Ahead of this week’s exhibition series against the Women’s National Team squads, the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks got a chance to play on the ice at the Encana Events Centre on Saturday, putting up a goal scoring show in a 9-6 exhibition win over NWJHL rivals, the Sexsmith Vipers.
“Defensively, I was hoping we’d have a few more shining stars and there’s some work to do there, but overall, we had a lot of new guys in the lineup — a lot of the boys have never played a junior game before — so it was a good test for them,” says head coach Gene Cooper.
“I thought the majority of them did very well. Confidence got more and more as the game went on. Plays on offence when we had the puck, I thought that plays were getting better as the game went on.”
Layne Wycott, for the Canucks, opened the scoring shorthanded with an assist from Tanner Bahm 2:45 into the game.
Both teams traded goals, until the Canucks scored their sixth goal to make it 6-5 with 6.6 seconds left in the second period. That was the first of four straight goals.
Sexsmith had the last goal near the end of the third, but the Canucks took the win.
Ryan Buchan was in net for his first game with the team, while returner Matthew Ens sat on the bench.
“This was his first junior game, and he made some nice saves and we kind of left him hanging to dry a few times there, but he bounced back,” says Cooper.
Cooper notes the starter position is still “up in the air,” and that they are still making final roster decisions.
“There will be some harder decisions coming up here, but the ultimate goal is you want to put the best product on the ice that you can, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Up next for the Junior Canucks are a series of exhibition games against the Women’s National Team training camp squads — 7 pm Friday against the red squad and 12 pm Saturday against the white squad. It’s a prospect that excites the Canucks.
“That will be nice in all aspects, because it will be a little more structured and there’s enough skill and knowledge in that room, I think the boys will be able to play a little more structured game and it will be fun to watch,” says Cooper.