With the sun taking a hiatus for the weekend and the leaves falling to the ground, hockey was on the forefront here in Victoria, BC today. Over 7000 fans lined up early and braved the rain to catch a glimpse of their heroes. The day started off with the alumni game with the likes of Greg Adams, Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, Thomas Gradin and Orland Kurtenbach taking part. Greg Adams was flying all over the ice looking as if he could strap them on for another year in the NHL. In the end, the alumni played to a 4-4 draw. Marginally entertaining, but it was nice to see my boyhood idol Gradin skate and chip in a goal.
After a 30 minute wait, the big boys found their way onto the ice to a chorus of cheers and applause. I intently watched the warmup like a 9 year old boy soaking it all in. Finally - the main event! The puck drops and the action begins! Initially, I scanned the ice vigorously to find Mason Raymond was had been the talk of training camp. I am sad to say that I barely noticed he existed. Very disappointed by this. One of the main players that stood out for me today with his energy and big hits - Rick Rypien - opened the scoring to give the White a 1-0 lead. With about 3 minutes left in the first period, the Canucks Reich collectively held their breath as our savior Roberto Luongo was felled by a Brad Isbister shot. Luongo lay motionless on the ice for a few minutes. It appeared that he had taken the puck in the neck - reminiscent to last years playoffs. Roberto shook it off but immediately took himself out of the game and did not return. Lead by Alexandre Burrows, the Blue team would rally and eventually pull out a 4-3 win in the Canucks annual intra-squad game.
For my money, Burrows might have been the best player on the ice. Also, the line of Ryan Shannon, Ryan Kesler and Markus Naslund was simply dominant! Easily the best line in the game. Other standouts were Brad Isbister, Rypien, Alex Edler and Juraj Simek who had a goal and a couple helpers.
Disappointments were Michael Grabner, Luc Bourdon who was caught heading up ice on a turnover that nearly cost his side and Mason Raymond.
I am thoroughly excited that pre-season starts tomorrow and in 2 weeks it all begins for real! I would love to see what others thought of today's game....