It was a weekend in Penticton that the Vancouver Canucks’ front office won’t forget.
Led by the off-ice appearances of Henrik and Daniel Sedin, the Canucks made their presence felt in the South Okanagan from Sept. 16 to 19 thanks to standout performances from prospects Danila Klimovich, Tristen Nielsen and Linus Karlsson at the 2022 Young Stars Classic.
Though lacking first-round talent, Vancouver finished the tournament with a 2-1 record and did so with a roster that contained mostly signed free agents and former mid-round picks.
Klimovich, a second-round pick in 2021, found the back of the net in the team’s Sunday afternoon showdown with the star-studded Winnipeg Jets, who brought former World Junior standouts Brad Lambert and Cole Perfetti to Penticton.
“He’s got a heavy shot, he’s got some vision and he made a couple of really nice plays,” Jeremy Colliton, the Abbotsford Canucks’ new head coach, told reporters when asked about Klimovich’s Sunday performance.
Klimovich’s time in Penticton puts a wrap on his summer-long B.C. trip. The native of Belarus spent has spent the last few months acclimating to North American culture.
Nielsen and Karlsson, meanwhile, enjoyed multi-point games all weekend. The 22-year-olds combined to score five goals over the team’s three games.
The forwards are expected to suit up for Abbotsford in the AHL to start the season.
“We’re all playing with everything we’ve got and everybody has something to prove,” Nielsen said.
The Canucks’ undefeated run at the showcase ended Monday. The Edmonton Oilers, who brought four first-round picks to Penticton, downed B.C.’s team 5-2 despite a multi-goal performance from Karlsson.
Still, it was easy for Colliton to categorize Vancouver’s weekend in Penticton as a successful one.
“It was great for a lot of different reasons,” he said following the tournament’s conclusion. “I hadn’t been back (to Penticton) since I was a kid, so it was great to be back…obviously a great city, great area and a great part of the world and Canada.”
The Oilers left the South Okanagan as the Young Stars Classic’s only undefeated team. Joined by the Jets and Calgary Flames, Western Canada’s NHL team returned from their COVID-19 hiatus to once again entertain the Penticton crowd.
Each squad played three games, from Friday to Monday. The recent addition of the Seattle Kraken to the NHL prompted speculation in June that the Penticton-hosted tournament will soon feature Washington State’s team.