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, a 4-3 overtime loss, Fox banged home a feed by Hunter Shinkaruk to get the Canucks on the scoreboard.
“He’s a shooter, you can see that.,” said Utica Comets 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 (the Ontario Hockey League’s scoring leader) 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 defence 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 do too much and be too cute.
In the second Canucks game, Fox was ejected for getting in a fight. Green said Fox played alright in the final game against Calgary in a 6-1 loss on Monday. He finished the tournament with a goal on five shots and 17 penalty minutes.
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.”
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, to keep his feet moving and 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.
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.”
On Tuesday, the Canucks announced which players won’t be moving on to their training camp in Whistler. Defenceman Miles Liberati as been assigned to his junior club in North Bay, while wingers Cordell James, Jonathan Martin, Matthieu Bellerive and Klarc Wilson were released along with defenceman Josh Thrower and goalie Jackson Whistle of the Kelowna Rockets.
Players who impressed Green were goalie Ausen Lotz and foward Curtis Valk, who finished with three goals in three games.
Green said the tournament was good for all the players and that the young guys that came in have momentum heading into Whistler.
Shinkaruk was happy with how he played overall. He used the first game to get back into things after recovering from hip surgery.
“The second game I thought I had quite a strong game,” he said. “Showed what I can do.”
Horvat was also happy with his play overall.
“I obviously didn’t contribute much on the offensive side, but I thought my 200-foot game and my defence was really good,” said Horvat, who feels having one training camp under his belt will help him in Whistler.