testament to his performance.
Brendan Gaunce, F (VAN): Remember him? He was the lone offensive bright spot for the Canucks. His skating looked improved from last year, and his ability to drive the play in the offensive zone was much needed!