It was pretty much a home tournament for Oliver product Corban Knight at the Canucks Young Stars Classic.
Knight, who was born in Oliver and moved to High River, Alta., when he was three, played in three games for the Calgary Flames and finished with a goal and an even plus/minus.
“Coming in talking to some of the guys, they said it’s an intense tournament,” said Knight, originally drafted by the Florida Panthers and traded to the Flames during the summer. “The level is extremely high. It was a hard-fought tournament.”
After four years with the University of North Dakota, Knight said the tournament had very talented players.
“You really realize you have to play at an extremely high level to be good,” said Knight, who idolizes retired Canuck Trevor Linden as he appreciated how Linden conducted himself on and off the ice. “Always have to work to get better. A lot of fun, but high-level hockey.”
Knight was happy with his play, but knows there is room for improvement.
Knight’s coach Troy Ward, of the Abbotsford Heat in the American Hockey League, said his player was fine and possesses a scoring ability that can’t be taught. However, there are areas Ward would like to see Knight better at.
“To be honest, he has to play with some passion and some vigor,” said Ward, following their 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks Sunday night. “This isn’t college. You’re not going to have the puck all the time. You’re going to have to go get it back. We had a dump in the second period where it stands out to me the most. (Michael) Ferland dumped it in and went and got it, hit the guy behind the net.
“If you’re going to play in the National Hockey League on the third or fourth line … you are going to have to play that way. Especially for Bob (Hartley, the Flames coach) and the organization. That’s an expectation,” said Ward. “When Corban has the puck, I’m fine with that. But when he doesn’t have it, he’s going to have to play like Ferland on that dump in and go get pucks and get his nose dirty.”
Playing in the Canucks Young Stars Classic had special meaning for Knight as he was able to return to the area he first lived.
“We still have friends and family around this area,” said the 6-2, 185 pound centre, adding that it was cool to return to the Okanagan and have family and friends watch him. “Both my parents were raised in this area. We come back quite a bit. It’s still kind of familiar.”
When asked what he remembered about Oliver from his childhood, Knight said with a laugh, “I just remember how good the fruit was.”
Tournament notes: The BCHL had five grads compete in the tournament. Wesley Myron, a former Victoria Grizzly, played two games with the Vancouver Canucks and finished with a goal and two points and was plus-2, while firing six shots on net. Zach Davies, a former Prince George Spruce King, played one game and had one shot on goal, while former Vernon Viper Kyle Bigos played three games and accumulated 20 penalty minutes, while firing three shots on net and finishing plus-2. Jujhar Khaira, a former Spruce King, played three games and scored once on six shots. He finished plus-1. Ben Betker, also with the Oilers and a former West Kelowna Warrior, played in two games and finished plus-1 with one shot on net.