AJHL Canucks drop opening game of Centennial Cup

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Two goals two minutes apart late in third period by the Collingwood Blues kept the Calgary Canucks from winning their opening game Thursday at the 2024 Centennial Cup.

Dylan Hudon scored with just 3:23 left in regulation after teammate Spencer Young tied it at the 14:31 mark to pull out the game for the top-ranked team in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

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That meant disappointment right out of the gate for the unranked — but game — Canucks at the 10-team tournament to decide the national Junior A champions in Oakville, Ont.

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“The result wasn’t due to lack of effort,” said Canucks GM/head coach Brad Moran. “I think we had some guys try too hard to do a little too much instead allowing the game to develop on its own.”

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The Ontario-champion Blues got off to a 2-1 start in the first period, with Julien Gervais scoring a power-play goal late for the Canucks.

The Alberta Junior Hockey League kings then got the man-advantage going again in the second period, with Cody Pisarczyk scoring early in the frame and Gervais counting — again — midway through the game.

Cameron Eke then replied for the Blues on the power play five minutes later, and the teams took a 3-3 draw to the third period.

In the final frame, Gervais completed the hat-trick to put the Canucks up 114 seconds in.

But the two goals later in the period turned the result in favour of the Blues.

“There’s a few things to clean up that we know we can,” added Moran. “Shake the rust off now, and we will be good to go. Some mistakes we know we can clean up going forward now that the nerves are out.”

The Canucks continue round-robin action in Group A play Saturday against the Collège Français de Longueuil of the Quebec Junior Hockey League (2 p.m., HockeyCanada.ca).

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