Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tourney bolsters faith in prospects

Coach pleased with play even in 2-1 loss

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PENTICTON, B.C. -- The day was not a success, since the Winnipeg Jets' rookies fell 2-1 to the host Vancouver Canucks in the last game of the Canucks' Young Stars Classic tournament.

But Keith McCambridge, the coach of the AHL's St. John's IceCaps who was running the Jets' bench for this tournament, still had a pleased look on his face at the South Okanagan Events Centre Monday afternoon.

"We're doing a good job as an organization stockpiling good draft picks, good players in the organization," McCambridge said after his club scored two victories prior to Monday's defeat. "We had success in the first two games and we wanted to finish undefeated and you can see from the game we had against Edmonton (a 7-2 win on Saturday), that teams knew there were some good players on this (Winnipeg) roster.

"Most definitely this had more of a closer feel to the regular season compared to the other games."

'We're doing a good job as an organization stockpiling good draft picks, good players in the organization'

-- Young Jets head coach Keith McCambridge, also head coach of the Jets' farm team, the AHL St. John's IceCaps

A goal on the power play with just less than seven minutes remaining by Hunter Shinkaruk was the difference on Monday.

Austen Brassard had Winnipeg's only goal, putting the Jets into a 1-0 lead in the first.

The rest of the way, the young Jets found Canucks prospect goalie Joacim Eriksson, who's likely bound for the AHL, very difficult. They outshot Vancouver 32-23 over the contest.

And Eriksson looked cool in turning away Winnipeg's serious onslaught in the final five minutes of the game.

"I thought their goalie played pretty well," McCambridge said. "We had lots of chances, just were unable to finish on him. That said, both of our goaltenders, Eric (Comrie) and Jussi (Olkinuora), played real strong also and not the ideal situation for Eric, coming into the game half-way through."

As for other assessments, McCambridge was happy to throw around some compliments after the game.

"Players that have stood out to me?" he said. "The whole group was good but Petan was a real good player for us in this tournament. And both of our goaltenders were excellent. I'm really impressed.

"And (Jacob) Trouba, he's got that polish to him that he looks like he's on the right path. (Josh) Morrissey, same thing. Calm, composed, really poised with the puck.

"Scheifs (Mark Scheifele), it was his best game here today of the three. And some of the guys we didn't know a lot about, well, Ryan Olsen from a coach's perspective is a real reliable player. And (tryout Axel) Blomqvist, big guy and skates well with some raw tools to work with. That's exciting that you might have a chance mould something out of a player you don't know much about. He's young and has size."

Blomqvist, who had two goals Saturday, and Mitch Theoret, who had four points in the first two games, are on their way to Winnipeg, having earned invites to main camp with their performances here.

The outcomes aside, the tournament provided a good leg up for the young players hoping to make their marks in the coming weeks.

"It allows you to get into the swing of things," said Jets centre Adam Lowry, a 2011 draft pick who had an assist Monday. "It's tough to replicate game-like situations in the summer so it's always nice to get into a few games and get up to speed and get all that rust off you have from the summer, get used to playing in systems again. I think it really helps going into main camp.

"I think the guys are fighting to impress each team's GM and you want to be at your best. I think that brings out the best in everyone. There was definitely some intensity out there (today). You see that with some of the big hits and some of the battles and some of the chirping after the whistles. It's a pretty good game-like feel."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 10, 2013 C3

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