Former Vernon Viper Michael Zalewski helped the Vancouver Canucks pick up their first win, 4-1 against the Winnipeg Jets, in the Canucks Young Stars Classic.
Zalewski, who was part of the Utica Comets Calder Cup run last season, beat Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck 34 seconds into the third period to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead. Reid Gardiner and Hunter Shinkaruk added to the Canucks lead, while Jared McCann, scored first for the Canucks in the second period in front of a crowd of 4,888 in the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“From last game I think it was a huge difference,” said Jake Virtanen of the Canucks. “Today we knew what the pace was going to be like. Winnipeg has a good couple of guys out there. We came and set the pace really well today.”
Virtanen added one of the differences from their play against the Oilers on Friday was that they were around the net more and worked to get chances.
The Canucks outshot the Jets 12-5 in the opening period and 29-13 in the final two for a total of 41-18.
Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle turned aside 17 shots. He faced four shots in the third period, one of his saves he did the splits to keep the puck out.
“I saw him coming down the wing. I knew he was back door … just react to it as best as I can to get in front,” said Whistle, who led the Rockets to a Memorial Cup final appearance last spring. “It gets you a little amped up. I tried to stay as calm as I can even when I make a big save.”
Whistle said he felt more calm in goal compared to last year when he played in the tournament with the Canucks.
“I know sometimes it can be a little unorthodox making saves. I knew what to expect a little bit more coming into this,” he said. “I knew it’s a lot bigger, faster, stronger.”
Zalewski was named the first star, while McCann earned the second start and Jets goalie Hellebuyck, the third.