Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser, from left, Elias Pettersson, of Sweden, and Derrick Pouliot celebrate Pouliot’s winning goal against the Colorado Avalanche during overtime NHL hockey action in Vancouver, on Friday November 2, 2018. With the Canucks in rebuild mode, fan expectations were low heading into hockey season. But 15 games in, the Canucks (9-6-0) were second in the Pacific Division on Monday and riding a three-game win streak, thanks in large part to the team’s young stars. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

‘We don’t quit’: Early season success no surprise for Vancouver Canucks players

The squad’s top five scorers are all 25 or younger

Young stars are blazing a new trail for the Vancouver Canucks and defying the flagging expectations that loomed over the team heading into the season.

Fifteen games into the 2018-19 campaign, the Canucks (9-6-0) have chalked up wins against tough teams like Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh and climbed to second in the Pacific Division.

“We have a lot of guys in here that want to win and want to prove people wrong,” said Bo Horvat, the team’s 23-year-old first-line centre. “Everybody wants to prove that we can be a good hockey team that can step up and compete with anybody. And I think we’ve been doing that so far.”

The Canucks finished second-last in the Pacific last season, out of the playoff race for the third year in a row. They also lost veteran superstars Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who retired at the end of the year following 17 seasons in Vancouver.

READ MORE: Freshman phenom: Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks beat Avs 7-6

The team signed free agents Jay Beagle, Tim Schaller and Antoine Roussel in the off-season, but questions lingered about where the Canucks scoring would come from.

So far, the squad’s top five scorers are all 25 or younger. Rookie Elias Pettersson leads the pack with nine goals and six assists over nine games.

The 19-year-old Swedish centre was named the NHL’s second star for last week based in part on his eye-popping five-point performance in Vancouver’s 7-6 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. He’s now the youngest player in Canucks history to record five-plus points in a regular-season game.

Pettersson was also named the league’s top rookie for October despite missing two weeks with a concussion.

Injuries have sidelined a number of other Canucks, too, including defenceman Alex Edler (knee injury), goalie Anders Nilsson (fractured finger) and left winger Sven Baertschi (concussion).

But Pettersson said the team still has what it takes to get wins.

“I think if everyone is heading to the same goal and everyone is focused to do what they can bring to the team and do that every game, good things will happen,” he said.

Vancouver is currently tied for third in the league in wins, behind only the Nashville Predators and the Lightning.

“Obviously it surprised a lot of people out there,” said 21-year-old right-winger Brock Boeser. ”But it just goes to show the trust of the guys within this room. We all believe in each other and it’s that next-man-up mentality. And we don’t quit. It’s fun to watch.”

Canucks head coach Travis Green said he likes the way his players are buying into a team mentality.

“No one is bigger than the team. Every guy in the room plays to win. And when you do that, good things happen,” he said. ”Individually you bring your best, but collectively you win and lose as a team.”

Fans are buying in, too. A crowd of more than 18,000 at Rogers Arena on Friday was raucous, an atmosphere that Vancouver hasn’t seen much in recent years.

“You can sense that people are excited about a lot of our young guys and the way that they’re competing,” Green said. “When you feel that (from the crowd) at the end of a game or when you score a goal, that’s why you play the game. It’s a privilege to play in the NHL. It’s extremely special.”

The Canucks will look to build on a three-game win streak as they start a six-game road trip Tuesday in Detroit.

“We want to play well, we want to take points when we can in the eastern conference and win games on the road,” Horvat said. “We’ve got lots of confidence going on the road right now and to keep it rolling is going to be huge for us.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Film documents transformation of snowboarders, surfers

Former professional athletes forged deep ties with communities

Comox Valley Santa’s Workshop in need of bicycles for youngsters, gifts for teens

Santa’s Workshop, at 464 Puntledge Road (formerly the Red Cross building), is… Continue reading

Transitioning back into the world

Courtenay man had been living outdoors before starting Sally Ann program

A cuddle and a coffee: Six Island towns named among Canada’s most cozy

Sidney, Campbell River, Courtenay, Parksville, Tofino and Ucluelet crack Expedia’s top 40

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Mid Island Farmers Institute discusses fleece at November meeting

Are you a lover of wool and local fibre? Interested in raising… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Most Read