For the second consecutive game the Canucks dropped the gloves three times in the first period and four times overall; Monday night it sparked the team, but Wednesday afternoon was a different story.
The Canucks started slow and shot themselves in the foot with a march to the penalty box that awarded the Anaheim Ducks seven power plays. The Ducks took advantage of the man advantage to score two goals en route to a 4-2 win for their first victory of the Young Stars Tournament.
Vancouver falls to 1-2-0 despite four players pausing the game to spark the Canucks and display some fisticuffs.
Tayler Jordan, all 6-foot-6, 200-pounds of him, scrapped with Scott Ramsay, an old WHL rival, late in the opening frame. There was bad blood there to start, according to Jordan, and when Ramsay prompted him to tussle, well, you do what you gotta do.
“I’ve been fighting for a while at the junior level and stuff and when we come in here it’s important to just do what we did to get here and that’s what I’ve been doing the whole time,” said Jordan.
“There are guys here just trying to find a spot on the team wherever they fit in and you just do what you’ve got to do. For some guys that’s just the role you have to take on if you want to play at the next level.”
Jordan, an un-signed free agent on a pro try-out, wasn’t the only player without a contract with the Canucks doing whatever they had to in attempt to draw eyeballs.
Pierre-Olivier Morin was given a chance to shine against the Ducks as he was placed on the top line alongside Bill Sweatt and Alex Friesen. Morin made the most of it by tying the game up at 2-2 with less than five minutes remaining when he gobbled up a juicy rebound off a Canucks point shot and put it past Anaheim keeper Timo Pielmeier.
Morin also assisted on Bill Sweatt’s power play goal to open the Vancouver scoring early in the second to give him two points on the night, and three in as many games.
“I came here with no expectations, just trying to give everything I have and everything is going well,” said Morin, adding that he’s playing like he’s got nothing to lose.
“This summer I was hoping to get drafted and when Vancouver called me after the draft I was really happy. I had good discussion with them and I think so far the camp has gone really well. I think it helped me to come in the first week in July and skate with the guys and see what pro camp is. So I came here in September ready for the tournament.”
Morin has been one of Vancouver’s best forwards with one game remaining for players to strut their stuff - a Thursday nooner against the Calgary Flames.
“For sure I would hope to get a contract at the end of the camp, but now I’m just trying to go day-by-day and give everything I have and that’s what kind of player I am. I can score goals, I like to work hard and finish hits and tomorrow is another chance for me to prove myself.”
The third player on a pro tryout to turn a few heads on this night was Michael Houser, who made 29 saves in his first start between the pipes this tournament. With fellow keeper Eddie Lack stealing the show in net, the pressure was on Houser to perform and he didn’t disappoint.
“It was tough there after battling back [to tie the game], but all-in-all I think it was good effort by the guys tonight,” said Houser. “We got into some penalty trouble in the second, which cost us, but I think we battled pretty well and we can take a lot of positives out of it for tomorrow.”
Houser was perfect in the first period stopping nine shots, but his force field was burst in the second thanks to 15 shots from the Ducks. Two got past Houser, both on the power play, including one from Cam Fowler, whose powerful shot he faced all last season in the OHL.
"He got it off and I really didn’t see the release and I kind of just tried to react to it a little bit late and it got past me there,” said Houser.
That’s not the goal Houser wanted back the most. That distinction goes to Maxime Macenauer’s score with less than three minutes to play, aka the eventual game-winner.
“I thought I battled pretty well, two goals in the second is not too bad, but the third one I’d like to have back. I lost track of it behind the net there, which isn’t something you want to do.”
NOTES: The Canucks have only eight goals through three games, the second lowest total, despite having 74 shots, the third most; Eddie Lack and Michael Houser have combined for 81 saves, a tournament-high; Taylor Ellington has 19 penalty minutes through three games; Vancouver was 1-for-2 on the power play, Anaheim went 2-for-7.