The Winnipeg Jets prospects put in a solid effort for the second straight night but didn’t get the result they wanted Monday to close out a tournament of NHL hopefuls in Belleville, Ont.
The Jets prospects were edged 2-1 by the Ottawa Senators in the last game of the 2019 Rookie Showcase at CAA Arena. Jonathan Gruden, a fourth-round pick of the Sens in 2018, flipped the winning goal past Jets goalie Griffen Outhouse at 2:40 of the three-on-three overtime period.
Winnipeg finished the tournament 1-1-1. Head coach Pascal Vincent’s squad picked up right where it left off after a 2-1 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens prospects Sunday night, outskating and outchancing the Sens for most of the matchup.
It was a far cry from Friday’s debacle when they were thumped 8-1 by the Sens to kick off the tournament.
But in OT, Winnipeg rarely had possession and was outshot 4-0, although 2017 first-round pick Kristian Vesalainen streaked in and poked the puck wide of the post just 20 seconds after the faceoff to begin the extra session.
The lanky Finn showed some flashy moves during the game, particularly with the Jets enjoying five power-play opportunities. He used his big frame to protect the puck and snapped a couple of brilliant passes to defencemen Ville Heinola and Leon Gawanke creeping in from the point.
Backstopped by some tremendous goaltending from Kevin Mandolese and his replacement, Mads Sogaard, Ottawa snuffed out each short-handed situation.
Cole Maier, named the game’s third star, beat Mandolese just 1:41 into the opening period with one of his four shots on goal. Kristian Reichel, who was in a feisty mood all game and engaged in a couple of shoving matches, picked up the lone assist.
Josh Norris tied it up for Ottawa about nine minutes later with a quick shot that eluded Winnipeg starter Adam Carlson.
Joona Luoto, 21, who played the past three seasons with Tappara in Finland’s Liiga before inking a three-year, two-way deal with the Jets in June, was noticeable for all the right reasons for the third game in a row. The 6-2, 190-pound undrafted forward should be a valuable contributor for the Moose this season.
The rookies return home today, and the team brass needs to decide in short order which players earned another look. Jets training camp begins with medicals and fitness testing Thursday, with on-ice sessions starting Friday at Bell MTS Iceplex.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).