BY KEN WIEBE, WINNIPEG SUN Sept 18, 2016
PENTICTON, B.C. – – Pascal Vincent saw steps in the right direction.
The Winnipeg Jets slipped to 0-2 at the 2016 Young Stars Classic on Sunday afternoon in a 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks at the South Okanagan Events Centre, but after falling 4-1 to the Calgary Flames in the tournament opener, this was a much more determined effort.
“Overall, it was a cleaner game than the last game. We got better as the game went on,” said Vincent, head coach of the Manitoba Moose and the man running the bench for the Jets during the prospects tournament. “It’s a baby step. Now we have to implement the details of our game. Creating battles and getting involved there..
Canucks defenceman Troy Stecher created some space and fired a shot from the right point that led to a rebound goal from Danny Moynihan at 11:16 of the first period.
Then the Canucks got a buzzer-beater with .3 seconds to go in the frame as Cole Cassels pounced on a rebound in front of the net.
Michael Spacek scored a beautiful goal to cut into the deficit, as he took advantage of a turnover by Canucks defenceman Olli Juolevi before walking in and beating Michael Garteig with a slick forehand deke at 3:37 of the third period.
Jimmy Lodge showed some soft hands by burying a shot in tight to even the score at 8:15 of the third, but the Canucks got the game-winning goal from Brandon product and Brandon Wheat Kings winger Tyler Coulter two minutes and 32 seconds later.
“It’s disappointing (to lose). But we put some good plays together and thought it was starting to come,” said Jets forward Brendan Lemieux.
The dynamic duo of Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic wasn’t quite as dominant for the Jets, but they still managed to create plenty of opportunities.
The best one of the contest came in the final minute with the Jets goalie pulled in favour of an extra attacker.
Connor created a seam and found Roslovic for a one-timer that was stopped by the right pad of Garteig.
A replay showed that Coulter was offside, since Jets defenceman made a diving effort to prevent it from being a direct pass but video replay isn’t used at this event, so the goal counted.
“At 0-2, we’re going to want to get a win under our belt. That’s going to be important,” said Jets defenceman Nelson Nogier. “Just try to end things off on a good note.”
After catching the attention of the Canucks during the summer development camp, Coulter earned an invite to suit up for the Young Stars tournament as well.
While Coulter is expected to return to the Brandon Wheat Kings for his overage season, he’s trying to do enough to earn an NHL contract down the road.
“He played a heavy game, a hard game,” said Utica Comets head coach Travis Green, who is running the Canucks bench during this tournament. “He’s got a bigger body (six-feet and 195 pounds) that was getting engaged. I don’t know a lot about him, but what I saw, I liked.”
The Jets close out the tournament on Monday afternoon (1 p.m CDT) with a game against the Edmonton Oilers, who are 2-0 after victories over the Canucks and Calgary Flames.
“We’re going to focus on the first 10 minutes and go from there,” said Vincent. “If you have the puck, you don’t need to be physical. We want to get the puck back as much as we can. But I want to see our forecheck. I want to see our guys finishing their checks, that’s for sure.
“When you spot the puck in the proper area of the ice, you allow yourself to be physical.”
Forward Axel Blomqvist and defenceman Matt Murphy were the healthy scratches for the Jets on Sunday and they’re both expected to play against the Oilers.
Tournament invitees Antoine Waked and Kristians Rubins had their moments when they suited up for the first time in the event.
Waked is a strong skater and got involved physically, while Rubins (who will play for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL this season) did a decent job of moving the puck out of his zone.
Jets goalie Jamie Phillips turned aside 25 of the 28 shots he faced and he’ll serve as the backup against the Oilers as Mikhail Berdin, chosen in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, gets his first start.
Berdin is expected to play the full game.