The annual blue-versus-white scrimmage was an entertaining game - despite the low score.
The sell-out crowd at Vernon Multiplex was treated to shift after shift of shoulder-jarring hits and board-rattling rub-outs, but the game wasn't destined for scorelessness. With only seven and a half minutes remaining, centreman Chris Ray exploded into the slot and let loose a one-timer off the tape-to-tape feed of winger Jannik Hansen, beating net-minder Alexandre Vincent stick-side and putting the white team on the score-clock.
It was the first and last goal of the game.
The scrimmage consisted of two thirty minute periods. Prospect tender Drew Macintyre minded the pipes for the blue team in the first period, and Roberto Luongo got the starting nod for the white team. Both goalies played tight, kicking out screened point-shots and deflecting shelfers with lifted shoulders. Perhaps the best save in the period was made by Macintyre, who denied Tyler Bouck a glorious finish to his self-made breakaway.
The rough stuff started almost immediately after the initial drop of the puck. Future franchise player Luc Bourdon exuded the most dominant physical presence, using all 210-pounds of his bulk to bang players left and right. On more than one occasion, the New Brunswick native left his post at the blue line in order to pinch in to the hash-marks and deliver massive checks.
The physicality reached its peak in the second period when prospect Nathan Smith dropped the gloves with veteran Matt Cooke. The tilt was brief, as Cooke caught an edge and toppled before getting a chance to unload any punches. Smith tossed a couple of slapdash blows, but none of them landed. His teammates lauded his efforts by whacking their sticks against the boards as the former Manitoba Moose glided to the penalty box.
With fifty-eight seconds remaining, the blue team, hoping to tally one of their own to even up the score, pulled Vincent, and the man-advantage produced some smooth offensive cycling and a few screened shots, but no rubber got through to the net. The final buzzer sounded, and the white team gathered around goalie Wade Flaherty to celebrate their win.
Chalk one up for white.
Cooke, one of three Canuck regulars skating for Team White, decked Prestin Ryan, Yannik Tremblay, and Daniel Rahimi before Smith jumped him late. The brief tussle finished with both players wrestling to the ice before being separated by linesmen and escorted to the bench.
A collective gasp went out when Kevin Bieksa rubbed Ryan Kesler out along the boards late in the first half. Bieksa clipped the rangy forward under the chin.
Kesler laboured to his feet and skated directly to the bench. He shook it off and finished the game.
The biggest hit was delivered by 6'3", 221-pound third-round pick Daniel Rahimi.
The Swede was looking back when he cut across the blue line and ran over Bouck. The accidental collision spilled both players, who collected themselves and finished the shift.
MacIntyre earned save-of-the-game honours. On top of his stop on Bouck, MacIntyre stretched a pad across his crease to steal a puck off Ray's stick after Josh Green found him lurking at the far post. The 23-year-old backstop who was acquired from the Red Wings' organization last week, battled Roberto Luongo to a scoreless draw through the first 30-minute half.
Canuck captain Markus Naslund didn't skate in the scrimmage but answered a few questions after the game about camp, Trevor Linden, and roomie Michael Grabner.