PRE-SEASON KICKS OFF TONIGHT IN TERRACE
With the start of the regular season less than three weeks away, the Vancouver Canucks gear up and head north to Terrace, BC to face-off against the New York Islanders in the first pre-season game of the year. Last March during a nationwide search, small town Terrace beat out 7,100 other communities across Canada to become Kraft’s Hockeyville 2009.
The town of 15,000 received an overwhelmingly positive response capturing almost 25% of the 9 million votes. The Terrace Sportsplex won a $100,000 makeover, a visit from hockey’s holy grail, Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the right to host the Canucks first exhibition game. Over 8,000 people entered for a chance to witness tonight's historic game in the newly upgraded arena that only seats 1,100.
Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa did make the trip to Terrace but are not expected to dress in tonight's tilt with the Isles. Kyle Wellwood, Rick Rypien, Brad Lukowich, Shane O'Brien, Dave Scatchard, and Ronald Petrovicky will serve as the veteran presence for the Canucks.
Rookies Eric Walsky, Sergei Shirokov, and Evan Oberg will make their NHL preseason debut with the Canucks in Terrace. No word on whether Andrew Raycroft or Cory Schneider will start in net tonight but both goalies made the trip.
Last season the Canucks went 6-0-1 during the pre-season. Tonight’s game is broadcasted at 7:30 (PST) on Canucks.com and Sportsnet Pacific.
With group A already in Terrace, groups B and C skated today. Pavol Demitra, who did not skate yesterday, took part in practice. Cody Hodgson, who is nursing an injured back, practiced with group C.
With a number of promising prospects waiting to slot into the lineup this year, camp is proving to be one of the toughest it has seen in years.
“As camp progresses and the intensity of the exhibition games pick up you’re going to see a lot of interesting battles. [The competition] is always better for players. It helps them get ready for the season. [Some players] have no choice they [have] to give us everything they can and show us everything they can [do] right off the bat.”
With almost a dozen NHL caliber defensemen on the Canucks training camp roster, no one's guaranteed a spot with some of the newcomers here to help serve specific roles.
“Having new faces out there is really going to push everyone [at training camp],” said veteran defenseman Sami Salo. “With the additions of [Christian] Ehrhoff and [Mathieu] Schneider we’ll have some more offensive skill and I think that’s going to help this team.”
BURROWS, RAYMOND, and HORDICHUK HIT UP THE CCMA’s
Last night Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond and Darcy Hordichuk hit up the 2009 Canadian Country Music Awards for a little dancing as they joined Aaron Pritchett and the B.C Lions dance team onstage.
“We basically made fools of ourselves. It was fun” said Hordichuck with a laugh. “I’ve got the cowboy hat and the boots [but] I’ve never pulled it out in Vancouver - next road trip [when we] get back to Nashville.”
“[We were] a little awkward out there," said Mason Raymond with a chuckle. "We’re so used to hiding behind our helmets. It was fun to go out and give a little wave. I’m a country music fan, so it was a lot of fun."