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Camrose, Alta - Michael Grabner scored a pair of goals as the Canucks rookie squad battled back for a 3-3 tie against the Flames prospects in the second period of Monday's game, but could do no more as Calgary truimphed 6-3 in Camrose.
"I don't want to make any excuses but it's our first game and a long off-season and a lot of the guys are new here," said Grabner. "It was fun to play with them, but it takes a little while to get used to one another. We'll be better tomorrow."
"I think as the game went on, we picked it up and we tied it up there. We stayed competitive but we let it slip out of our hands towards the end."
Canucks goaltender Julien Ellis left the game after twisting a leg trying to cut across his crease to thwart an Aki Seitsonen breakaway attempt early in the third that gave Calgary a 5-3 lead.
Oren Eizenman had the other goal for the Canucks, who will get a chance to redeem themselves against the Oilers' rookie squad Tuesday night - a game that can be watched live on Canucks.com at 6 pm PST.
Flames prospect John Negrin earned the game star setting up John Armstrong for a goal on Morgan Clark just 10 seconds into the game.
Greg Nemisz, the Flames first round pick in 2008, added a second goal in the first period with assists going to Keith Aulie and Hugo Carpentier. Lance Buoma tipped in a T.J. Brodie shot from the point and then, with 1.7 seconds remaining in the second period, Adam Cracknell picked up a rebound off a point shot to give the Flames a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.
Cracknell's goal stood up as the winner.
Both Grabner and Cody Hodgson played on a top line with Dan Gendur and impressed against an older, more experienced Flames team.
Daniel Rahimi and Yann Sauve both impressed on the Canucks blue line.
"They [the Flames] are big players and they move the puck well," said Sauve. "I think we've got a good team too and we just need to be able to compete against them."
"I felt good, especially since it was the first game here and at that level, but I think did well. I still have to work on some aspects [of my game] and just keep working."
Grabner on scoring: "I feel good [about scoring two goals] but it wasn't just me, it was the guys too. They crashed the net and opened some room for me and I was lucky to be at the right spot at the right time."
Sauve on being part of the team: I was looking at the sweater in the room and I was saying "Wow, it's a dream come true" but it's still rookie camp but just to put the Canucks Sweater on, I'm pretty proud of it. I hope to put it on at another time during the regular season.
Vancouver out shot Calgary 24-22.
After a gruelling battery of fitness tests and three on ice sessions at UBC, the Canucks prospects head to Camrose to face off against the Alberta contingency. The roster of 23 young Canuck players take on the prospects of the Calgary Flames before meeting the young Oilers' squad Tuesday night.
Opening night at Encana Arena started off with some hiccips including shattered glass during warmup, which was replaced but came out just 1:30 into the game. The glass stalled the action and quieted the buzzing around of 2500 soldout seats and 500 standing room audience. Apparently the Flames broke the glass earlier at practice as well but let's hope those opening night jitters are now out of the system when the Canucks hit the ice.
The Canucks bring zero NHL experience on the roster and four players fresh from the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Among those draft picks is first round pick, Cody Hodgson, who is already drawing comparisons to Trevor Linden and predictions about him leading the Canucks are plentiful.
Of course, 2006 first rounder, MIchael Grabner, has been waiting in the wings for a few years and after training hard this summer, is ready to break through and show this new management team that he deserves a spot on the roster. As one of the veterans in the group, Grabner will need to call upon his experience to lead the team in Camrose. He'll get to show what he can do amongst the best young players in the Canadian Northwest.
With Roberto Luongo in net for the Canucks, Cory Schneider has to be patient for his call up to the big club but with the departure of Drew MacIntyre's departure this summer, Schneider's chance has arrived. His first test will be the next two days in Alberta as he gets his opportunity to show why he was drafted 26th in the 2004 draft.
The young Canucks fly to Alberta following a morning skate at UBC, then play the Calgary Flames young team Monday night after a 1-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers the night before.”
The Flames looked very sharp Sunday night but will likely dress a different lineup Monday having scratched five players and losing one to injury against Edmonton. Kyle Greentree was hit from behind by Geoff Paukovich early in the third that saw him struggle to get to his feet and carried out on a stretcher. Paukovich received a five minute major for boarding and a misconduct.
Despite being comprised of players from different levels around the world, the group worked cohesively and communicated well as a team.
Especially impressive was goalie Matt Keetley, the hands down star of the game and the only Flames player to log NHL minutes - nine to be exact. He stopped 22 shots for a shutout to open his tournament, which included a breakaway against Colin McDonald. Keetley came right out to challenge McDonald, taking away his shot, which weakly made it to the net and easily stopped by the Flames keeper. His only bobble that night was when he mishandled the puck behind his net and in the possession of an Oiler and an empty net but Keetley got back to get enough of the puck to prevent a goal.
The crowd in Camrose was excited to see the battle of Alberta with a soldout crowd and although, it may not be as packed when Vancouver rolls into town, it will no doubt be an interesting match up when the Canucks take on the Flames.
OTHER NEWS: Check back to Canucks.com for videos, features, blogs, and exclusive photos from the week’s events.
Don't forget to watch the live stream of the Canucks vs. Flames/Oilers prospects Monday and Tuesday on Canucks.com. Tune in tonight starting at 6:00pm PST. Game time on Tuesday, September 16th is at 6:00pm PST. In addition to live game action, don't miss the special intermission features and guests from Encana Arena in Camrose.