Down a goal with less than a minute remaining, it appeared the Vancouver Canucks prospects were set to drop their second consecutive match at the Young Stars Tournament, but Nathan Longpre wouldn’t let it happen.
With just fifteen seconds remaining, Longpre -- in Penticton on a tryout after a productive season at Robert Morris University -- equalized the game on a goal-mouth scramble, and then set up the winner just 16 seconds into the four-on-four overtime as the Canucks down Calgary, 4-3.
Longpre finished the night with two goals and an assist.
The rally spoiled a tidy evening for Flames goalie Joni Ortio, who looked much sharper than he did in Sunday’s tournament-opening loss. But, it provided a win to Vancouver goalie Karel St. Laurent, who was superb at the opposite end of the rink making 44 saves on 47 shots. The two goalies stole the show in a game that featured 87 shots.
St. Laurent couldn’t stick as a 20-year-old in the QMJHL last season and headed west to Greater Vancouver, to play for the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles in hopes of keeping his pro dreams alive. He’s now allowed just four goals in a game and a half, and has been one of the bright Canucks stories of the event.
Patrick Holland was strong for the Flames prospects as he had a pair of bang-in goals at the net, both assisted by Max Reinhart. Both Holland and Reinhart are 1992-born players and are safe bets to be returned to their WHL teams this season.
Sven Baertschi has only played two games in a Flames uniform, but he seems to create scoring opportunities at will. He was on the ice for the two Holland goals and showed a gritty element to his game in post-whistle scrums. The future is bright for the18-year-old Swiss talent who played in Portland last season.
Monday afternoon’s game was the first close game of the tournament and left fans grinning from ear-to-ear. Certainly more compelling than Sunday’s 6-1 and 7-2 games.
The Canucks play again Wednesday at 4 p.m. PST against the Sharks, while the Flames will play their final game of the tournament Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. PST against their provincial rivals from Edmonton.