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Prospects musings

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks
The season has started off extremely well for the Canucks and that has trickled down to prospects at nearly every level. Here's a rundown of recent activity.

CAMP BOUND (CANADIAN EDITION): For the second consecutive year, the Canucks could see one of their prospects suit up for Canada at the World Juniors as Jake Virtanen, the first round, sixth overall, pick this past June, was one of 17 forwards named to the Selection Camp roster. The Calgary Hitmen sniper is only one of two true right wingers named to the roster. The camp gets going on December 11 in Toronto, Ontario, while Canada will open up the tournament on Boxing Day in Montreal against Slovakia. In 18 games so far this season, Virtanen has 19 points (7-12-19).

CAMP BOUND (AMERICAN EDITION): Cole Cassels and Thatcher Demko were named to the U.S. Selection Camp roster. Demko, the Canucks second round, 36th overall, pick in June served as the team’s third goalie last season in Malmo, Sweden. He wanted to soak in everything he could from that experience to prepare himself for this year, going as far as keeping a journal of everything he learned. The Boston College netminder has represented his country on two other occasions, winning a silver medal at the 2013 Under-18s and 2012 Under-17s. In 13 games this season, Demko is 7-6-0 with a 2.24 GAA and .919 SV%.

IN HOT WATER: Speaking of Cassels, he will be out of action for a bit as he was handed a 10-game suspension for a hit to the head of Owen Sound Attack defenceman, Damir Sharipzyanov. The IIHF honours league suspensions, meaning Cassels wouldn’t be eligible to play for the U.S. until December 29th against Slovakia, as he would miss the first two games of the tournament. It will be interesting to see if this will keep him off the team. In 22 games this season, Cassels has netted 39 points (12-27-39) and 53 penalty-minutes.

CAMP BOUND? (SWEDISH EDITION): We won’t know until Monday the fate of prospects Anton Cederholm or Gustav Forsling. It would appear Cederholm has a good shot at being on the team, he suited up for Sweden in Lake Placid this past summer and with the tournament being on small ice, that gives him an advantage as he is not only used to the North American ice surface, it’s where he is most comfortable. Meanwhile, Forsling, the Canucks fifth round pick this past June, has spent the entire season in the Swedish Hockey League. As a defenceman at 18-years-old, to do that, is pretty extraordinary. He has five points (3-2-5) and is plus-5 through 25 games.

THE AUD IS ROCKIN’: The Utica Memorial Auditorium hasn’t been too kind to the opposition this season, as the Comets boast an 8-1-1 record on home ice, compared to a 7-4-2 record on the road. The Aud, which has sold out six times already this season, isn’t the biggest rink around, but it is loud, creating a CenturyLink Field type of home-ice advantage for the Comets. “It’s an exciting place to play,” said Comets forward, Hunter Shinkaruk. “The fans really get excited here. When people bring that kind of energy every game it really makes it fun. It’s a long season and when your fans have that kind of energy level, it really pushes you.”

MAKING HISTORY: The Comets took part in history on November 22 as they faced-off against the Syracuse Crunch at the Carrier Dome in front of 30,715 fans, setting the record for the largest indoor crowd to watch a hockey game in the United States. “It was a really cool experience,” said Shinkaruk. “Not a lot of people will get to play in a game like that in their career, so to get to play in a game like that, in my first season, is something that I feel very blessed to get that experience.”

WELCOME BACK, MCNALLY: It has been an odd journey for Patrick McNally. Nobody knew who this guy was when the Canucks drafted him in the fourth round in 2010. He then spent one more season playing Prep Hockey at Milton Academy, so people still didn’t know much about him. Then, his freshman season at Harvard happened where, as a defenceman, he posted 28 points (6-22-28) in 34 games. However, after the academic issue occurred, McNally was only able to play seven games his sophomore season, and missed half of his junior year. Now, as a senior, he appears to be back on track with his development. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder has racked up 13 points (4-9-13) in 10 games thus far.

EAT FRESH: The Canucks saw four of their prospects partake in the 2014 SUBWAY Super Series. Jake Virtanen suited up for Team WHL, while Cole Cassels, Jared McCann and Jordan Subban all played for Team OHL. Last year, the Canucks had three prospects (Gaunce, Horvat and Shinkaruk) play in the Series.

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