Canucks Army Postgame: Thank You North Dakota

The University of North Dakota hockey gods were at Rogers Arena tonight. Fresh off a NCAA national championship, former teammates Troy Stecher and Drake “could have been a Canuck” Caggiula were on the score sheet tonight. Both had as big of an impact tonight as they did with their North Dakota team last year. The first home game of the season was a night to remember for the Canucks young guns and new players.

With 1 goal and 2 assists tonight, Richmond, BC native Troy Stecher carried the Canucks in their 5-3 win over Edmonton.

The Statistics

Troy Stecher: 1G, 2A

Alex Edler: 3A

Anton Rodin: 1G, 1A

Brendan Gaunce, Joe LaBate, Erik Gudbranson: 1G

Michael Carcone, James Sheppard: 1A

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Game Summary

The first period was all North Dakota as both Troy Stecher and Drake Caggiula had 2 points. As if Jordan Subban had another reason to worry, Stecher is certainly making a name for himself each day that he spends in Vancouver. 

The media has not been shy in saying Brendan Gaunce was a stand-out at training camp, and Willie Desjardins added another compliment by calling him the best player in their intersquad scrimmage. Scoring the Canucks’ 2-1 goal, what else does he have to do to solidify a spot on opening night? Emerson Etem may need to watch out because Gaunce has his eye on being the 4th line LW.

Putting the Canucks up 3-2 was 2011 4th-round pick Joe LaBate. He looks big on the ice, not surprising since he stands at 6’5 and 205 pounds. He had 20 points (10G, 10A) in 66 games for Utica last season.

Thatcher Demko made his much anticipated Canucks debut tonight, replacing Ryan Miller in the middle of the 2nd period. He took a penalty for playing the puck out of his parameters, but let’s forget that happened. Sporting a brand new mask, it has quite the resemblance to that of Cory Schneider’s from a few seasons ago.

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On the Canucks’ fourth goal of the night, it was none other than Troy Stecher who set up fellow newcomer Anton Rodin. Alex Edler made a creative no-look, behind the back pass to set up that play.

Finally, Erik Gudbranson hammered the nail into the coffin as he put the Canucks up 5-3 on an empty netter.

Game Notes

– Alex Edler, Erik Gudbranson, and Derek Dorsett wore the ‘A’ tonight.

– The Gudbranson-Hutton pairing looked good tonight, especially since they were against Connor McDavid’s line. McDavid had zero points and was a -1 tonight.

– Despite having the lowest total TOI, free-agent signee Michael Carcone showed flashes of skill tonight. He threw a team-leading 8 hits and, at one point, blew past Jordan Eberle in the neutral zone.

– With 1 goal and 2 assists tonight, Troy Stecher is making life mighty difficult for Luca Sbisa.

– Markus Granlund led the forwards with 20:53 TOI.

– Olli Juolevi played 15:22 and had 1 shot on goal.

Player of the Game


Is this even a surprise?

  • pheenster

    there were enough forwards impressing last night that virtanen starting in the ahl is not out of the question even if it is just a stinger.

    but let’s see how the preseason proves out.

  • Cageyvet

    Stecher was great, obviously, and I thought Gaunce really stood out.

    Many of the veterans played well, but I think the line of Etem-Granlund-Dorsett was not even played correctly to evaluate them. Too much ice in too many situations where you wouldn’t use them in the regular season.

    Dorsett was uninspiring, if capable, Granlund was pretty good, and Etem wasn’t as bad as many have said, IMO, but he was nothing to write home about either.

    Players such as Labate, Carcone and D’Aoust looked to be intriguing, destined for Utica but with some upside potential.

    Personally, I hope we pass on all the PTO guys, there’s no room for middling players with no upside, given their age.

  • LTFan

    The Canucks have sent Carcone and D’Aoust to the Utica training camp. As mentioned previously I thought Carcone should have been given a couple of more exhibition games. He should be back later in the season.

    • Cageyvet

      Back in place of whom exactly? There is not room on an NHL roster for the 375 players that Vancouver invited to camp. Hell, there may not be room on UTICA’s roster for all these players.

      You should be hoping that players, like Carcone have a reasonably productive first pro year in the AHL, not fantasizing that they will be NHL roster players.

      • LTFan

        “Back in place of whom exactly?” I have no idea at the moment but someone will be out of the Canucks lineup somewhere in the season and IMO he should get a call up. This is based on what I saw in the Prospects tournament in Penticton and of him in the game last night. Maybe for only a few games or maybe more. Depends on how he plays.

        I am not fantasizing that I think Carcone will be an NHL roster player – where did you get that from? I simply said that he should be back later in the season. You are very creative in reading a heck of a lot more into what I said and what you think(?) I said.

  • BOliever

    i’m still giddy about last nite’s win & being there in person for juolevi, stecher & demko’s debut.

    gudbranson: i’m sold. he was rock solid. it was cool to see him lined up vs lucic for faceoffs in the canucks end.
    stecher: what hasn’t been said about this kid? i really liked his hustle & i hope he makes the team!
    juolevi: smart decisions, smooth passes & never looked rushed. i’m excited to see him develop.
    gaunce: he skated like a boss. i can see why the media’s been raving about him. this could be his year to break through!
    labate: feisty! and that goal was a beauty.

  • Cageyvet

    actually that would be a great way for the sedins to extend their career. henrik “retires” and daniel has to go the dressing room every night around the ten minute mark of the second period for an equipment repair and comes out looking much fresher.

  • TheRealPB

    That’s a lot of excitement over ONE preseason game that the vets are only probably half into. I don’t like Lucic in the least and i think that was a terrible signing (both on term and amount) but it’s not like he was trying that hard. Also, while they iced a lot of regulars, that wasn’t exactly the Oilers top D.

    It’ll be good to have Stetcher get solid in the top four in Utica. And I think people are getting ahead of themselves on Etem and Granlund — they were also tasked with a different responsibility than some of the other players. I’d still like to see Gaunce get a bit more time in Utica to solidify his role and confidence which has clearly grown in the last year.

    I’m mostly interested to see which NHL player will get sent to the AHL this year. My guess would be Sbisa — the management group showed they were not shy in doing so with Higgins (a player they inherited) or Prust (a player they acquired) last year, so I’d hope for the same this year. Much better upside on Pedan, Tryamkin and Larsen for the bottom pairing rotation. Really like Gudbrandson, I’m getting a sense of why he was so popular with teammates and fans in FLA.

  • wojohowitz

    There`s no way Stecher makes this team because either Tryamkin or Pedan would get lost thru waivers or to the KHL. Give him three months in Utica and both Russians can be properly evaluated.

    Etem looks good as a big guy who can skate but he never seems to accomplish anything like he almost never wins puck battles.

    Edler looked like he is motivated like maybe being excluded from the WC really pessed him off. A big injury free season would mean a lot.

    Labate was noticeable but the penalties…oh oh. The Canucks need some coarse sandpaper to rub the opposition the wrong way but at 6`4 and 190 he might be the second coming of Craig Coxe.

  • LTFan

    Regular season games against teams not named the “Oilers” are a step up from preseason so no point exposing guys unnecessarily. Team is better holding on to guys like Pedan and letting guys like Stecher and even Gaunce get some more reps at the AHL level. Start of the season will be pressure packed so better the young guys get called up after an injury or later in the season.

    Would love to see a Utica first line of Carcone – Gaunce – Jake.

    I liked what I saw from Skille and Lebate as well.