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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 10:48 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Players of note from Penticton

After eight games in five days, the Young Stars Tournament has come to a conclusion in Penticton, B.C. The Canucks, Flames, Jets, Oilers and Sharks prospects have returned home to resume their training camps, but the scouts and coaches will continue to buzz over the performances of the prospects for quite some time. Here are some of the names that were catalysts of conversation in Penticton. Not a list of the best players, but rather a list of those who impressed as compared to their expectations.

FLAMES

Maxwell Reinhart, C -- Offensively involved and responsible at both ends of the rink, Reinhart showed he's got a bright future as a pro.

Patrick Holland, RW -- A 2010 seventh-round pick, Holland has been productive and responsible.

Sven Baertschi, LW -- Electric is the word Flames coaches have been using to describe the slick Swiss forward who starred last season with Portland of the Western Hockey League. He was especially dangerous with time and space, and on the power play.

OILERS

Tyler Bunz, G -- The netminder is determined to get off to a great start this season and earn a spot on Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship. He had an impressive shutout of the Jets during the tournament.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C -- The first pick of the 2011 Entry Draft has produced points, but also has gotten involved physically -- an encouraging sign for Oilers fans hoping he can make the jump to the NHL this season.

Anton Lander, C -- The Swedish-born center led the Oilers with 3 goals in the tournament. He's yet another skilled forward in the Oilers' cupboard.

SHARKS

Thomas Heemskerk, G -- Heemskerk stood on his head in the Sharks' first game of the tournament, and didn't cool much after that. It was an impressive week of puck stopping.

Brodie Reid, RW -- Reid has scored everywhere he has played and didn't let San Jose down in Penticton, where he had played a season of hockey with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. It was a sweet homecoming for the 22-year-old forward.

Benjamin Thomson, LW -- Hits? Check. Fight? Check. Goal? Check. He's been a physical player for the Sharks this week.

CANUCKS

Karel St. Laurent, G -- A 20-year-old QMJHL cast-off this time last season, St. Laurent was solid in net in all three appearances he made.

Nathan Longpre, C -- He posted sparkling numbers with Robert Morris University last season (42 points in 33 games), and nearly single-handedly sparked a comeback with 2 goals and an assist against Calgary.

Nicklas Jensen, LW -- Another 2011 first-round pick who didn't disappoint; Jensen showed skill, strength and offensive prowess.

JETS

Jason Gregoire, LW -- North Dakota alum and Winnipeg native has designs of making the big team this fall. He's not huge (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) but seemed comfortable in traffic. Created lots of opportunities in each game played. Nice hands.

Mark Scheifele, C --
The seventh pick of the 2011 Entry Draft looks legit. He's big (6-2, 184), skilled and has some eye-popping moves around the net. He scored with regularity during the tournament.

Edward Pasquale, G -- In 90 minutes of ice time, he didn't allow a goal. Not too shabby for a player who turns 21 in November and already has a season of professional hockey experience.
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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 6:57 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Jets shut out Canucks

Edward Pasquale and Christopher Carrozzi split time in the Winnipeg Jets' net today, combining to backstop a 2-0 shutout of Vancouver Canucks prospects, the Jets' second shutout in three games here in Penticton, B.C., for the Young Stars Tournament.

The Jets' tandem was especially good this week, as Winnipeg allowed only two goals in three games, by far the fewest goals allowed among the five teams at the event. Pasquale finished the tournament without allowing a goal in 90 minutes of ice time.

Mark Scheifele and Jason Gregoire continued to supply the Jets with offense as they did in their tournament-opening win against San Jose. Scheifele, the Jets' 2011 first-round selection, scored in the third period on a shot that beat Karel St. Laurent under the arm, and he showed a lethal touch around the net. Gregoire, born and raised in Winnipeg, set up the game's other goal, by Shayne Wiebe, to add to his assist total.

Wiebe, Gregoire and Scheifele operated as the Jets' top line today, and were the only line for either side that could muster much in the way of offensive chances. The tournament finale also happened to be the only fight-free match of the eight-game event.

The Jets and Oilers each finished the tournament with 2-1 records, as did the host Canucks, while the Flames and Sharks each went 1-2.

Canucks forward Bill Sweatt sustained a minor injury in Monday's game against Calgary and didn't play today. He will be ready, however, when the Canucks open training camp.
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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 4:23 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Positive review for Young Stars event

Canucks VP of hockey operations and assistant GM Laurence Gilman had nothing but positive things to say about the 2011 Young Stars tournament.

"This is a first-class facility in an unbelievable hockey setting." Gilman said Thursday. "From a production standpoint you couldn't have asked for a better event. From our perspective any time you can get your top prospects into game situations against their peers you have far better ability to evaluate their skill set in a real time setting. It's also an excellent vehicle for us to analyze our prospect pool against some teams that we compete with on a regular basis."

When asked about the prospects of a third annual Young Stars in 2012, Gilman noted that there are quite a few parties involved in making the event happen, but that all feedback has been positive.

"We partner in this event with the other teams that are here; we've talked to a couple of them about the event, and they seem very willing to come back and do this again.

"Once our camps finish, and our season gets started we'll convene the teams and talk about doing it again, and sit down with the people from Penticton and see if they're interested in doing it again. From our perspective it's a great event and I don't see any reason why we wouldn't want to continue come back here."

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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 5:42 AM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Canucks and Jets to close out Young Stars Tourney

Three teams are gone, two are set hop chartered flights from the Okanagan tomorrow after the final game of the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, which begins Thursday at 11:00 a.m. PST.

The final game should be an intriguing one as the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks do battle at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Canucks have reeled off two straight wins since getting blown out in the opener, while the Jets have had a 'feast or famine' week – shutting out the Sharks before being blanked by the Oilers.

The game is the eighth of the event and fourth featuring the Canucks, while the Jets, who arrived a day later than the other four teams have played just twice in Penticton. The Oilers, Flames and Sharks all concluded play on Wednesday.
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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 1:25 AM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Baertsci stars in Flames victory

Let the buzz about Sven Baertschi begin. The No. 13 pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft capped an impressive Young Stars tournament with a dynamic two-goal game in the Flames 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Swiss sensation scored the game's first goal on the power play, then tipped in a point shot in the third period, while stationed at the side of the Oilers net, to put the Flames up by two.

The Flames also got goals from Dustin Sylvester, who hails from nearby Kelowna, and Lance Bouma, who played 16 games with the Flames last season and aims to crack the Calgary roster this season.

The Oilers got goals from 20-year-old center Tyler Pitlick, Finish forward Anton Lander – who led the team in scoring during the tournament – and Martin Maracin, a 6-foot-5 Slovakian defender.

Joni Ortio made his third straight start, and turned in his second strong effort, stopping 20 of 23 shots. Adam Brown took the loss – allowing 4 goals on 29 shots.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was not in the line-up for the first-time at the Young Stars, but did finish the event with an assist in each contest in which he played.

The Flames win was their first of the tournament; conversely the loss was the Oilers first.

The 2011 Young Stars tournament will wrap-up Thursday at 11:00 a.m. PST when the host Canucks face off agianst the Winnipeg Jets.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 10:25 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Canucks overcome three deficits, edge Sharks

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Despite trailing three times, the Vancouver Canucks settled down in third period and beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 in Wednesday’s first game at the Young Stars tournament.

Ben Thomson of the Sharks opened the scoring early in the first, but Steven Janes leveled the game for the Canucks midway through the frame.

Sharks center Nathan Moon busy in the scored period as he netted a pair of goals and took a penalty. The first Moon tally was a one-time finish to a lovely passing play, while the second goal was a sharp-angle shot that Vancouver goaltender David Honzik misplayed.

Down 3-2, the Canucks responded to Moon’s second goal by netting three unanswered goals, and were helped by much more solid puck stopping from goaltender David Honzik in the second half of the match.

Northeastern alumni Brodie Reid, who was signed this spring after his freshman season, continued his strong showing at the tournament by creating offensive chances with regularity. Ditto for Kellen Tochkin, who recorded two assists and has played with energy in Penticton all week.

Alex Freisen and Michael Sgarbossa had a spirited fight as time expired over an exchange at the Vancouver goal mouth.

The Sharks finished the tournament with a record of (1-2-0). The Canucks (2-1-0) play tomorrow morning in the tournament finale.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 9:35 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

City of Penticton, teams talking about 2012

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Year two of the Young Stars tournament in Penticton has been drawing positive reviews from the city’s organizing committee, fans, media members, and the five NHL clubs in attendance.

The five-day event in the Okanagan has gone off without a hitch, and while attendance has dropped from last year’s inaugural edition, numbers aren’t at a level that will scare off the member parties from working toward a third annual event at the state of the art South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

The popular vacation destination located between Okanagan and Skaha Lake seem to be the perfect fit for the event. Penticton’s September weather, the accessibility and functionality of the venue, and relative proximity to the four Western Canadian entrants have made the event and the city a great fit.

City Councillor Andrew Jakubeit spoke to the revenue the event brings to the local economy, and the notoriety the city receives as positive of the event. Jakubeit was quick to point out the large swarms of fans from Edmonton and Vancouver (among the smaller herds Jets and Flames faithful) that have traveled to the city to take in the hockey and the regional tourist attractions.

Jakubeit is hopeful the host Canucks and the city can have a framework for a potential 2012 event in place prior to the chaos of the NHL home-stretch and postseason, to allow for a head start on marketing and ticket sales.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 12:01 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Flames, Oilers set to meet in Battle of Alberta

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Bragging rights in Alberta are on the line tonight (7:30 p.m. PST) at the Young Stars tournament as the Flames and Oilers meet.

Ah, the battle of Alberta (Prospect Edition 1.0) – one of hockey’s great rivalries. There will be elbows thrown, there will be taunting, there will be scraps, and there will also be a game for these two unruly fan bases to watch as well. While that may be a slight exaggeration of the scale of the hatred between the two hockey tribes, it isn’t that far off.

True, it seems the Oilers and Flames rivalry was a touch hotter in the late-80s when the teams seemed to perennially meet in the Smyth Division playoffs. But the Oilers have finished dead last in the NHL the last two seasons, and the Flames have missed the playoffs while spending close to the cap over the same stretch, making it tough for fans to get the bile churning when, frankly, the stakes just haven’t been as high.

This will be the final game of the tournament for both sides. The Oilers have looked sharp in Penticton – two wins in two games – while the Flames are winless after watching a lead disappear with just 15 seconds remaining, then losing moments into overtime on Monday when they faced the Canucks.

In the afternoon affair, the Sharks and Canucks battle at 4 p.m. PST.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 11:58 AM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Battle of Alberta Headlines Day 4

Bragging rights in Alberta are on the line today at the Young Stars Tournament as the Flames and Oilers meet in Penticton, B.C.

The Battle of Alberta (Prospect Edition) remains one of hockey's great rivalries. The rivalry between the Oilers and Flames was a touch hotter in the late 1980s, when the teams seemed to meet annually in the Smythe Division playoffs. The Oilers have finished 30th in the League the last two seasons, while the Flames also have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons. It can be tough for the fans to get totally into it when, frankly, the stakes just haven't been as high.

This will be the final game of the tournament for both sides. The Oilers have looked sharp here with wins in both their games, while the Flames are winless after watching the Canucks tie Monday's game with 15 seconds left in regulation than score in overtime.

In the second game today, the Sharks will face the Canucks.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 1:36 AM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Oilers blank Jets, 2-0

Ryan Nugent Hopkins was the story early, but 19-year-old goalie Tyler Bunz ended up stealing the show as he and the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Winnipeg Jets 2-0 on Tuesday night.

The Oilers are now 2-0-0 in the Penticton Young Stars tournament.

Bunz was sturdy all night but seemed to get better and better as the game  progressed. In the second period he made a tricky save after a puck hit the iron, then in the final two minutes he made two gigantic saves to preserve the win. He reacted to the final buzzer and his shut-out performance with a double fist pump before being mobbed by teammates.

Both goals in the game came from the Oilers in the first period. First, Chase Schaber scored less than three minutes in, then Nugent-Hopkins and Kristians Pelss set up defender Ryan Lowery, who got a puck through traffic and behind Jets goalie Chris Carrozzi.

Nugent-Hopkins’s assist on the  power-play goal gave him his second point in as many games, but it was his physicality that had fans, scouts and media buzzing, as he used his body effectively early on in the game, doling out multiple hits.

For the Jets, Eric O’Dell had a stellar chance to beat Bunz in the second frame, but hit the post, and Bunz kept it out of the cage off the firm carom. Then in the final frame, Carl Klingberg took a great pass, cut across Bunz’s crease, but missed a tap-in on a yawning cage.
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Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level