The Vancouver Canucks prospects got outgunned by the Edmonton Oilers 8-2 in the South Okanagan Events Centre Friday night.
Leon Draisaitl was credited with the winner and added an assist, while Connor McDavid scored the Oilers’ sixth goal and assisted on a Darnell Nurse goal. The second game of the Canucks Young Stars Classic attracted a crowd of 5,500.
The Canucks fired 36 shots at the Oilers, 17 against Eetu Laurikainen, who turned aside each one, while Keven Bouchard allowed two goals on 15 shots.
“I thought our chances were pretty grade A,” said Canuck Brendan Gaunce, who scored once and set up another. “I got a great pass from (Jared) McCann in the slot and I hit the post.”
Gaunce then found McCann for a chance that missed and said he was happy with the chances they created.
“It was just a matter of going in and not going in. I think that every chance they had that was kind of Grade A went in for them,” he said. “I think that was the big difference.”
Where the Canucks matched the Oilers was in the physicality department, especially Jake Virtanen, who dished a big check on McDavid that earned a loud cheer from Canuck fans. He also exchanged words with Nurse a few times.
“I wanted to establish early a good physical presence. Felt that pretty early with hitting Davo (McDavid) there,” said Virtanen. “Just being physical throughout the whole game. Trying to lay bodies on good guys.”
Despite his goal and assist, the hit McDavid received from Virtanen was what made the rounds on highlight reels on social media after the game.
“I got hit it is part of the game, it is fine. It’s hockey that stuff is going to happen,” said McDavid. “We are playing a competitive environment … it’s no problem, not a big deal at all.”
Teammate Darnell Nurse, who unsuccessfully prodded Virtanen to drop the gloves a few shifts after the McDavid hit also commented on the feisty affair.
“Everyone plays with a lot of passion. Obviously we have a few guys whose roles are to go out there and hit the body and play hard so you have to flash it every once and awhile,” said Nurse. “For any team you don’t want to see guys take shots so you try and go out there and calm the situation down, that is what my goal was. At the same time I go out there and play hard.”
Clay Witt made 27 saves in the loss. Virtanen led all players with seven shots, while teammate Hunter Shinkaruk had five. Ben Betker led the Oilers with four shots. Former Vee and Denver Pioneer graduate Joey Laleggia collected two assists for the Oilers to go with a plus-three and two shots on goal. Laleggia made a great play rushing down the wing entering the offensive zone and found Anton Slepyshev, who one-timed a shot past Witt.
The Oilers are back in action Saturday against the Calgary Flames at 7:30 p.m.
In the opening game of the Classic, the Flames dropped the Winnipeg Jets, 3-1. Tyson Baillie set up Bryce Van Brabant for the Flames’ first goal, then Ryan Lomberg made it 2-0 on a setup by Andrew Mangiapane. With 15 seconds remaining in the opening period, Claude Lemieux’ son Brendan scored for the Jets. In the third period, Morgan Klimchuk scored an empty-netter to secure the win. Jon Gillies made 25 saves for the win. Eric Comrie and Connor Hellebuyck split crease duties for the Jets.
-With files and photos from Kristi Patton/Western News