The St. James Jr Canucks came into the 2019-2020 season having lost 9 veteran players the previous year. This year, a young Canucks squad set out to shed the “rebuilding” tag.
Although the season started with a loss to a veteran Ft. Garry/Ft. Rouge Twins team, the Canucks have come out of the gate with a 4-2-0 record through the first six games.
In the first game on Friday, Sept. 27, rookie Kale Price scored the only Canucks goal, as the Twins rode a 39 save performance from their goaltender en route to a 4-1 win. Chris Sass and Graeme Shingleton assisted on Price’s first MMJHL goal.
Things didn’t get easier in game number two, as the Canucks welcomed the defending champion Pembina Valley Twisters to the St. James Civic Centre on Sept. 29. The Canucks flipped the script, however, killing seven penalties in a 3-1 win. Eric Wankling, Brandon Hughes and Cole Chicoine scored for the Canucks. Wankling also had an assist in the game, while Sass, Shingleton, Price and Craig Wiess added assists as well.
Nathan Cvar was solid between the pipes, stopping 27 of the 28 shots that came his way to pick up his first win of the season.
After that the Canucks traveled to St. Vital to face the Victorias on Thursday, Oct. 3. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be for the Canucks that night, as the Vics shut them out 3-0.
Cvar took the tough luck loss in net, stopping 27 of the 30 shots the Vics directed his way.
The Canucks then looked to get back on track when they welcomed the River East Royal Knights to the Civic Centre on Friday, Oct. 4. And they did just that, throwing 61 shots on net in a dominant 7-1 victory.
Craig Wiess (2G 3A), Kurtis Luke (2G 1A), Trent Halfdanson (3A), and Kale Price (1G 1A) led the way offensively with multi-point games. Darrin Chrisp and Adam Thurlbeck also scored goals, while Chris Sass, Jarrett Neudorf, Eric Wankling, Mack Whitely, Brady Whitely and Zach Greenwood had assists.
Noah Gilbert stopped 23 of 24 shots to pick up his first win in the MMJHL.
The Canucks looked to keep the momentum going on Tuesday, Oct. 15 when they hosted the Stonewall Jets. It was a tightly contested match-up the Canucks won 2-1, on the strength of a great defensive effort.
Kale Price continued his hot start, scoring his third of the season. Brady Whitely added the Canucks other goal, in addition to an assist. Defenceman Ethan Unruh had a pair of assists and Cam Brakel recorded an assist as well.
Nathan Cvar stopped 22 shots to pick up his second victory of the season.
The Canucks wrapped up this season opening stretch with a Friday night matchup with the Charleswood Hawks at Eric Coy Arena on Oct. 18.
Despite falling behind 3-1 after the first period, the Canucks were able to bounce back and win 4-3 in overtime.
Kale Price scored early for the Canucks, who then surrendered three consecutive goals to end the period. Trent Halfdanson and Chris Sass scored in the second to tie the game and after a scoreless third period, Cam Danylchuk ended the game in overtime with his first of the season. Sass and Price also had assists in the game, with Neudorf, Wiess, Unruh, Thurlbeck and Wankling registering assists as well.
Despite a rocky start that included some bad bounces, Noah Gilbert was able to shut the door on the Hawks the rest of the way, stopping 32 of 35 shots to pick up his second career MMJHL victory.
After this six game stretch, the Canucks are 4-2-0 and sit in a tie for third in the MMJHL.
Chalk Talk Three Stars
3 – Eric Wankling: The fourth year Canucks’ vet has made the transition from forward to defence look seamless, putting up four points (1G 3A) in six games from the back end.
2 – Nathan Cvar: The veteran netminder is 2-2-0 to start the season but has been stellar between the pipes, with a 2.00 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.
1 – Kale Price: Despite only being 17-years-old, Price has been the offensive leader for the Canucks, scoring four goals and adding three assists in six games.
The Canucks welcome the Transcona Railer Express to the St. James Civic Centre for an afternoon matchup on Sunday, Oct. 20. After that the Canucks head to Morris to face the Twisters on Friday, Oct. 25 before wrapping up the month hosting the St. Boniface Riels on Sunday, Oct. 27.
The Canucks are also raising money for CancerCare Manitoba and participating in this year’s Ride Inside! Visit this link to donate.