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Jets Go 0-2 In Young Stars Weekend

*Something something* Jets struggled *something something* Young Stars Tournament weekend.

The Jets go 0 and 2 in two games against the Vancouver Canucks in the yearly “Young Stars Tournament” which was a little more scaled back than previous years thanks to absences from the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

The Winnipeg Jets always seem to struggle at these things, but this year was perhaps a bit more expected as quite honestly the Vancouver Canucks have a little bit more to pick talent wise from their prospect pool than the Jets do theirs. The Jets simply have seen all their top prospects graduate to the pro level the last couple of seasons and while this year’s Young Stars roster boasted a few notable players, none of them – save for maybe forwards Kristian Vesalainen and CJ Suess who will get strong looks at camp starting later this week – should have any real thoughts of making the pro club this coming season.

This weekend was mostly about getting a feel for what the Jets have in goaltending and defensive prospects while giving a handful of invited players some looks. Seven of the 12 forwards the Jets had on the prospects roster were there on team tryouts.

GAME ONE – Canucks: 8 – Jets: 2

The overall talent disparity was pretty evident in the first game the two teams played on Friday night as the Canucks took a 2-0 lead after the first period and then blew the game wide open with four more goals in the first ten minutes of the second period as they coasted to the 8-2 win.

Luke Green, Logan Stanley and Jacob Cederholm were the “vets” of the defensive group and while Green and Stanley have shown some nice development, Cederholm struggled. In all, the Jets made far too many mistakes with the puck and a quicker Canucks side punished the Jets for their repeated turnovers. they were not helped by a forward group that also didn’t quite have the talent or skating ability that the Canucks boasted.

That top line Vesalainen, Jansen Harkins and Michael Spacek was quite good and provided the only offense the Jets would see in the game.

GAME TWO – Canucks: 6 – Jets: 4

For a moment there it sure seemed like the second game would be a lot like the first.

The Canucks raced out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes and again were dominating most of the play, but to their credit the Jets rallied back in the second period and fired three goals of their own to tie things up in the second period.

The top line of Spacek, Vesalainen and Harkins was good yet again, but it was a second line of Suess, along with tryout invites Jimmy Huntington and Alexis D’Aoust that did a fair amount of damage as well.

The Canucks fourth goal midway through the third period wasn’t the game winner, but it sure felt like a bit of a back breaker type as it was one goalie Mikhail Berdin likely would have wanted a mulligan on.

The Canucks kids salted the game away with a fifth goal into an empty net, but the Jets second line had one last statement to make before the weekend wrapped up, getting the Jets back within one with a few seconds left.

One more Canucks empty net goal got the final score to where it finished.

Random Thoughts On The Weekend

  • Kristian Vesalainen looked pretty good, but you can tell the smaller ice and tighter checking threw him off a bit. He’s likely going to be fine with some experience which is exactly why these tournaments are played. Now we find out just how quickly he can adapt as he will have a few weeks in the main camp. If he doesn’t make the NHL roster, it’s been suggested he has a KHL deal lined up which would be fine, if he didn’t himself admit that the smaller ice surface was something he needed to adjust to. That adjustment won’t happen in the KHL where they use international sized ice surfaces.
  • Logan Stanley continues to develop nicely. He had a strong weekend making a couple of nice defensive plays and it’s obvious that he’s worked on being smarter with his positioning and being more aware of what is going on around him on the ice. He still struggles in dealing with players that come at him with speed, but that’s something that can be worked on in the AHL this season.
  • It will be very interesting to see how the Jets handle CJ Suess in the next couple of weeks. I still think he starts in the AHL but this weekend – especially his work in game two – I think did show he has the ability to be a good depth forward on the main roster.
  • Mikhail Berdin struggled in both games and looked scrambly in his crease throughout. It’s tough to see him earning a spot on the AHL roster this season.
  • Jansen Harkins and Michael Spacek should be key contributors for the Moose this season and showed reasons why this weekend.
  • Players who were with the club on tryouts that I’d like to see the Jets take a longer look at: forwards Kristen Reichel, Alexis D’Aoust and defenseman Justin Woods