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Joey Kenward: Steven steps up

by Joey Kenward / Vancouver Canucks

As the Vancouver Canucks look to keep their National Hockey League playoffs going towards the month of June, one of their prospects is in great shape to win a league title and maybe even a national championship.

Steven Anthony is getting set to open up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League finals this week with the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Dogs have been one of the best teams in the Canadian Hockey League this year. Many who follow junior hockey feel they have a fantastic opportunity to not only win the QMJHL title but also the Memorial Cup tournament later this month.

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Joey Kenward is into his third season as the Canucks broadcaster/reporter for the Team 1040.

Follow Joey on Twitter: @kenwardskorner

“Steven has been in a great situation this season,” says Canucks Director of Player Development Dave Gagner. “It’s a great atmosphere for him to be in. We want all of our young players to be on winning teams so they can learn what sacrifices are needed to win on a nightly basis.”

Anthony was selected by the Canucks in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, going in the seventh round (187th overall). Having just turned 20 last March, the left winger from Halifax, Nova Scotia is coming off his most productive year in what’s been a solid major junior career.

The 6’2”, 195 lbs. left winger was originally the 10th overall pick by Saint John in the 2007 QMJHL selection draft. Four years later, Anthony capped off his best season with the Sea Dogs. In 61 games during the regular season, Anthony put up 23 goals and 37 assists, to go along with a +35 rating. He was fifth in team scoring on a club that had 15 players with 30-or-more points.

“Some of Saint John’s top players are very young, so Steven has been given a bigger leadership role during his 19 year-old season,” says Gagner. "They've been one of the best junior hockey teams in Canada. Steven's done well with the club. Hopefully they can finish their season off properly."

The Sea Dogs went 58-7-1-2 in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and were consistently ranked #1 in the Canadian Hockey League’s Top 10 Rankings. A big reason for their #1 ranking was their performances on home ice, as they became the first team in QMJHL history to go an entire season without losing a home game in regulation (32-0-1-1).

“He’s playing for two guys who used to be coaches in the NHL in both Gerard Gallant and (former Canucks Assistant Coach) Mike Kelly,” adds Gagner. “The expectations for players on that team are there on a daily basis and they have a really professional atmosphere in that organization.”

Later this week, Anthony and his Saint John teammates will enter the final round of the QMJHL playoffs against either the Quebec Remparts or the Gatineau Olympiques. In 13 games this post season, Anthony has played in all different situations. He has put up five goals and seven assists.

“Sometimes he’s been on the first line and sometimes he’s been on the third line,” says Gagner. “Steven has had to learn to share ice time and different responsibilities on a winning program. That can no doubt be great for his development.”

The Canucks have yet to sign Anthony to an entry level contract. If they decide not to by the beginning of June, Anthony is eligible to re-enter the draft.

Based on what he’s accomplished on the ice the past few years with a winning team, it’s not likely the Canucks will allow another team get their hands on him.

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