Wait and see for Canucks
The Niagara Falls Canucks are in a holding pattern.
The defending Golden Horseshoe champions picked up a win and a loss in exhibition play over the weekend, but head coach Frank Pietrangelo isn’t putting a whole lot of stock in those results.
“We’ve only been on the ice twice and then we had the two games,” he said. “We haven’t seen the guys enough yet and to make judgements — most guys only played one game and some played two — it’s way too early.”
The Canucks defeated the Thorold Blackhawks 7-2 and then dropped a 2-0 decision to the Caledonia Corvairs.
Andrew Bruno, Mathew Riva and Thomas Lenart had two goals each while Jake McKinstram added one.
Bailey Stumpo and Biley Bonjernoor replied for the Blackhawks.
“I think the most important thing for us, obviously we know the guys who played for us last year and what they’re all about, we signed some new players and some other players who are trying to make the team,” Pietrangelo said. “The only way you can properly judge them is in a game situation. You can practice all you want and do all the battle drills but I think you see the true character of players in games.”
The Canucks still have 36 players in camp but will lose eight to Ontario Hockey League camps which open Tuesday.
“It makes it tough. More or less half the team is missing from practice so it makes it difficult to put anything in place,” Pietrangelo said. “It’s kind of a wasted week. I don’t know why we all don’t start in succession. After the OHL makes their cuts, then we start.
“I think once everybody returns from OHL camps and we get our team in place, then we can start looking at where guys fit in and who’s who.”
The Canucks have practices scheduled all week followed by exhibition games versus Welland Friday at home at 7 p.m. and Saturday in Port Colborne at 7:10 p.m.
“It does give an opportunity to look at guys who are fighting to make the team still. We have spots still available and it gives us a chance to take a prolonged look at them with the extra ice time when everyone is missing,” Pietrangelo said. “We want to be down to our team by the end of the week at the latest and have most of our lineup back for the weekend so we can get a couple of games under our belts before the Showcase next weekend.”
The Canucks take on Chatham Saturday, Sept. 7 at 1:30 p.m. and Kitchener Sunday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Showcase Tournament. All games will be played in Pelham and count in the regular season standings.
In other exhibition action this weekend: Welland blanked Caledonia 1-0, the St. Catharines Falcons defeated Welland 5-1, Caledonia topped Thorold 5-1, and Thorold topped Welland 8-4.
Caledonia visits St. Catharines Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Gatecliff Arena and then travel to Caledonia Thursday night for an 8:30 p.m. rematch.
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