Big goals, lots of assists, First Star of the Game honors, Player of the Week honors and national team try-outs; it was quite the month for Canucks prospects.
1). Brendan Gaunce, Belleville Bulls, OHL
After a slow month of November that saw Gaunce return to the Bulls line-up after missing nearly a month with a shoulder injury, the Canucks 2012 first-round draft pick regained his form in December, picking up 10 points (5-5-10) in nine games. Gaunce had three multi-point games in the month, including a three-point night on December 28th. The Bulls captain was named First Star of the Game twice in the month and also earned OHL Player of the Week honors for the week ending on December 30th, after picking up five points in two games. The Markham, Ontario, native has registered 24 points (13-11-24) in 30 games this season.
2). Darren Archibald, Chicago Wolves, AHL
Getting sent down to the ECHL at the start of the season may have been the best thing to happen to Archibald. Since being recalled to the Wolves, the 6-foot-3 forward has been nothing short of impressive, scoring five goals in nine games in the month of December, giving him six points (6-0-0) in 11 games in the AHL this season. Archibald’s best game of the month came on December 13th against the Hamilton Bulldogs, when the Newmarket, Ontario, product scored twice, had a fight and was named First Star. Despite only playing in 11 games, Archibald sits tied for third on the Wolves in goals and tied for first on the team in power play goals (3).
3). Zack Kassian, Chicago Wolves, AHL
Kassian didn’t find the back of the net in the month of December, however, the 6-foot-3 forward showcased some of his underrated play-making abilities, picking up six assists in nine games. Kassian also fired 29 shots on goal in the month, including an impressive eight shots on December 19th against Abbotsford. The Windsor, Ontario, native now has 18 points (6-12-18) in 27 games, along with a team-high 59 penalty-minutes. His 12 assists are good for second on the team, one behind the leader (Ebbett), while his 72 shots this season have him three off the team leader (Connauton).
Honourable Mention: Frank Corrado, Sudbury Wolves, OHL
December was a roller-coaster month of emotions for Corrado, who had points in five straight games, giving him five points (2-3-5) in 10 games in the month, while also earning himself an invite to the Team Canada World Junior Championships selection camp. The Sudbury Wolves captain scored the game-winner in the Team Canada intra-squad game and followed that up with the lone-goal the next day for Canada against the University of Alberta. Ultimately, Corrado didn’t make the Canadian team, but still impressed many with his solid play. (http://canucks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=647778) The 6-foot-one defenseman has 26 points (5-21-26) in 40 games this season, while also picking up 42 penalty-minutes.
-Team-Leader: Jordan Schroeder had a productive month for the Chicago Wolves, picking up six points (1-5-6) in nine games, giving him 19 points (9-10-19) in 29 games this season, which has him tied for the team-lead in goals and points.
-Scoring Goals in Sweden: Nicklas Jensen picked up four points (3-1-4) in eight games this past month for AIK in the Elitserien (Swedish Elite League), giving him a total of 16 points (12-4-16) in 35 games. Jensen’s 12 goals have him ranked eighth in the league in that category, first among junior-aged players, while he ranks fifth in game-winning goals (4).
-New Surroundings: After failing to get in the line-up on many nights with Djurgarden , Ludwig Blomstrand was transferred to a new Allsvenskan league team, Almtuna. Since joining his new squad the Canucks fourth-round selection in 2011 has picked up five points (5-1-6) in 12 games, while playing big minutes on the top-line.
-Monkey off the Back: It may have took a little longer than expected, but Joseph Labate finally notched his first goal of the season in December, while picking up three points (2-1-3) in five games for the University of Wisconsin. Labate has six points (3-3-6) in 16 games this season and is super-pumped for the new television series, Girl Meets World, a sequel to Boy Meets World. “Hopefully it’s as good as the original. I wish it was their son though to be honest, but I’m sure it will be good.” said Labate.