Video: HIGHLIGHTS | Jets 4, Flames 1
PENTICTON, B.C. - The Winnipeg Jets prospects had the game their head coach was hoping for on the final day of the 2017 Young Stars Classic.
They were fast, physical and determined to get pucks on net, which had been a sore spot for the blue squad in the opening two games of the tournament.
The Jets fired 34 shots and allowed only 10 as they cruised to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Jansen Harkins led the way with a two-goal game, while Cristiano DiGiacinto and Kristian Reichel had a goal apiece to round things out offensively.
Mikhail Berdin stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced
"I liked the progression of the team," Moose coach Pascal Vincent said. "If you look at the first period of the first game and the third game, that's a different team. The guys were paying attention to the details that we were talking about. They wanted to showcase themselves. It's about getting better and showing that you really want to be a Jet in the future.
"As a team, we all played well today."
Video: POSTGAME | Pascal Vincent
For the third time in three games, the Jets allowed the opening goal as 2016 second-round pick Dillon Dube walked in off the right circle and fired a shot far side after linemate Glenn Gawdin won a battle and drew three defenders in front of the net to give the Flames an early 1-0 lead.
It was all Winnipeg from that point forward.
The Jets evened the score less than five minutes into the second period. Harkins did some great work to free the puck from the near corner before getting it back to the point for Jake Kulevich, who hammered a shot on goal. DiGiacinto was quick to the rebound, bunting it home from the lip of the blue paint to make it a 1-1 game.
"(Having) one practice before a game, it's tough when you're pulling guys from all over," DiGiacinto said of the team's early struggles. "At lunch you're sitting with different guys and over time, guys get a lot more comfortable with each other. It all starts off the ice. When guys start hanging out and start getting a feel for each other, and in practices when you're getting touches and are getting a sense for each others' speed and tendencies, it's a huge advantage to have those extra skates and work on the timing of everything."
DiGiacinto, who was one of a handful of invites at rookie camp, is now hoping to attend either Jets or Moose main camp to try and earn a pro contract.
Video: POSTGAME | Cristiano DiGiacinto
Over the past three years, the 21-year-old has attended main camp with the Tampa Bay Lighting twice, and rookie camp with the New York Islanders once.
"The biggest thing I feel is trying to make that jump to pro," he said. "I've been to a few camps now and I know what it's like at these rookie tournaments. Now it's the big jump to hopefully get an invite to main camp and show them that I'm really to make the jump to pro. … It was an awesome weekend."
Harkins put the Jets on top with 8:45 to play in the period as he took the puck down the far side, partially avoided the 6-foot-3, 205-pound defender, Kayle Doetzel, and drove a quick shot over the glove hand of Flames goalie Mason McDonald.
"We just stuck to the plan the coaches gave us," Harkins said. "The whole weekend we were trying to implement new systems every game. We watched a lot of video after each game and were trying to get better at some systematic things with what the Jets and Moose have been using the past few years."
Video: POSTGAME | Jansen Harkins
The Jets were in full control, leading the Flames 22-6 on the shot clock through two periods of play.
The Jets opened up a two-goal lead at 5:37 of the third. Logan Stanley showed great vision and made a terrific backdoor pass to find Harkins at the side of the net, and while his initial try was turned aside in tight, No. 58 stuck with it and chopped it home from a sharp angle to score his second of the night and third of the tournament.
Harkins, who played the first two games at centre, was put on his off wing for today's game.
"He scored two goals, yes, but the way that he was able to break the puck out on his off side, the way he was using his stick to counter-pinch and be in a good position moving the puck [was strong]," Vincent said. "I liked his game on the wing."
Added Harkins: "I thought I was skating pretty well all weekend. I noticed that chances were opening up because I'm feeling strong and fresh.
"I just wanted to come, have some fun and make some plays. … I think I showed what I can do. I got a couple good chances and was able to bear down and bury them."
Reichel scored into the empty net with 21 seconds left to salt away the victory.
LATE HITS: Defenceman Luke Green left the game late in the first period and did not return with an upper-body injury.
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com