McDonough’s shot and Alriksson’s big game not enough as Canucks’ Young Stars fall in shootout to Jets
2 months ago
Ah, yes, the highs and lows of Canucks hockey fandom.
For 52 minutes, the Vancouver Canucks’ prospect group made a Winnipeg Jets’ team look like they had all met 15 minutes before puck drop. For 52 minutes, the Canucks hammered Winnipeg goaltending prospect Thomas Milic with shots as if he owed them all lunch money. It can not be overstated just how soundly in control the Canucks were through 85% of this game.
After six power play opportunities and 41 shots on goal, the Canucks had generated and held a seemingly insurmountable two-goal lead. Then, after a couple of failed Canuck power play opportunities, the wheels fell off the bus long enough to allow one of the wilder third-period comebacks you’ll ever see.
Like my good pal Scarra once said, “Up until they [lost] the game, they’re winning.”
Let’s get into the game action and see how the Canucks prospects looked when they were winning, right up until when they lost!
Starting things off for Vancouver was invitee Dalyn Wakely, who set the tempo early for Vancouver, driving down the wing to record the first shot of the game.
Moments later that same shift, Wakely posted up at the right circle to play ‘tac’ on a tic-tac-toe play by Max Sasson for an Aidan McDonough tap-in. Sadly, McDonough missed the tap-in off Wakely’s pass. But it was a great first shift of the tournament for the 19-year-old centerman.
On his line’s next shift, Aatu Räty sprang Wakely into the offensive zone with a Sedin-like redirect through the neutral zone.
At one point, Akito Hirose made mincemeat out of the Jets’ prospects, skating end-to-end, shaking two checks through the neutral zone, gaining the o-zone, and chipping the puck in for Sasson before coasting back to his spot on the right side of the blue line.
For the second straight game, the Canucks’ puck management looked infinitely better than their opponents. Even simple zone exit passes were proving difficult to accomplish for the Jets. Josh Bloom benefitted from those struggles. Early in his game, he was able to pick off an exit pass and spark a lengthy period of sustained pressure in the offensive zone for Vancouver.
Despite the overall success of the Canucks, the fourth line was one of the few trios that struggled to make use of their minutes. Through the opening 10 minutes, it was against the line of Vilmer Alriksson, Cooper Walker, and Braeden Bowman that the Jets found their only success.
Fortunately, that pressure didn’t result in much except Alriksson slipping a hit attempt from Winnipeg’s Nikita Chibrikov. Later in the game, the fourth line was stapled to the bench, seeing very little action during the Jets’ third-period bounceback.
Six minutes into the game, Räty set up the best scoring chance to that point with a slick pass to Wakely for a shot that rang hard off netminder Thomas Milic’s mask.
Hirose showed off his rush defence, standing up Brad Lambert before separating him from the puck. Unfortunately, Hirose’s exit pass got lost in big man Alriksson’s skates, leading to more cycle time for the Jets against the Canucks’ fourth line.
Fortunately, midway through the period, Simon Kubicek drew the game’s first penalty, handing the Canucks their first power play of the game.
PP1: Räty, Bains, Klimovich, Bowman, Brzustewicz
After some early puck management issues, the Canucks power play eventually established a cycle long enough to score their third power play goal of the tournament, a tap-in goal from Arshdeep Bains at the front of the net off a point shot from Akito Hirose.
GOAL – 1-0 Vancouver Canucks – Arshdeep Bains (1) from Akito Hirose (1) and Aatu Räty (1)
Räty ought to have two assists for the goal sequence, as the initial cycle only began because he’d managed to hold the zone after stopping a clearing attempt at the blue line. If he doesn’t hold the line there, the Canucks likely leave the first period tied nil-nil.
Not long after Bains’ power play tally, the Canucks’ tried to make it 2-0 off an identical play. This time, Bains was the setup man for Hirose’s point shot, with Räty screening and crashing the net for a rebound.
Like Nikita Tolopilo against the Flames’ prospects, the Prince George Cougars’ Ty Young didn’t see much action during his first period of play, with most of his big saves coming in the final five minutes of the period.
First, Young needed to make a clean stop on Daniel Torgesson following a lost faceoff in the d-zone.
Then, Young had to rely on his quick reflexes to get his pads down on a dangerous chance from Brad Lambert.
After the Jets’ late flurry, the Jets’ problems exiting the zone returned. Snapping up a weak exit pass, Bains nearly got his second goal of the night. After capitalizing on a weak pass through the neutral zone, Bains raced into the offensive zone for a quick shot off Milic’s pads.
For all the Klim-heads out there, you know we caught his dog-tired backchecking effort that broke up a Jets’ odd-man rush and sent the Canucks back the other way.
The Canucks resumed their shellacking of Milic early in the second.
Josh Bloom raced into the offensive zone on a two-on-one with Danila Klimovich, setting up the Belarussian winger with a softball pitch of a lob pass.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Canucks had outshot the Jets’ prospects 36-13. The Jets skaters were so thoroughly outmatched that it started to look like watching a team of drop-in players against a high-level NCAA club. That the Jets managed to force overtime and a shootout is nothing short of amazing. Thomas Milic deserves all the credit for this one.
Though they eventually squandered the lead, it was fun watching the Canucks’ prospects have a great time showing off and picking their competition apart for two straight periods.
Winnipeg’s Milic was called to heroics often during the second period, making one of the game’s best saves of the night on a Dalyn Wakely redirect attempt off of a pass from Kirill Kudrayatsev.
Past the midway point of the period, Hunter Brzustewicz drew the game’s second penalty of the day, a hooking minor against Connor Levis after activating off the blue line for a drive toward the goal.
PP1: McDonough, Sasson, Alriksson, Hirose, Johansson
Early on the power play, Aidan McDonough was zipping heatseaking missiles just wide of the net.
After a shot on goal from Max Sasson, the big man, Vilmer Alriksson, got caught up in some post-whistle shenanigans after giving a shove to Winnipeg’s Elias Salomonsson.
The second power play unit hopped over the boards following Sasson’s chance. Despite a few chances, the 2nd unit failed to mount any dangerous looks and even gave up a dangerous shorthanded chance to Artemi Kniazev.
Kniazev followed his shorthanded chance with a delay-of-game penalty that gave the Canucks their third power play opportunity.
That opportunity failed to yield a goal.
Fortunately, the Jets got into more penalty trouble when they took a too-man-men penalty with less than three minutes to go in the second.
The third straight power play of the period was the charm, with Vilmer Alriksson tying up the puck along the left wall long enough to draw in all four Jets’ penalty killers, creating a Grand Canyon-esque chasm of space for Aidan McDonough to wire one home off a brilliant pass from Hirose.
GOAL – 2-0 Vancouver Canucks – Aidan McDonough (1) from Akito Hirose (1) and Vilmer Alriksson (1)
Moments later, Marc Gatcomb drew a high-sticking minor against the Jets’ Nikita Chibrikov to give the Canucks their fourth power play of the period.
The final minute of the period saw more sustained shooting from Vancouver, with Milic making an incredible buzzer-beater save with his left pad on Akito Hirose.
The period was over mercifully, with Milic having made 36 saves on 38 shots.
This was when the game started to fall apart for Vancouver. Exhaustion appeared to set in after running up the shot clock through the first 40 minutes. Over the final 25 minutes, the Canucks mustered just four additional shots on goal.
The bad vibes began early, with Aatu Räty caught in a brutal collision with Winnipeg’s Daniel Torgesson. Räty was able to skate to the bench without assistance and returned shortly after on the Canucks’ penalty kill.
Kudrayatsev broke up the run of Winnipeg penalties when he took a holding minor while engaged in a net-front puck battle against Henri Nikkanen.
The only d-men to not play on the PK against the Jets were Brzustewicz and Hirose. Arshdeep Bains double-shifted the first half of the PK, first on a pair with Aatu Räty, then with Marc Gatcomb. Third up on the forward PK rotation were Cooper Walker and Max Sasson, who immediately generated a shorthanded rush.
Late in the Canucks’ PK, Cole McWard took the Canucks’ second penalty of the day, handing Winnipeg a brief two-man advantage.
Though Brad Lambert nearly scored accidentally, the Canucks PK unit drew a four-minute high-sticking double-minor against Winnipeg’s Connor McClennon.
Ironically, the Jets found their groove during the period of 4-on-4 hockey. Until the expiry of McWard’s penalty, the Canucks had spent most of the 4-on-4 struggling to break out of their d-zone.
Though the Jets couldn’t muster anything that dangerous, the momentum had clearly shifted in their favour. Even when the Canucks went back to work on the power play, they seemingly lost their edge. Then, late in the power play, Artemi Kniazev drew a penalty against Aatu Räty for <checks notes> something.
We’ve rewatched the GIF 50 times. We’re still unsure what he did to deserve being sent to the penalty box.
Alas, the Canucks PK stood strong.
Upon the return to 5-on-5, the game began to nosedive for Vancouver. With eight minutes left in the period, the Jets finally broke through Ty Young’s defences, with Jacob Julien hammering a trickling puck over the goal line to put Winnipeg within arms reach.
GOAL – 2-1 Vancouver Canucks – Jacob Julien (1)
Not long after Julien’s goal, Marc Gatcomb went to the box for an undisciplined boarding penalty against Colby Barlow while defending inside the Canucks’ d-zone.
It didn’t take long for Barlow to get his vengeance. Daniel Torgesson played hero to Jets fans everywhere with a filthy no-look behind-the-back reversal to Barlow at the top of Young’s crease. Young was caught looking in the wrong direction, gifting Barlow one-half of the net for the equalizer.
GOAL – 2-2 Tie – Colby Barlow (1) from Daniel Torgesson (1)
Stifling the Canucks power plays, Milic standing on his head, and the two goals in two minutes galvanized the Jets. They played like a completely different team in the third period, especially during the final six minutes. The Canucks’ rush offence was nullified, and the Jets’ break-out game, which was nonexistent through the first 55 minutes, seemed to finally find its stride.
The two teams traded end-to-end rush plays, with the Jets getting the better of all the exchanges.
In the dying minutes of the period, the Jets nearly took the lead off several awkward bounces. Despite being shoved to the ice by Jacob Maillet, Danny Zhilkin managed to curl the puck back toward the crease. The puck somehow redirected off Filip Johansson’s skate, trickling dangerously toward the goal line. Were it not for Kudrayatsev’s sweeping play at the goal line, the Jets may have completed their comeback slightly earlier!
Jeremy Colliton rolled out an all-NCAA trio of Sasson, Hirose, and McDonough to start 3-on-3 overtime. For the first minute of OT, the Canucks suffocated the Jets with possession and dangerous setups.
Next up was a trio of McWard, Bains, and Räty, who followed suit and spent the next minute controlling the puck on a string against an exhausted Jets group.
Next for Vancouver was Klimovich, Johansson, and Gatcomb, who nearly ended it off a shot from Klimovich and a rebound attempt from Gatcomb.
Gatcomb’s dangerous chance sprang the Jets’ Chaz Lucius and Colby Barlow deep into the Canucks’ zone on a two-on-none. Ty Young kept the Canucks alive, deflecting a dangerous shot from Lucius with the edge of his glove.
Later in OT, Young again came up huge for Vancouver, making a monstrous poke-check save on Nikita Chibrikov.
With 42 seconds left in the period, Hirose got caught sticking his leg out on Nikita Chibrikov, gifting the Jets a 4-on-3 power play opportunity.
That’s a big no-no, Akito.
Maybe Hirose was looking to pad Young’s highlight reel. With 10 seconds left in the game, Young made another game-saving stop on a Barlow one-timer, allowing Räty to sweep the puck down the length of the ice to force the game to a shootout.
After 65 minutes of play, Milic had made 39 saves on 41 stops.
Aidan McDonough, cutting on goal from right to left, scored first to give the Canucks the edge in the shootout.
Winnipeg’s Nikita Chibrikov cut down the left wing but made too many moves in the crease, losing the puck on his backhand attempt.
Danila Klimovich opted for a super slow-mo approach but, similar to Chibrikov, stickhandled one too many times and lost the puck.
Colby Barlow kept it simple to keep Winnipeg’s comeback hopes alive. No dekes, just finding an opening under Young’s pads to tie the shootout at one apiece.
Arshdeep Bains made an incredible move to get Milic sprawling. Unfortunately, Milic responded in kind with a phenomenal glove save on Bains’ backhand to put the game on Danny Zhilkin’s stick.
Before Bains had even returned to the bench, Zhilkin found the same opening as Barlow, squeaking a low shot through Young’s five-hole to complete the miraculous comeback for Winnipeg.
Sounds from the rink
Following their disappointing comeback loss, our boots-on-the-ground reporter Chris Faber asked Bains what he’s liked about the Canucks’ play through two games. “I think we’re pretty resilient,” Bains expanded to say. “We’re unselfish, and we play pretty much the right way. There’s nobody trying to impress. They’re trying to play under [Colliton’s] system, he’s playing everyone evenly, and we’re playing good hockey.”
Arshdeep Bains was pretty level-headed about the team’s performance overall against the Jets, “I think we came out pretty strong for the first two periods; we played our game. In the third, they came out pretty hard and got back into it. Ultimately, we lost, so we’ll learn from it.”
Colliton was about as critical as you can be for a for-fun tournament like Young Stars. “I thought the first two periods were pretty solid,” Colliton elaborated, “we probably needed to score more than we did just to kill the game. We knew we were going to have to [PK] in the third because that’s the way it is. I thought we didn’t manage the puck as well tonight as we did in game one.”
Colliton maintained his glass-half-full mentality when explaining why a loss like Sunday’s against the Jets was okay. “It’s a learning experience for a lot of guys on how to kill off games. We easily could have won it anyway. But those are things we’ll talk about, and it’s an opportunity for guys to learn from it.”
The most critical Colliton got was during a description of his team’s work on the penalty kill. “I think we did an okay job. We didn’t clear the puck like you need to to finish things off.” Not wanting to sound too negative, Colliton added the caveat that “we’re putting guys in situations to see how they do, and some guys take the opportunity, and some don’t.”
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
The first star has to go to Winnipeg’s Thomas Milic. Sorry, I know you want to see Canucks skaters getting the accolades. But Milic was the reason Winnipeg won this game. He single-handedly made a third-period comeback possible for Winnipeg. 39 saves, including two in the shootout!
The second star belongs to Aidan McDonough. No notes. Check the tape on his goals. They were nasty.
Our third star goes to Aatu Räty. His playmaking was on display all game. The assist on Bains’ opening goal was a bonus. He plays a quiet game, but if you’re paying attention to the little things he does, you’ll realize he’s very effective at sparking and denying offence.
An honourable mention goes to Ty Young, who wasn’t needed often through the first 40 minutes but was leaned on heavily as the wheels came off the Canucks play during the third period and overtime.
The Canucks are back at it tomorrow at 1 PM PST for a matinee feature against the Edmonton Oilers’ prospect group.
Recent articles from Cody Severtson