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

Outdoor ice rink opens in the North Shuswap

Those looking to skate in the fresh air can do so at Farrell’s Field in Celista

Man admits responsibility for 2016 death of Shuswap motorcyclist

Brian Watson, 60, died after being struck while riding his motorcycle on Squilax-Anglemont Road

Super blood wolf moon fills Okanagan skies, to photographers’ delight

Photographers had a rare chance Sunday to capture a rare lunar eclipse

Video: Snow Pitch Tournament a home run

Teams competed for softball supremacy on the snow-covered Finlayson Park ball diamonds

UPDATE: Vernon serial arsonist sentencing delayed

The sentencing hearing for William Munton contiunes at 2 p.m. Friday in Vernon Supreme Court

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Former Kelowna city manager downplays possible Costco move

Ron Mattiussi says if store leaves for Westside, another big box retailer will likely take the site

Most Read