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Team Blue wins Superskills 16-14

by Nolan Kelly / Vancouver Canucks

Rogers Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy got things started, welcoming a sell-out crowd of the Canucks faithful, and thanking them for braving the uncharacteristic Vancouver winter storm. It was a raucous crowd, filled with a younger audience than one might find at Rogers Arena on game night, and their enthusiasm showed.

The contest divided the Canucks into two teams: Team Green, featuring Dan Hamhuis, Christian Ehrhoff, Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass, Ryan Kesler, Christopher Tanev, Mikael Samuelsson, Manny Malhotra, Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo against Team Blue, comprised of Keith Ballard, Sami Salo, Jeff Tambellini, Alexandre Burrows, Mason Raymond, Daniel Sedin, Aaron Rome, Jannik Hansen, Cody Hodgson, Victor Oreskovich and Cory Schneider.

The Canucks players brought a few members of the 2028 draft class with them as  their children got to take part in the family affair. Ryan Kesler’s daughter even donned a pair of skates.

The team was joined by the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins, a minor hockey team that won the right to compete alongside their heroes by winning the Danone Superskills Contest.

The day started with some 3 on 3 warm up action, with the nets moved up to the blue line. Jeff Tambellini potted two for team blue. One which would have made Alexander Ovechkin jealous. 4-2 final, one point awarded to Team Blue.

Puck control relay was next. It was a three-on-three contest with one point awarded to the fastest team.

Hodgson, Ballard and Burrows went for Team Blue, with Malhotra, Kesler and Tanev for Team Green. Team Green took it, with Tanev edging out Burrows in the final pairing. The competition was tied at one.

The one-on-one puck control relay featured Daniel vs. Henrik: the ultimate battle to decide once and for all who the better Sedin is. They skated neck and neck through the entire course, ending in a dead heat; a finish too close to call. Upon video review, Henrik took it by a whisker.

Let the trash talking begin.

“I’m 5-0 against Daniel,” said Henrik, rubbing a little salt in the wound.

Up next, the fastest skater event. One point for fastest skater, one point for fastest overall team score.

Tambellini lead early, until Hansen turned it up with a time of 13.96. Then it was perennial favourite and 17 time champion Mason Raymond’s turn. He registered a time of 13.6 for team blue, taking the title for the second year in a row.

“I knew Jeff was going to be right up there, but it’s really anybody’s game. Just focus on taking your strides and making sure everyone counts,” said Raymond.

And a possible three-peat next year?

“I hope so.”

Team Blue gets both points, up 5-2.

The hardest shot competition was next. With Alexander Edler out injured, Team Blue’s Sami Salo was the overwhelming favourite heading in. Aaron Rome got things started with a 96.4 mph blast, followed up by a 99.2 from Dan Hamhuis. Salo was up next. He didn’t disappoint, unloading his 101.5 mph cannon to take the lead. Fellow defensemen Christian Ehrhoff was the final shooter. Perhaps a bit of a dark horse going in, tallied a 101.1 mph shot.

“I knew I had a good chance tonight, cause Eddie wasn’t here, but it’s been a long time for me and i’m just warming up,” said Salo.

Up next, the accuracy shooting, featuring Daniel Sedin, who went four for four in the NHL all-star game skills completion last month.

In the end, Daniel fell short and the accuracy shooting went to a playoff to decide between Team Blue’s Alex Burrows and Team Green’s Mikael Samuelsson, who both went four for five. Burrows took the one off playoff for Team Blue, increasing their lead to 8-4.

“Sami told me ‘you better do it in the first shot, otherwise, I’m gonna win’”, said Burrows.

Up next the 3-1 relay, where three offensive players have 60 seconds to score as many goals as possible against one defenseman and a goalie. The goalies managed pretty well, allowing only seven total goals in six minutes. 12-7 for team blue.

The afternoon’s final even, the breakaway relay, saw each Canuck get a chance against to score on netminders Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo. Jeff Tambellini gets the award for most creative breakaway attempt, for taping the puck to his stick, pulling an eccentric Robbie Schremp inspired move. He almost got the puck past Luongo, but the tape was little too sticky.

The teams alternated goals, with Green, making an aggresive comeback. They fell short in the end, with the final score a 16-14 win for Team Blue.

Net proceeds of the event go to the Canucks for Kids Fund, the NHLPA Goals & Dreams Fund, KidSport BC, the Britannia Hockey Academy, and the Boys & Girls Club Hockey Program. In 2009, this event raised in excess of $170,000 for the Canucks for Kids Fund, the NHLPA Goals & Dreams Fund, Ronald McDonald House British Columbia, KidSport BC and the Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund. The Canucks Centre for BC Hockey in partnership with BC Minor Hockey raised an additional $2500 for minor hockey teams throughout BC.

The Canucks for Kids Fund dedicates resources to assist charities who support children’s health and wellness, foster the development of grassroots hockey, and facilitate and encourage education in British Columbia. Thanks to the generosity of our fans, donors, players, employees and sponsor partners, the CFKF has granted over $28 million to charities in British Columbia over the last two decades serving over 85 different organizations helping them to reach their goals.

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