PENTICTON, B.C. — As debuts go, it was a dandy — akin to hitting a hole-in-one off the first tee, of slamming a homer into the upper deck in the first at bat, of painting a masterpiece upon picking up a brush for the first time or scoring a goal on a first shift.
Yes, weeks from now — heck, as early as later today — it will be nothing but a distant memory and a forgotten chapter in the rebirth of the Winnipeg Jets. But Monday night’s 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks at the South Okanagan Events Centre in their first contest at the Young Stars tournament offered up enough memorable moments to turn Jets’ fans — already buzzing about the club’s return — positively giddy.
- A highlight-of-the-night goal by first-round pick Mark Scheifele, who scored a short-handed goal with a dandy forehand-backhand deke and then set up Jason Gregoire on a gem of a pass. Scheifele, it says here, was the best player on the ice and left little doubt the Jets’ selection of him seventh overall — panned by some critics on draft day in June — was warranted;
- The steady performance by goaltender Edward Pasquale, who kicked out all 27 shots for the win and the shutout;
- A solid all-round effort by defenceman Zach Redmond, the former Ferris State star who work the captain’s ‘C’ for the Jets;
- A gritty game by Klarc Wilson, the former Edmonton Oil Kings/Brandon Wheat King who is in camp on a free-agent tryout;
- The work of Gregoire, who also hit the post and looked very comfy on the wing with Scheifele and Carl Klingberg;
- The dandy first goal by Levko Koper, the seventh-round draft pick of the Thrashers who had 82 points last year for the Spokane Chiefs. Koper, FYI, is also in camp on a free-agent tryout and potted an empty-netter with 46.3 seconds remaining;
- And, finally a spirited collective effort by the squad, including three fights by Wilson, Ben Chiarot and Austen Brassard.
The Jets are back on the ice Tuesday night (9:30 p.m. CT, 1290 Sports Radio) against the Edmonton Oilers, have just a practice day Wednesday before wrapping up the tourney with a matinee against the Vancouver Canucks (1:30 p.m. CT) on Thursday.
Main training camp for the entire squad goes Saturday, Sept. 17th at MTS Centre.