The eyes of the world may have been on the World Cup final between Netherlands and Spain Sunday, but Canucks fans didn’t have hockey completely out of their minds during the finale of Prospects Development Camp.
After five days of everything from intense on-ice sessions, gym workouts, nutrition classes, the Grouse Grind, a Vancouver Canadians baseball game and more, the prospects enjoyed a friendly yet competitive 3-on-3 tournament before shipping out of town.
Upon arriving to Rogers Arena, the prospects were surprised to find custom Canucks jerseys in their stalls, which they warmed up in to get a feel for what playing for the real Canucks would be like. It was a smile-fest with every prospect grinning from ear to ear sporting the jersey they’ve set their sight on sporting for real one day.
After a group picture it was back into practice uniforms and the 3-on-3 tournament began.
”Ready to hit the ice for a 3-on-3 tourney. Not guaranteeing anything, but we're gonna win,” Kevin Connauton tweeted via @VanCanucks heading into the tournament.
It didn’t take long for his tone to change.
The threesome of Connauton, Volpatti and Miller lost their first game 3-2 in a sudden death shootout.
All Connauton jokingly tweeted after the loss was “no comment.” He wasn’t impressed and his team wasn’t impressive finishing 0-4 and the only team without at least one win.
When the dust settled from the 40 game round robin tournament, teams 4 and 10 competed in the final; team 4, composed of Rodin, Polasked, Tanev and Cannata, won group A going 4-0, while team 10, made up of Kinkaid, Clark, Ellington and Fedun, tied teams 8 and 9 with a 3-1 record, but received a pass to the final based on goals for/against at 10/4.
The championship final was a scoreless affair through two minutes before team 10, wearing green, beat Cannata four times before the final whistle blew two minute later, giving them a 4-1 win.
Offensively, Rodin didn’t shine during the final, but he was excellent all day scoring at least six goals for his team.
Although there wasn’t much defence to be had in the loose 3-on-3 tournament, Connauton and Sauve stood out, partially because of their massive frames, but also for their efforts at both ends of the rink.
That was of little consolation to Sauve afterwards.
”It was a great tournament and we had fun and that was the goal of it, but it sucked to come up short,” laughed Sauve, who added that his team faced a tougher draw than the rest.
“It just felt like one really long shift and I don’t think our schedule was fair, we had back-to-back games, I mean come on!”
While the tournament didn’t finish the way Sauve had hoped, development camp did.
”It was a great camp. There were so many activities that we learned from and the nutrition and the Iron Chef and things were great.”
This was Sauve’s third time attending prospects camp with the Canucks and what stood out to the defenceman was the time dedicated to forming team camaraderie.
”The team building was really good, like the rowing, it brought us together. Then the baseball game was good to relax together. In the last two years we didn’t do any activities like that and it really made a big difference, the group was a lot tighter this year, everyone got to know everyone and that team building and joking around is important.”
It was visible all week that this group was extremely tight knit and considering this was the first time many of the prospects had even met, that was great to see from a coaching standpoint, according to Roland Melanson, Vancouver’s new goalie coach.
”Anytime that you bring a large group like that together, the more they can learn about each other in the summer months, the better,” said Melanson. “The majority of these guys will play together at one point or another, it could be Manitoba or here in Vancouver with the Canucks, so it’s important they have that team building and get to know each other early.
“We gave them a little bit of everything like nutrition and being in the gym, but more than anything I was really impressed with the on ice performance. These guys were very impressive.”
The prospects will now go their separate ways for the remainder of the summer, but they’ll be back before you know it taking part in the Young Stars prospects tournament in Penticton beginning September 12. Tournament ticket packages are available online at www.valleyfirstTIX.com, by phone at 1-877-763-2849 or in person at the South Okanagan Events Centre box office. Single game tournament tickets will be made available in mid-August.