Coach Claude Noel may have found the key to getting Aaron Volpatti to play at his best.
Before Vancouver’s 5-3 win over San Jose at the Young Stars Tournament Monday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticon, B.C., Noel, the Manitoba Moose bench boss, sat down with the 25-year-old forward to discuss next season and what his offensive output could be.
In a nutshell, Noel lowballed Volpatti.
“I had a conversation with him before and asked him what he thought he could do if he was with us in Manitoba this year as far as numbers and he thought he could get more goals than the number I put,” laughed Noel.
Volpatti showed that on this night.
Skating alongside Steven Anthony and Kellan Tochkin, Volpatti scored two goals to pace Vancouver to its first win of the tournament.
“I got a little lucky there, Tanev made a good rush on the first goal and I was just backdoor so that wasn’t too hard and the other goal Tochkin made a great play, took a hit to make a play and I went in on a 2-on-1 and saw an opening on the near side and just shot,” said Volpatti.
Before lighting up the scoreboard with a pair of second period goals, Volpatti got the ball rolling with a fight against Sharks tough guy Joe Loprieno.
“I think it was probably a draw, he kind of got me once and I sort of fell down and I won the latter part of the fight,” he assessed. “It’s tough though, you’ve got to get a few fights under your belt before you get going.”
Volpatti’s tussle was one of three in the opening period and four in a rough game that saw 25 penalties handed out between the teams.
“It kind of wakes everyone up and obviously we fed off those first couple of scraps and couple big hits,” said Volpatti.
Vancouver’s offence was definitely awake as despite being outshot 38-27, the Canucks got to Thomas Heemskerk five times. Matt Fraser, Pierre-Olivier Morin and Chris Tanev scored the other goals for Vancouver.
Eddie Lack stood his ground in net for the Canucks making 35 saves, 18 in the first two periods as he rode a perfect performance into the third period.
From top to bottom, it was exactly the performance coach Noel was looking for and expecting.
“I enjoyed the game, I thought the players were way more involved, patient and it just looked like their real game came out. There was a lot of good players for us tonight, I thought we played well.”
NOTES: The Sharks were 2-for-7 on the power play, the Canucks went 1-for-5; Vancouver was outshot 20-9 in the third period.