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

Strong support for Pitt Meadows transporation projects

Overpass/underpass projects get majority support

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead in Maple Ridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Ridge Meadows Hospital parking is still pay, but streets free

Surrey has removed meters on streets, asking Fraser Health for free parking at the hospital

Letter: ‘Wait times solution not what you think’

Canada’s health care policies haven’t changed since 1984.

OUTLOOK: Downtown Maple Ridge towers on tap

Changing Maple Ridge’s skyline.

UPDATE: IHIT confirms identity of Hells Angels homicide victim

Chad John Wilson was one of four men arrested in Spain in 2013 on allegations of smuggling cocaine.

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

B.C. woman allegedly threatens to rip out intestines of American man

A Kamloops-area woman is accused of harassing and threatening to disembowel an American man

B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry, ride-hailing group says

Ridesharing Now for BC says it had hoped the bill would be more customer-driven like in other cities

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Art Studio Tour call for artists

Deadline for applications is Dec. 1

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, bloody B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

Most Read