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Super Sunday

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Forget the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was the Vancouver Canucks who put on the best show on Super Sunday.

Hardest shot, fastest skater, accuracy shooting, power play, a breakaway relay and a puck control relay – the annual Canucks Superskills competition, presented by McDonald’s, had it all.

The Canucks were divided into two teams, Blue and White, with the latter looking to defend its 15-14 win over the Blue squad last season. Both teams were paired with members of the Comox Valley Chiefs, a youth team from Vancouver Island.

Team White certainly didn’t blaze out of the gates as team Blue held a 3-0 lead after the first two events, a warm-up 3-on-3 shinny game and a puck control relay.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin then competed in a brother puck control showdown, with Hank barely edging out Danny to get Blue its third point.

“I never get tired of beating him,” laughed Henrik. “But I was cheating a little bit down there.”

Mason Raymond then stepped to the plate and tied the score at 3-3 by leading the White side to a speedy win in the fastest skater contest. The defending champion blazed around the rink in a time of 13.558 seconds; Mike Brown finished second at 13.950.

Considering The Great Dane Jannik Hansen was competing for team Blue, a lot of fans had that team picked as the early favorite. Unfortunately Hansen was disqualified on his first attempt and stumbled on his second, preventing him from reaching top gear.

“One little slip makes a big difference in that,” said Raymond, who can relate to Hansen as he slipped up in the fastest skater contest at the NHL All-Star skills competition earlier this year.

“You’re just trying to make every stride count and keep your feet underneath you.”

The Blue team then regained the lead after Alex Edler punished the net in the hardest shot contest with a blast of 103.0 MPH. It was poetry in motion from the defending champion as he nearly split the puck in two; his first attempt knocked out Sami Salo and his best of 102.6 MPH.

“I was a little worried about Sami’s shot being 102, but I stepped up,” said Edler, who added that next year he’ll take a run at Zdeno Chara’s NHL record 105.4 MPH.

Trailing 5-4, Raymond then put team White on his shoulders again as he broke four targets on seven shots in the accuracy-shooting contest. Steve Bernier also hit all four targets for team Blue, but it took him all eight pucks to do so.

“I’ve never done this even before but it’s a lot of fun to shoot and try to come up with a good shot,” said Raymond, who dethroned 2008 champion Daniel Sedin.

“I told Dan this was his event, but I guess not today.”

Raymond’s accuracy knotted things up at 6-6 and team White took charge from there.

White outscored Blue 3-2 in the power play competition, increasing its lead to 9-8, putting the event on the line in the breakaway relay, where every goal counted as a point towards the final score.

Raymond had a pair of goals and Roberto Luongo stood his ground as team White held on for a thrilling 17-16 win to defend its crown.

Autographs from Fin, face painting, photos with the Stanley Cup and an exciting finish in the skills challenge; Super Sunday really lived up to its billing.

Net proceeds from the Superskills event go to the Canucks for Kids Fund, Ronald McDonald House British Columbia, KidSport BC, the NHLPA's Goals And Dreams Fund, and the Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund.
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