Some individual skill combined with puck luck helped the Edmonton Oilers youngsters defeat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 prospects on Monday to take home the unofficial Young Stars Classic championship. Both teams came into the finale undefeated having defeated the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers came out to start the game with more pep in their step, dominating play for the first four minutes of the match, with 2020 1st-rounder Dylan Holloway ringing a backhander off the goalpost next to Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs in the first ninety seconds. The Canucks rose to the task in the ensuing minutes, gaining some momentum off the successful penalty kill of a Tristen Nielsen cross check midway through the period.
The game featured a consistently lively pace as one would expect between two teams looking for overall tournament bragging rights. Canucks Chase Wouters and Arshdeep Bains both delivered big hits in a feisty first period.
To open the second the Canucks had the advantage with a carry-over power play, but Oilers goalie Ryan Fanti (undrafted out of the University of Minnesota Duluth) was up to the task.
Five minutes into the second period, West Vancouver native and former Vancouver Giants forward Cole Shepard jammed Fanti’s pads after a whistle and started a minor melee. Oilers winger Jake Chiasson took an equalizer by roughing Shepard, but moments later Danila Klimovich went off for a hook and the Oilers had a 4-on-3 chance.
It was after another successful Canucks penalty kill that Edmonton actually jumped on the board. Reid Schaefer’s wrister from the left circle eluded Silovs at 8:38 of the 2nd. Schaefer, a hometown Edmontonian, played juniors in Seattle of the Western League and was taken with the 32nd overall pick in this summer’s NHL Draft.
Midway through the game, Olivier Rodrigue, a 22-year-old former 2nd-rounder from 2018, took over for Fanti in net to split the game. Silovs went the distance for the Canucks.
The real breakthrough came when Holloway blew through the right wing circle around Canucks D-man Chad Nychuk and tucked home a shorthanded goal at 13:10, his third tally of the tourney.
As the same power play continued, the Canucks answered in a ferocious manner. A relentless attack led to Linus Karlsson’s 2nd goal of the long weekend on a rebound in front, cutting the lead in half.
Would the fact that Canucks D-man Alex Kannok-Leipert fed Filip Engaras fists two-and-a-half minutes into the 3rd period spark some momentum?
Bingo. Less than forty seconds after the fight, Karlsson scored again from along the goalline to tie the game. The unassisted goal followed what was AKL’s second fight of the tournament.
A fluke goal came next. Oilers top-pair D-man Max Wanner fired a puck from the right point that hit a stick, popped in the air, end-over-end over Silovs, and landed in behind him for a 3-2 Edmonton lead. It seemed par for the course for the day. The Winnipeg Jets game winner in the early game, a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames, went in off a helmet in front.
The Oilers stretched the lead at 11:43 with a Cole Dubinsky goal and never looked back. They added an empty netter.