by Mike Benton, Special to SJSHARKS.comPENTICTON, Canada
– IIn a preseason tournament setting that showcases prospect talent, the San Jose Sharks had visions of getting out of Penticton with one final statement against a familiar playoff foe.
That was, until the Vancouver Canucks had an answer, and the Sharks had none in return.
The host Canucks used a goal and an assist from Adam Polasek and rallied to score three unanswered goals to defeat the Sharks, 5-3 at the 2011 YoungStars Tournament at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Wednesday.
The Sharks prospects closed their tournament schedule winning one of their three games and were led offensively by forward Nathan Moon’s pair of goals in the loss.
“Overall (we had) some good things and some things we definitely need to work on – moving pucks,” said Worcester Sharks head coach Roy Sommer, who coached San Jose’s prospects in the tournament. “But some guys that needed to step up, I think, in this game did a pretty good job.”
Vancouver, who eliminated the Sharks in the Western Conference Final last season, rallied from a 3-2 deficit with goals in the second and third periods from Darren Archibald, Polasek and Anton Rodin.
Mike Connolly was among many in a Sharks jersey who registered a point. He tallied an assist on Moon’s second goal to complete a +1 rating in two tournament games, just months after helping guide the University of Minnesota-Duluth to an NCAA national championship.
“I thought as a team we were good – we stuck together,” said Connolly. “For guys that have only been together for a week, that shows a lot of character. But it was a tough game, we made too many mistakes and didn’t help out our goalie enough tonight.”
Ben Thomson got the Sharks on the board with 13:41 left in the first period when he followed up a second chance rebound between the circles and blistered a slap shot past the glove of Canucks goaltender David Honzik.
Vancouver leveled the game, 1-1 with 11:33 elapsed in the period when Stephen Janes took a redirected feed at the right circle and converted on a one-timer past Sharks goaltender J.P. Anderson
Moon’s first goal of the tournament came on the power play which put the Sharks back in the lead, 2-1 just 1:03 into the second period. After Honzik misplayed the puck behind the Canucks net, Moon skated in nearby for the steal and stuffed a forehander into an empty net.
The Canucks answered with 16:09 left in the period on Prab Rai’s first goal of the tournament when he walked out from the right boards and flipped a shot toward the net that slid past Anderson on a deflection.
Moon countered with a sharp angle shot from the left goal line, the Sharks’ second power play goal of the game, which deflected past Honzik to put San Jose back in the lead at 3-2 with 7:11 elapsed in the second period.
The see-saw pace continued when Archibald used his speed to catch up to a loose puck at the left circle and get a wrist shot past Anderson with 8:18 remaining, tying the game at 3-3.
Polasek then launched drive from the center point to give the Canucks the lead at 4-3 on a power-play goal with 5:35 left.
The Sharks responded with pressure on the Canucks net late in the period, but Honzik held his ground. Among the nine shots he faced was a bid by Trevor Cheek with three minutes left on a wrist shot from the right circle on an outnumbered break, but Honzik turned the shot away.
The Canucks closed out the scoring in the third period on an insurance marker – their third unanswered goal – for a 5-3 lead when Rodin used a deke to the forehand on a move from the right wing with 4:07 left, completing a lengthy outlet pass from Polasek.
Honzik earned the win in net for the Canucks with 21 saves. Anderson, making his second appearance of the tournament, stopped 19 shots and took the loss. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
Moon and rookie forward Brodie Reid
shared the Sharks tournament lead in scoring with three points and suited up in all three games. Reid opened the tournament with his biggest output – a two point effort – in the Sharks’ 6-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Sunday. CAMP CRAZY
The Sharks rookies return to San Jose in a relatively quick pace, skating at Sharks Ice at San Jose at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Veteran players will be available to jump into preseason action for the first time on Wednesday, Sept. 21 when the Sharks visit the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center starting at 7:05 p.m.