The return of the Young Stars Classic couldn’t have gone much better.
Penticton is juiced with hockey fans, the arena looks amazing, and the Vancouver Canucks took care of business on day one with a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames.
Let’s dive into three takeaways from the fun Friday night.
The streets knew about Silovs
There’s a lot of hope that the 21-year-old Latvian netminder is going to take a big step in his development this season. Arturs Silovs has dealt with a tough couple of years. He barely played during the COVID year and was in a tough situation last year with Abbotsford as the third goalie who ultimately ended his year in the ECHL.
The kid just wants to play, and play he did on Friday night.
“I was practicing so much in the past couple of years and finally [being] back playing games is always fun,” said Silovs. “It feels good. I’ve worked so hard every single day basically. You’re on the wave and you just keep going.”
Silovs definitely rode the wave on Friday night as he had a busy first 30 minutes of the game. He faced a lot of shots from the slot area but stood tall and was able to keep the game tied 0-0 heading into the third period.
The second 30 minutes of the game were pretty slow for Silovs. He only faced four shots in the third period as the Canucks poured on the offence and spent most of the period in the offensive zone.
Silovs is preparing to be fighting for starts in Abbotsford this season and beginning the Young Stars tournament with a shutout is surely going to be a confidence booster before he faces NHL shots at Canucks main camp up in Whistler next weekend.
All in all, we had a big goalie matchup with Dustin Wolf patrolling the crease for the Flames, but Silovs came out on top. The extra work he has been putting in with Ian Clark this offseason is beginning to show an early payoff.
Let’s hope he can ride that wave all the way into the AHL season.
Arsh from Surrey
Even when the game was without a goal after 40 minutes, a strong case could be made that local kid Arshdeep Bains was the best player on the ice.
“Pretty special,” said Bains when asked about what it was like to score in his first game wearing a Canucks jersey. “I think just a bit of relief. I got it all the way and [now] we [can] just keep going to get better every day.”
With his parents in attendance, the Surrey-born winger scored the opening goal of the game on the night where he got to wear his favourite team’s jersey.
The feeling in the rink was immaculate.
Bains was grinding all game long — making good, smart plays in both the offensive and defensive zones. Then, with the game still scoreless, Bains drove to the net and cleaned up a rebound off of a Chase Wouters shot.
From there, the Canucks faithful took over the South Okanagan Events Centre. The crowd erupted and eventually broke into a “Bruce, there it is” chant.
The Canucks needed to break through on Wolf and there was something special about Bains being the guy who was able to solve the Flames’ top goaltending prospect. He worked hard in the game and was rewarded for his efforts. During the post-game media availability, Bains was calm and focused on getting better as the weekend goes on.
He did enjoy playing an actual game with full speed, full contact and an arena full of fans.
“When you’re playing a different team, it’s such a quicker pace. It’s a lot more competitive,” said Bains. “And I think just the next level, in general, is competitive and quicker. So, getting out there getting used to it — it’s pretty nice. And I felt pretty good out there.”
One thing we have learned about Bains in the time since the Canucks signed him as an undrafted WHLer is that his work ethic is what has got him to this level. The kid works extremely hard in practice and finds another level at game time. His line, which had Chase Wouters and Linus Karlsson as the round-up of his trio, had a lot of long shifts in the offensive zone and was able to wear down the opposition as the night went on.
This line was great together and could end up being a trio that could stick together once the AHL season begins. We liked their play in the defensive zone and that is what they will need to do to have success in Abbotsford. It was a strong showing for Bains and it’s obvious that he loved scoring a goal for the team he grew up loving.
Colliton collects crucial counsel on Canucks coming to camp
On top of having a lot of new faces in the blue and green, the Canucks new AHL coach Jeremy Colliton was behind the bench for the first time.
Replacing Trent Cull as the AHL head coach, Colliton had a lot to take away from the Friday night game.
The Young Stars is as much a showcase as it is a tournament. You want to win games, of course, but it’s more about learning what these prospects can do and using the knowledge that you acquire to evaluate what the next steps are for these young players. Colliton commented on the balance of winning and teaching this weekend.
“We’re trying to do both,” said Colliton. “If this game would have been 6-1 either way, we don’t get as much out of it. So we play to win. It’s the little things that matter. The little things are going to help you play at a higher level. You got to do them now, you can’t just flip a switch. So we’re treating it like we’re doing everything we can to win and the little things do matter. And obviously, there’s maybe a little more rope for these guys and they’re going to make mistakes but we give them feedback and send them back out there. But ultimately, we are trying to win.”
Colliton spoke about wanting to push the guys who played in the AHL last season to be leaders and we saw that when the Canucks took a 2-0 lead on a goal from Tristen ‘The Dog‘ Nielsen.
The Canucks need to have players like Nielsen in their organization to push their fellow young players and lead by example — like a group of sled dogs working together to pull as a group and improve together. This mentality is why Director of Player Development Ryan Johnson has brought in players like Chase Wouters, Nils Åman, Arshdeep Bains, and the big dog Tristen Nielsen.
These players aren’t top prospects but they are good, young players who are hungry for a pro hockey career and make things interesting for an AHL team.
Colliton is going to have a younger group than we’ve seen in the past with the Canucks’ minor league affiliate. The new coach is going to need to squeeze everything out of these young players to find success. And just like raising a puppy, it will take a strong balance of discipline and timely rewarding to have success.
It was a great night to begin what could end up being an amazing weekend. The Canucks‘ youngsters passed their first test and will now set their sights on riding into the weekend with momentum.
Saturday is a day off for the Canucks as their next game is Sunday at 2:00 pm against the Jets’ Young Stars which features high-end star power with first-round picks Brad Lambert (2022), Chaz Lucius (2021), and Cole Perfetti (2020).
The Canucks will have a practice on Saturday morning and Danila Klimovich is expected to speak to the media with Arturs Silovs at his side to help translate.
Stay tuned to CanucksArmy for all the news and notes from the Young Stars Tournament.