For some, the Young Stars Classic is the launching pad for a promising professional career. But for others, it’s the only time they’ll ever throw on an NHL jersey.
Those were the words from Jonathan Wall, the tournament’s chair and former director of hockey operations with the Vancouver Canucks, who reigned in the annual Young Stars Classic in B.C.’s Interior to start the weekend.
A pair of games kicked off the preseason showcase at Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre Friday afternoon, Sept. 16, headlined by a two-point performance from a first-round pick in the most recent NHL Draft.
Winnipeg Jets forward Brad Lambert scored once and added an assist in a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, putting a wrap on the tournament opener Friday afternoon.
Lambert, who’s joined by Canadian world junior standout Cole Perfetti on the Jets’ roster, was selected 30th overall in the 2022 NHL Draft.
The Canucks, meanwhile, battled their foes from Calgary later that night, blanking the Flames 3-0 thanks to goals from Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains, Fort St. John’s Tristen Nielsen and 2018 third-round pick Linus Karlsson.
Each of the Western Canadian squads will play twice more, before teams across the league gear up for the official start of NHL training camp week.
Vancouver’s top prospects will be back in action on Sunday and Monday afternoon. Games against the Jets and Oilers, in succession, will wrap up the Canucks’ annual trip to Penticton.
While B.C.’s team is headlined by 2021 second-round pick Danila Klimovich and the aforementioned Karlsson, the Oilers have brought a tournament-most four first-round picks to Penticton for the preseason showcase.
Among those high picks is Dylan Holloway, who set up James Hamblin’s game-winning goal on Friday, leading Edmonton to its early-tournament victory.
Saturday’s action at the SOEC includes a BCHL preseason matchup between the Penticton Vees and Chilliwack Chiefs. Puck drop is set for 2 p.m.