brucen

Feb 022017
 

Bo Horvat started this season as the 3rd line centre behind Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter. Despite ranking 5th in TOI/GP for forwards this season, and with very little time on the power play, Horvat is leading the team this season in goals and points. He has been a professional through everything this season – good or bad. Horvat  represented the Canucks at the NHL All-Star Game, and he did not look out of place, showing off his speed against Patrik Laine, and scoring 2 goals in the 3-on-3 tournament.

Nikita Tryamkin started this season in the press box. He refused a demotion to Utica, instead choosing to stay in Vancouver. Due to all the injuries on the blue line, Tryamkin finally drew into the lineup on November 3. He hasn’t relinquished his spot in the lineup since, ranking 4th on the team in plus/minus, and leads the team in penalty minutes. At 6’7″ and 265 lbs, Tryamkin’s size got him to the NHL, but he has shown surprising mobility for a big defenceman.

Everyone loves an underdog, and Richmond’s Troy Stecher fits the bill perfectly. Undrafted and undersized for a defenseman, Stecher had a great pre-season, but was sent down to Utica to start the year. Since he got the call to return to the Canucks, he has excited the fanbase with his play. He can rush the puck with his speed and leads all Canucks defensemen in shots on goal and points.

In 2014-15, Luca Sbisa was everyone’s favourite scapegoat. In 2015-16, injuries kept him out of the lineup for half of the season. Finally this year, Sbisa is getting a chance to consistently show why the Canucks signed him to an extension through 2017-18. He looks far more comfortable on defense, making solid contact to gain possession of the puck and make a good first pass out of the zone. He has stayed healthy, and leads the team in plus/minus and hits. Solid.

Markus Granlund came to Vancouver via a trade with Calgary for Hunter Shinkaruk. There were a lot of armchair GM’s out there that called for Jim Benning’s head, but at this point in time, the Canucks are the clear winner of that deal. On Brandon Sutter’s left wing, Granlund has provided the Canucks with some much needed secondary scoring, playing in every game and potting 12 goals so far. Shinkaruk on the other hand has spent most of his season in the AHL. He has played 7 games for the Flames and has 1 assist.

 Posted by at 7:19 am
Jan 082017
 

In 2009, I received The Gingerbread Architect as a gift. It’s a great book, and it comes with recipes and ingredients for 12 different gingerbread masterpieces. Since then I’ve made a number of gingerbread houses, including 2011’s Urban Brownstone, and the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in 2012.

stewart-farmhouseThis year, for the second time, I decided to make my own designs for a house. My inspiration came from a real heritage building, right here in Surrey.

The Farmhouse at Stewart Farm was built in 1894 by John and Annie Stewart. The house has that Victorian style and features a veranda and bay windows at the front and side of the house. It is a picturesque site, and one of the most photographed landmarks in Surrey because of it’s romantic old world charm.

Thank you to everyone who follows along every year. While there are some late nights in December, it’s always fun to create something that people enjoy!

 Posted by at 7:10 am
Oct 112016
 

tryamkin

As the success of the Canucks comes and goes, so do the fans. For the casual fan that’s still on board, you may not recognize the team, and for good reason. Initially billed as a retooling, this is a full rebuild. Remember the 2011 run to the Stanley Cup final? Only 6 of those Canucks are still around: Alexandre Burrows, Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, Chris Tanev, and Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

This will be the second year in a row that there is no goaltending controversy. Miller is the starting goalie and Markstrom is a backup that is more than capable. What’s more is that the plan for the future is clear: Markstrom may be the starter next year but the future is Thatcher Demko.

On defence, Edler and Tanev now make up the Canucks shutdown top pairing. Both can move the puck, and both are solid in their own end. The Canucks added size and toughness on defence by acquiring big defenceman Erik Gudbranson from Florida for Jared McCann which solidifies the second pairing behind the shutdown top pair of Edler and Tanev. Gudbranson is a former 3rd overall pick from the 2010 draft, and he’s a big, right shot, stay-at-home type. His style should make a good fit with the freewheeling left shot of Ben Hutton. Luca Sbisa should be a lock as the fifth defenceman, but the sixth man spot is anyone’s guess. The Canucks know what they have with Alex Biega, but also love the raw potential of Nikita Tryamkin, who is 6’7″ and 228 pounds.

The Sedins are destined to retire as Canucks. Hansen and Burrows are the other forwards that remain from the 2011 run to the final. They are both versatile, both can still skate, both can play up and down the lineup, and in any situation.

The Canucks lost Radim Vrbata during free agency, but the twins received scoring help in the form of Loui Eriksson. The hope is that with a healthy Brandon Sutter the Sedins will get some second line scoring support, leaving Bo Horvat to continue his development on the third line, along with linemates Sven Baertchi and Jake Virtanen. The 4th line would feature Mikael Granlund and Derek Dorsett. Emerson Etem has not had a great training camp, and after a standout MVP season in Swedish Hockey League, Anton Rodin could also make the roster.

 Posted by at 6:22 am
Oct 292015
 

rookies

A coworker asked me today if this will be a good year for the Canucks. I didn’t have a simple answer for him.

ERMAGERD ALL THE EMOTIONS

Predicting this year’s Canucks is akin to predicting the behavior of children. As a parent, sometimes you’re shocked at your kid’s actions. Sometimes, you swell with pride. And other times you are moved to tears. But most of the time you’re just hanging on for dear life as it is a hundred mile-an-hour whirlwind of all the emotions.

With the infusion of youth on the Canucks roster, we’re going to bear witness to some horrible mistakes, and some brilliant displays of hockey. There will be nights where you will be soul searching, questioning your fan status, and there will be nights that make you glad you didn’t jump off the bandwagon.

There have been a number of rookies that have come and gone in the Canucks short history. There have been only a few Canucks campaigns that have had memorable rookie seasons, and even fewer that featured more than one or two rookies at a time. This season’s version of the team features sniper Jared McCann, speedy defenceman Ben Hutton, and local talent Jake Virtanen, all of whom are entering their first NHL season. Add sophomore Bo Horvat. Young prospect Sven Baertchi. Add recent call-up Brendan Gaunce. Even Luca Sbisa was born in 1990 (yes, younger than Chris Tanev).

Player      Position    Birth Date  Age      
Jake Virtanen RW August 17, 1996 19
Jared McCann C May 31, 1996 19
Bo Horvat C April 5, 1995 20
Brendan Gaunce C March 25, 1994 21
Ben Hutton D April 20, 1993 22
Sven Baertschi LW October 5, 1992 23
Luca Sbisa D January 30, 1990 25

All of a sudden that tired old Canucks team is full of young players and a couple actual teenagers, complete with erratic behavior that will give the most die-hard fan a few more grey hairs.

If you can be patient, sometimes that youthful exuberance will surprise you and make you glad you were there to see it. First seasons. First goals. First home ice wins.

First cup? There’s a first time for everything.

 Posted by at 6:29 am
Jul 292015
 

champs
The 2015 White Rock U9 Tadpole All-Stars won the Andrews Invitational championship, going a perfect 15-0 in tournament play this summer. For these kids, this is the first season where they pitch to batters, and hit from other pitchers.

Andrews Invitational Tournament Recap

Game 1 featured great hitting throughout the lineup and some solid defense. Vasya Seymour got things started with a triple in the 1st inning, scoring lead off hitter Matthew Ng, while speedster Max Ross busted out of a slump going 2-for-2. The play of the game was a highlight reel sno-cone catch by Ben Friedel in right field, who then threw out a runner at 2nd for a double play, earning him Game MVP honours. In games 2 and 3, White Rock kept the bats going and ground out a couple sloppy wins, taking both games 22-11 and earning a spot in the semi-final.

In the semi-final game, White Rock allowed 3 runs in the top of the 1st inning, but roared back to score 4 in the bottom, and kept the bats going on their way to a 15-4 win. Ben McKinnon went 2 for 3, with 3 RBI in the game. Sam Persaud had one heck of a 5th inning, tracking a long fly into foul ground at left field in the top half, then picking up 2 RBI with a clutch base hit that ended the game in the bottom half, earning his team a spot in the tournament final.

White Rock prevailed 3-2 over Ladner in a tight final game, which featured the return of great team pitching, and some remarkable team defensive play. Briggham Kokotailo set the tone for the pitchers, striking out the Ladner side in the top of the 1st. Vasya Seymour went 2-for-2, scoring once, and also pitched a scoreless inning. Ben McKinnon struck out one, and walked the bases loaded. Just when it looked like Ladner would get on the board, Ben Pulfer snagged a hard line drive at 2B, then flipped the ball to 1st for a smart double-play to end the threat. Pulfer also pitched a scoreless inning to earn himself Game MVP honours. Zak Burden and Sam Persaud each pitched a solid inning, allowing 1 run each.

The Boys of Summer – I never will forget those nights / I wonder if it was a dream

Personally, the last 5 weeks have been a blur. Many times I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be at work the next morning or at the ball park. The team played a total of 26 games, and practiced on most of the other nights. Some personal highlights of the season for me:

  • The dedication of all of the families to the team. One of our practices was scheduled for the Monday after a tournament; the coaches decided to call it “optional”. Every single player showed up. It turned out to be a 3 hour long batting practice session, with many of the dads shagging fly balls and grounders, trying to show the kids “how it’s done”.
  • The willingness of siblings to help. All of the players have siblings, but 3 in particular – Evan Ng, Liz Kokotailo, and Madelyn McKinnon went above and beyond. I half expected to hear Evan wailing about being boredddddd, but instead he took on the role of team scorekeeper and statistician. He might be halfway to a degree in sabermetrics. After Coach Randy was on the injured reserve, Liz and Madelyn helped to keep the practices and pregame warmups going with their live arms.
  • There is crying in baseball. And it usually occurs when kids don’t get on base. The hilarious part of it is that all the kids were really good at getting on base. In those moments when the tears flowed, the kids were so good to each other, picking their teammates up when they were feeling down, and helping each other get back on the field and play their best.

It has been one heck of a season for all of us. As I write this, there is a hole in my heart that is roughly the size of a baseball. I’ve received emails and texts from the other coaches already, talking about being bored, and of course, watching baseball. Because after coaching baseball for 30 straight days, you take a break from that by watching more ball.

Thanks to everyone involved for all the wonderful memories. Here’s to many more hazy summers filled with baseball dreams.

 Posted by at 10:26 pm
Jul 152015
 

team
Last weekend, the White Rock U9 Tadpole All-Stars played in the Rupert Reed Invitational Tournament in Ridge Meadows. The boys went undefeated, posting a 5-0 record on their way to the tournament championship.

trophy

White Rock U9 All-Stars victory lap with the championship trophy

At this age group, pitchers are only allowed to pitch one inning per game. A deep pitching rotation and solid bullpen are the hallmarks of this team, as 6 White Rock pitchers combined to pitch 2 no-hitters in a row. In the last game of the tournament, the boys defeated the Ladner Red Sox 9-5 in an exciting final. Early in the game, the top of the order delivered 4 runs in the top of the 1st inning for White Rock. In the bottom of the 1st, Zak Burden made a solid defensive play at 2nd to preserve the lead.

Later in the top of the 4th inning while nursing a 5-4 lead, White Rock broke the game wide open on a clutch 2 RBI double by Austin Hexter, who drove in what turned out to be the game winning runs.

Many of these boys are still 8 years old, but are displaying some great baseball smarts. Throughout the tournament, the boys displayed a combination of patience and power at the plate, and showed flashes of smart and aggressive base running.

So far this summer season, the boys have gone 10-0 in tournament play. Their last tournament of the summer season will from July 26 to 29, in Cloverdale.

Ben Friedel swings at a pitch in the top of the 1st

Ben Friedel swings at a pitch in the top of the 1st

 Posted by at 6:15 am
Jul 062015
 

9U_Lineup_resized

This weekend the White Rock Tadpole U9 All-Stars went undefeated on their way to the championship at the Diane Cook Tournament in Newton. These boys pitched for the first time in a game this week, and did very well for themselves, playing some great baseball.

Some of the highlights included some excellent shut-down pitching from Ben McKinnon throughout the tournament, stellar defensive plays from Vasya Seymour, and consistent hitting from Matthew Ng.

9U_Medals_NewtonTourney_resized

The tournament champions with their medals!

The final game against the Cloverdale White Spurs was a back and forth affair, with numerous lead changes in the first 4 innings. The highlight of the final game was a 2 run double to left center from Briggham Kokotailo in the bottom of the 4th, who earned Game MVP honours in the final with those clutch RBIs. White Rock shut down Cloverdale the rest of the way to earn the championship.

With offensive and defensive contributions from every single player in the lineup, it really was a great team effort. The boys played great baseball not just for their age, but any age. Moreover, they are picking each other up, and being excellent teammates. Lots more great baseball is in store for these boys of summer.

The team’s next tournament will be in Ridge Meadows, and they will finish the season with a final tournament in Cloverdale.

 Posted by at 5:45 am
Apr 262015
 

horvat

Much has been said about the Canucks bandwagon, and the legions of fans that have broken ankles jumping off and on. Let’s not forget the debacle that was last season. Remember that prior to this season, the Canucks main objective was to make it back to the playoffs. Many Canucks fans jumped off the bandwagon throughout last year. Many of us that stayed on the wagon felt that the playoffs were unlikely.

In that regard, the Canucks season was a success. They put up 101 points this season finishing 2nd in the Pacific Division, and while expectations were raised, they were not realistic.

I’ll leave the heavy duty analysis to the hockey experts that have played the game and analyzed the game at a high level.

I am merely a fan.

My love affair with this team goes back for decades. What I’ve always loved about this team through the 80s and 90s was that they always worked hard.

Linden set the standard for hard work with one shift, and I think of that shift as a mission statement for this club:

With respect to the love affair, the Canucks are like that grade school crush. That girl (or boy) that was so cute in September when you first laid eyes on her. Every day you saw her in class, and your feelings grew. You sat next to her, talked to her, and as the school year went on, your feelings grew stronger. Then, all of a sudden late in the spring, class dismissed, and your heart was broken.

As summer came and went, you went about to other things – summer camps, baseball, and days at the beach.

Then, there she was next September, and the love affair begins again.

 Posted by at 5:17 am
Jan 132015
 

canucks_jan_8_2015-0334

On January 8, 2015 the Vancouver Canucks hosted a Social Suite Night for 30 local bloggers, twitterati, social media personalities, and fans. At Canucks Corner, we ran a contest on Twitter, and drew Michelle Chopin (@michellechopin)  as our guest for the Social Suite Night. Congratulations Michelle!

canucks_jan_8_2015-0591

Canucks Corner contest winner Michelle Chopin enjoying the Canucks Social Suite Night

The Canucks lost to Roberto Luongo and his new/old team last Thursday. As predicted, there was a lot of love for the Canucks #1 goalie for 8 years, and a video tribute was followed by a lengthy standing ovation. Luongo looked emotional as he saluted the crowd; he then went on to shut the door on the Canucks, who ended up losing the game 3-1. The Luus turned to boos, as the Canucks were barely able to muster more than a couple shots during nearly 4 1/2 minutes of consecutive power play time.

Despite the result of the game, good times were had. The suite had a visit from Fin, and Canucks Ring of Honour inductee Kirk McLean. The Vancouver Canucks social media team is second to none in the NHL, perhaps in all of pro sports.

On behalf of Canucks Corner, I’d like to thank the Vancouver Canucks, and their partner for the night the Save On Foods Fan Zone for putting on such a great event! If you get a chance, sign up for the Fan Zone for chances to win some amazing Canucks Experiences and merchandise.

 Posted by at 7:55 am
Jan 082015
 

luongo

Will fans boo? Or will they Luuu? January 8, 2015 marks the return of Roberto Luongo to Rogers Arena, his first game back as an opponent after 8 seasons as the usual starting goaltender in a Canucks uniform. 

Usual starting goaltender.

The exceptions being when he was demoted to backup behind Cory Schneider, and when he was demoted to backup behind Eddie Lack. When you look back, it sounds ridiculous.

Luongo is now enjoying life in Florida as a member of the Panthers, as far away from the harsh and glaring spotlight of the Vancouver hockey market as you can be. He looked relaxed in the presser earlier this week, and why not? The Panthers have a good mix of youth and veteran presence, and have been winning hockey games, back stopped by Luongo who has played well statistically with a .924 save percentage and 2.28 goals against average, good enough for top 10 in both categories.

It is not without a touch of irony that Luongo is statistically better than Cory Schneider, Eddie Lack and even Ryan Miller at this point in the season.

Expectations have been lowered for this team – gone is the talk of the Stanley Cup Finals, instead replaced with the hope of just getting into the post-season.

The saying goes that familiarity breeds comtempt, and that held true for Vancouver’s love affair with Luongo – after many seasons of high expectations, Stanley Cup aspirations, and playoff disappointments, coaches and management fell out of love with Luongo, and in turn Luongo fell out of love with Vancouver.

Another adage says that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes when you see that old love, having fun in another place with other people, it makes you think of what could have been. If only we had tried harder, maybe we could have made things work.

 Posted by at 5:48 am