The 8th annual Youngs Stars Classic hockey tournament is being held at the South Okanagan Events Centre again this September. This tournament allows fans to watch rising stars play and gives up-and-coming players the opportunity to impress an NHL team. The Youngs Stars tournament is hosted every year by the Vancouver Canucks, it features the team’s best prospects along with undrafted invitees who are given a chance to earn a professional contract.
If you are a Canucks fan, it is time to get excited as Vancouver is sending a team featuring 2017 first round draft pick Elias Pettersson, Kelowna Rockets winger Kole Lind, defenseman Olli Juolevi, 2017 Top Collegiate award winner Adam Gaudette, and the slick Swedish forward Jonathan Dahlen. The Winnipeg Jets are also attending this year, sending notable players such as the highly touted Finn Kristian Vesalainen, 6’7’’ shutdown defenseman Logan Stanley, and speedy Czech winger Michael Spacek.
The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have opted to not send teams this year, but the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, Canadian Interuniversity Sport title winners, and University of Alberta Golden Bears will be attending in their place. Although neither university has formally stated which players will be playing in the tournament, each roster is flooded with former WHL stars. Ex-Kelowna Rocket Austin Glover has found a home on the Thunderbirds, while the Golden Bears’ roster features the Kelowna Rockets’ second all-time leader scorer and fan favourite Tyson Baillie as well as the Okanagan’s own Cole Sanford, who hails from Vernon.
All eyes will be on Elias Pettersson. The 19-year-old Swede racked up the hardware this year. After being selected fifth overall in 2017, he made the jump to Sweden’s top hockey league, the SHL. He had one of the most impressive seasons in history as a teenager, finishing the season with 56 points in 44 games. His efforts earned him the honours of SHL MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Forward of the Year, and set the record for most points ever by a U-20 player, beating the totals of Peter Forsberg and the Sedin twins, among others. He followed a remarkable regular season by breaking more records in the playoffs. He shattered Henrik Sedin’s playoff point record by a U-20 player and was awarded Playoff MVP.
Pettersson originally was not going to see any action in this tournament after he fractured his wrist at the World Championships in May. But after a quick recovery, fans will get a chance to watch the most anticipated Canucks’ prospect since Bo Horvat.
The tournament will consist of four games—two between Vancouver and Winnipeg; UBC and U of A will likewise face-off twice. Pettersson and the Canucks take on the Jets Friday, September 7 starting at 7:30 pm and Sunday, September 9 at 2 pm. The university squads play on the 7th at 4 pm and on the 8th at 6.
Featured photo: Headlining the Canucks’ roster are forwards Kole Lind, Jonathan Dahlen and Jonah Gadjovich. (Image Source: NHL.com, May 9, 2018)