Vancouver Canucks prospect Dane Fox showed Friday night he likes to fire the puck.
In their opening game of the Young Stars Classic against the Edmonton Oilers prospects at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Fox banged home a feed by Hunter Shinkaruk to get the Canucks on the scoreboard.
“He’s a shooter, you can see that.,” said Canucks American Hockey League coach Travis Green. “I like that he wants to get the puck to the net.”
“First game back it feels good getting that goal,” said Fox, who sniped 64 goals in 67 games for the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League last season playing alongside Connor Brown and Connor McDavid. “I think my teammates made it pretty easy for me. Obviously I had some butter flies. Playing with the guys I was with, play your game and they will help you out a lot.”
Fox, who was signed by the Canucks as an undrafted free agent, had a few other chances and said that playing with Bo Horvat and Shinkaruk, it’s his job to finish.
“I want them to have faith in me so I want to capitalize on my scoring chances,” said Fox, who finished his five-year OHL career with 118 goals and 226 points in 243 games. “The guys are good enough hockey players to find me. It’s your job to get open.”
Fox, who finished the game with four shots and a roughing minor after coming to Shinkaruk’s defense when roughed up by an Oiler, made sure to keep his game simple and within his skill level. He added with the first game and a large crowd (4,408), some guys want to do too much and be too cute.
“I came into tonight’s game confident and comfortable,” he said.
Green said Fox’s play was average and “looked a little nervous with the puck sometimes.”
However, the Utica Comets coach added that like several of the players, Fox hasn’t been in this situation which has him facing a higher pace.
“You are coming out of junior. You’re a good player in junior,” said Green, “it’s not just him. You have guys that have played in the NHL, played in the AHL. It’s going to be a shock to a lot of players.”
Green added that once Fox pushes his pace over the weekend, progression will be seen.
While with the Otters, Fox credited assistant coach Vince Laise and McDavid for helping him improve. Laise talked to him about work ethic and doing small things like stopping in front of the net. From McDavid, Fox learned to do things at a high speed and to keep his feet moving, play the puck with poise.
“He’s a treat to watch,” said Fox, adding it was nice to learn from the 17-year-old. “You think he’s good in a game, just watch him in practice. This guy is the real deal. He’s unbelievable.”
Along with playing with the teammates he had last season, Fox said another contributor to his success was taking care of his body, which is most important.
Fox and the Canucks ended up losing to the Oilers 4-3 in overtime. Curtis Valk led with two goals. Green said it wasn’t a pretty game by either team and said it wasn’t a good first period by his group.
“We had a lot of guys that were hesitant, nervous, not very confident and our goalie (Austin Lotz) played great in the first period (saving 13 shots),” said Green. “On a brighter side, I liked how we battled back. stayed with it and got the game to overtime.”
The Canucks next game is Sunday at 2 p.m. when they take on the Winnipeg Jets.
In the opening game of the tournament, the Calgary Flames erased a 3-1 deficit to win 6-4. They scored four goals in the second period. Scoring for the Flames were Josh Jooris with two, John Ramage, Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Grandlund and Michael Ferland. For the Jets, it was Austen Brassard, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jimmy Lodge and Ben Walker.