Archive for the ‘Vancouver Canucks’ Category

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Daily Hive Vancouver for my feature on Vancouver Canucks winger, Darren Archibald.

NHL: MAR 09 Wild at Canucks


Brielle Bellerive

UBC Thunderbirds forward, Brielle Bellerive on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds season continues tonight as they take on the Calgary Dinos in Canada West action. UBC opened the campaign with a 5-4 loss, and a 4-1 win over the Manitoba Bisons last weekend. The Thunderbirds will be looking for more consistency, chemistry, and a quick start from the opening whistle against Calgary.

There’s always going to be an adjustment period with the addition of seven new players. Moving players around who can fit into specific roles on the team isn’t going to be solved overnight. Coach Graham Thomas, and his staff are working to make sure players are in the best position possible to be able to contribute to the team.

One of the newest Thunderbirds is, Brielle Bellerive. The North Vancouver native, is in her first season with UBC after transferring over from Clarkson University. After playing three seasons in the NCAA, Bellerive was looking for a fresh new environment, and she knew that UBC could offer that.

“I was just really losing the love for the game,” Bellerive admitted. “It wasn’t the best environment for me there. This was such a great opportunity for me. I’d played under Dom (Assistant Coach, Dom DiRocco) and Graham (Coach Thomas) already. It’s nice to be at home, I haven’t lived at home in six years.”

What type of player do the UBC Thunderbirds have in Brielle Bellerive?

“I think a two-way forward, a bit of a power forward,” said Bellerive. “I’m still finding myself. New team, new role.”

The Thunderbirds will be hoping that Bellerive can thrive while playing in her own backyard. She’s still waiting for her first UBC goal, but she’s already picked up a pair of assists. While her on ice role is still to be determined, Coach Thomas sees a terrific hockey player with a speed, skill, size, and a strong work ethic.

“She’s a humble kid,” revealed Thomas. “I think the indications show in the first part of the year, she’s going to be a player that can play in any role. We use her in PK (penalty killing) already, lots, but also on the power play. Kind of being well-rounded and can play defence and offence. She has a great shot. She has the potential to score.”


UBC Thunderbirds forward, Brielle Bellerive. Photo Credit: Rich Lam, UBC Athletics.

Bellerive comes from a family that has always loved playing hockey.

“I have two brothers that play,” Bellerive said. “I wanted to take after them, seeing as it was such a family sport. I’ve always played forward, and it’s definitely competitive in my family, we’re all forwards. Growing up, we always wanted to do better than each other, while supporting each other.”

Younger brother Jordan Bellerive signed a three-year-entry level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins in September. He attended training camp, and is now in his third season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL. Older brother Matt Bellerive, played for the Vancouver Giants, Red Deer Rebels, Kamloops Blazers, and Mount Royal University.

UBC has no shortage of talented hockey players, it’s more about putting puzzle pieces together, and finding the right combination to get the best out of everyone. Bellerive is going to play a big part in helping the Thunderbirds find success this season.

“She’s a great kid, very humble,” said Coach Thomas. “Works extremely hard, very quiet. Hard to get much out of her. She’s going to be a big presence for us. She competes hard too.”

It’s not easy to find a two-way player that’s defensively responsible, and can pile up the points on offence. When Bellerive and her teammates start clicking, UBC will have another dangerous contributor. Canada West opponents will have another challenge to deal with in shutting down the UBC Thunderbirds.


VANCOUVER, B.C – The Vancouver Canucks season opening home-stand continues tonight as they take on the Winnipeg Jets. The 1-0-1 Canucks will be looking to play more of a physical style against the Jets. Coach Travis Green wants to see his team compete with a higher intensity level, more puck possession, and less softness from his players.

“I thought our intensity level was a little bit lower than the game against Edmonton,” admitted Green. “It wasn’t like we played a terrible hockey game. We’ve got three out of four points in these two games. It’s not a terrible start. I thought our play was a little bit softer than the first game. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Inquiring minds jumped on Green’s comments when he spoke following Wednesday’s practice at UBC. Are the Canucks too soft, do they have the players required to play physical hockey?

“I didn’t say that we were soft physically,” Green, said. “I don’t think we have an overbearingly physical team. Anyone that watches hockey, and knows our team, probably knows that.”

Thomas Vanek is in his first season with the Canucks, and the Austrian winger finds himself playing on the top line with Daniel, and Henrik Sedin. Vanek netted his first goal as a Canuck on Tuesday vs Ottawa. He admits that it will take time to form a team bond.

“I’m new, and there’s a lot of new guys,” Vanek said. “We’re still trying to find our identity and what our game is. Obviously it wasn’t our best one, but still got a point out of it.”

Vanek and the Sedins aren’t going to go out and start throwing thunderous body checks anytime soon. That’s not their style of play, and not what they contribute. As a top line, you want them to have possession in the offensive zone, while creating, and scoring goals. Vanek points out that physical hockey isn’t always about one main statistic.

“I think physical is not just going out there and hitting guys,” Vanek said. “I think physical is having a good stick, taking good angles on guys, and playing a frustrating game.”

It doesn’t take much for Canucks fans to get riled up. Vanek’s hustle, hunger, and intensity has already been questioned. Is he too slow, why doesn’t he bring a maximum effort each game. Vanek committed an unnecessary slashing penalty taking the Canucks off the power play in the first period vs Ottawa.

“Yeah, I don’t think the penalty was much,” Vanek said. “I think I tapped his stick, and I guess that’s a penalty now.”

Henrik is enjoying having Vanek as a line-mate, and he expects chemistry to form as they continue to get familiar with each other. Vanek and the Sedins are terrific in the corners, fantastic passers, and they know how to score from all attacking areas.

“He’s strong, he’s really strong on pucks,” revealed Henrik Sedin. “When he gets the puck, he gives us time to move into areas. We might not be the fastest line on the ice, I think we’ve started good so far. We need to get our power play going, but 5 on 5, its felt good.”

The 33 year-old, is with his 7th NHL organization and he’s played with exceptional hockey players at all of his stops. He knows what it takes to get an offence, and power play going. Vanek admits that there is much more that he can do.

“I mean, it’s early,” said Vanek. “Playing with Hank and Danny, I think we’re getting closer. I think we’re starting to read off each other better, but there’s obviously a lot more to give.”

The Canucks are not built to run teams out of Rogers Arena. They have team toughness, but they won’t be among the league leaders in hits. Moving the puck forward, catching teams on transition, and dominating on special teams is how the Canucks can counter not having a physical team. Games won’t be won on paper.

“Right, exactly,” Vanek agreed. “You can’t look at predictions, I mean obviously you have your four or five teams who are probably better than most teams, but then I think there’s a group of twenty to twenty-five teams who are similar. Like I said, we’re searching for our identity. We feel like we can frustrate teams on most nights, and be in the game.”

The Vancouver Canucks are going to have to grind, and claw their way to a win on most nights. They have skilful, exciting players, and that’s what you can expect to see. As long as they play together as a team, and stick up for each other, you can’t say they’re soft.


Vancouver Canucks Centre, Griffen Molino at the Canucks Development Camp on Thursday, July 6.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The Vancouver Canucks are loaded with talent down the middle. The centre-ice position looks to be a positive strength for the organization heading into next season. Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat, and Brandon Sutter have some new company with free agent acquisitions Sam Gagner, and Alexander Burmistrov. Griffen Molino is another name to watch. The 23 year-old will do his best to make the Canucks opening day roster.

The Trenton, Michigan native, played in five games for the Canucks last season. He made his debut on March 31, vs Los Angeles. It was a whirlwind experience playing in the NHL, and something he wants to continue on a full-time basis.

“It was incredible,” said Molino, following an on ice session at the Canucks Development camp this week. “It was a lot to take in over a short period of time. Honestly, it was a great experience, and everything about it was fantastic. I had a great time. It was super humbling being able to play five games with the Canucks at the end of the year.”

Molino has had a unique experience on his journey to the NHL. He was never drafted, and instead worked his way up to where he is now. He wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot anywhere. His name wasn’t falling out of the mouths of NHL scouts. He simply buckled down, got to work, and successfully made an effort to continue up the ranks. It was at Western Michigan University where he started to attract more and more attention.

“Definitely one of the most uncommon ones,” said Molino of his journey to the NHL. “I think. Every place I played, I picked up something different, and something that helped me along the way. I don’t think I would have done it any differently If I had the choice. I played one-year, Junior A in Brockville, Ontario, made my transition to the USHL, played in Sioux Fall for a year, got traded to Muskegon, had a phenomenal year. I played two-years at Western Michigan University, and learned a lot under head coach, Andy Murray. I was able to take my game, and translate it into a professional game, and I’m really grateful for that.”

Why did Molino decide to sign with Vancouver?

“I had a relationship with the Canucks for a long time,” revealed Molino. “I like the way things are done here. I think that there’s a good young, core group of players taking this team in the right direction, and I’d love to be a part of that. Aside from that, it’s an unbelievable, historic franchise in a great part of the country. All the pieces fit, and it felt like the right decision. All those things coming together, culminated in my decision.”

The 6-foot, and 185 pound, Molino is a terrific skater with a lot of pace. He knows he has the kind of high hockey IQ required to be an everyday NHL player. Being able to fit into different niches could help his versatility if the Canucks decide to use him on the wing.

September training camp isn’t too far off in the distance. Competition for roster spots will be that much tougher with Gagner, and Burmistrov in the fold. Molino isn’t ready to have his bubble burst, and will be ready to show what he can do at an NHL level.

“There’s a lot of players fighting for a few spots,” said Molino. “I think it’ll just be the little details that define who’s playing, and who’s not. Obviously, those are some great established players in the league. If I’m going to get a shot, it’s going to be a challenge, but one I’m excited for. One I’m looking forward to for sure. I’m still pushing to make it.”

If the time comes for him to hone his skills with the Utica Comets in the AHL. Yes, he’d be willing to do that, but make no bones about it, he wants to stay in the NHL. In the AHL he would get a regular shift, and avoid bouncing around the Canucks press box between games. Comets coach, Trent Cull could be the guy to help Molino improve his game further.

“I don’t want to say comfortable,” said Molino. “I wouldn’t be upset, put it that way. I know I still have a lot to learn in my game, and I know I’m still developing. Maybe sometime in Utica wouldn’t be a bad thing, but in my head, I want to push to make that team, and challenge myself to be an NHLer. If I need to spend some time in Utica, that’s the way it goes, and I’ll be happy wherever I’m at, but I’m going to try to make that team.”

You can never have enough centres on your depth chart. A vital position like that, requires players of all skill levels, and abilities. Griffen Molino is hoping to make his mark, and prove that his five game audition last season was just the start of things to come.

VANCOUVER, B.C – It all starts with building from the net out, and the Vancouver Canucks are setting themselves up for terrific goaltending stability for years to come. The selection of Windsor Spitfires goalkeeper, Michael DiPietro shows that the organization is determined to have a solid future one-two punch with, Thatcher Demko, and DiPietro.

Selected 64th overall in third round of this years NHL draft, DiPietro had a somewhat of an inkling that Vancouver might be the team to call his name at the United Center in Chicago.

“I met with them at the combine,” said DiPietro following Canucks Development camp on Tuesday. “I thought the interview went really really well. I really didn’t think a lot of it. Going into that day, I wanted to keep an open mind. I didn’t hear my name called on the first day, so we came back he second day. I couldn’t go to a better organization, I’m happy to be here.”

The Amherstburg, Ontario native, saw his stock climb after helping the Windsor Spitfires win the 2017 Memorial Cup. The 18 year-old, was a brick wall in net for the hosts. Many fans, scouts, and pundits had him rated as the top goaltender heading into the draft.

“I think it definitely helped my stock in more ways than one,” said DiPietro of the Memorial Cup win. “It shows that I can perform under pressure. Especially being relatively young, and especially being from the area also. I think I showed people that no matter what my size is, I think I can play out there, get the job done, night in, and night out. I’m very happy to be here.”

Having a goaltender that has beaten the odds, and shown that he can compete no matter what the circumstances, is exactly the kind of player, and character athlete every team needs. Listed at 6-foot, and 200 pounds, DiPietro isn’t going to wow you with his frame. He has his fair share of doubters, and he has no problem waving his glove-hand at them.

“I think I’m a hybrid,” revealed DiPietro. “Like you said, I’m a battler. I use my athleticism, my flexibility to get across. My ability to read a play, I think has got better. My instincts are what keeps me afloat sometimes. ‘Grade A scoring chance’, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to stop the puck, and not let that little black thing go over the line.”

Growing up a stones throw away from Detroit, DiPietro was an avid Red Wings fan during his youth years. While watching the Wings Stanley Cup victories, he cheered for Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom, Chris Osgood, and Dominik Hašek. He models his game after a Los Angeles Kings puck-stopper that Canucks fans know all too well.

“I look up to Jonathan Quick,” said DiPietro. “The way he battles, my game is quite similar to his. Just the way we use our flexibility. We’re not six-foot, five, out there, but we can play like we’re six-foot, five out there. We get the proper points in the crease, and good spots. He’s definitely a goalie that I look up to, especially with Stanley Cup rings on his finger.”

DiPietro is likely headed back to Windsor for a couple of more seasons in the OHL He wants to improve his technical side, and put his best skate forward. He won’t make it easy for the Canucks to send him back to junior. If he can keep developing as a goaltender, he could be part of a successful tandem with 21 year-old, Thatcher Demko.

“That’d be awesome, to see my name next to Thatcher’s,” said an enthusiastic DiPietro. “He’s a great goaltender. To be mentioned like that, especially playing for Vancouver. I think that’s a goal of mine, I think it’s any kids goal to make it to the NHL.”

In the ever evolving NHL, you need two competitive goalies who have a healthy compete level with each other. Michael DiPietro could very well be a diamond in the crease that could be the next great Vancouver Canucks goalie.


Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Nazem Kadri following practice at Father Bauer Arena at UBC on December 2.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Nazem Kadri following practice at Father Bauer Arena at UBC on Friday December 2.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs will play one of the most hotly contested and amped up games in recent Canucks memory. It’s been a dire season for the Canucks, and seeing the Leafs thrive with rookies Auston Mathews and Mitch Marner has left a sour taste with Vancouver hockey fans. When you add in the donnybrook and after the whistle extracurriculars during the Canucks November 5 visit to Toronto. The temperature has been turned up a dial as both teams will hit the ice at Rogers Arena for a game that could have some scores to settle.

Nazem Kadri delivered a questionable hit on Daniel Sedin in the third period with Toronto leading 5-2. Moments earlier, Jannik Hansen was rocked by West Vancouver, and Leafs defender, Morgan Rielly. Matt Martin took liberties into his own hands by going after Canucks rookie, Troy Stecher. Ryan Miller intervened to protect him, and thus ensued another massive kerfuffle.

Fans, media, and pundits across Canada have had Saturday, December 3 circled on their calendar. If you are expecting a line-brawl, and plenty of fisticuffs you could be sorely disappointed. Super pest, Nazem Kadri, was a thorn in the side of the Sedins, and has since made himself known to Edmonton Oilers centre, Connor McDavid.

Kadri could have a target on his back tomorrow, but he wasn’t worried when he held court with the media on Friday.

“I mean, I’ll always prepare,” said Kadri. “I’m not the only guy out there, I have my teammates to help protect me. Like I said, we’re going to be all in it together. Two points is much more important than any revenge in this league and I think both teams are well aware of it.”

The Leafs are focused on picking up two points after dropping a 3-0 decision to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. Martin might draw the ire of Erik Gudbranson, Alex Burrows, and Ryan Miller, but he won’t be looking for any opposition trouble. NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Stéphane Quintal will be in attendance keeping an eye on things.

Martin knows that emotions are still high, and keeping those in check will be the key to getting a big win.

“I’m sure the league will be paying attention to what’s going on tomorrow,” said Martin. “Like I said, games get emotional some times. It was obviously the most emotional game for us of the season. That game is done and over, tomorrow’s a new game. Will approach that one just like any other one.”

If Gudbranson decides to challenge Martin to an early first period fight, that could put to bed any potential trouble. Getting any possible ruckus out of the game early could be the key to letting the game settle into a back and forth contest. If a questionable hit is delivered by either team, or the Leafs, or perhaps the Canucks turn on the red light with regularity. You never know what could transpire on the ice.

The Canucks are also focused on two points, and that includes the vocal Gudbranson.

“We’re going out to win two points,” admitted Gudbranson.” That’s the best way to hurt them and always will be. It was a tough building to play in when we played there. We want to bring that same toughness in our building, and show our fans that we didn’t forget about that night, and bring back two huge points.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs held practice at Father Bauer Arena at UBC on Friday December 1.

The Toronto Maple Leafs held practice at Father Bauer Arena at UBC on Friday December 1.

Kadri vows not to change the style of play that has worked for him. He’ll be likely shadowing the Sedins, closely checking them in the corners, and leaving them no time and space. Kadri has respect for the Sedins and all that they’ve accomplished in the NHL. However, that doesn’t change his opinion on the blind-side hit he delivered to Daniel Sedin.

“Like I said, I don’t want to revisit this too much,” admitted Kadri. “Obviously I want to finish my check, and I’m happy the league saw it the same way. By no means do I want to see anybody hurt out there. I know he’s a very valuable player to their team. He’s been in the league for a lot of years, so I respect him a ton.”

Matt Martin has become a fan favourite in his first season with the Maple Leafs. He hits hard, sticks up for his teammates, and plays a solid grinder, and enforcer like role. That’s what you need with a young roster featuring phenom Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.

Martin again downplayed the matchup with the Canucks as a possible vengeful encounter.

“I don’t really hype it up too much,” revealed Martin. “I think that’s for you guys to do and for fans to get involved with. For me, it’s just a new game. It will run it’s course the way it’s played. Will be ready for it, I guess. Like I said, we’re focused on trying to get a win.”

Whichever team can stay out of the box, capitalize on power plays, and play a strong north and south game will come away with the win. We all know that, but it’s important to note, will both teams actually stick to that game plan? Emotions have been boiling. Vancouver isn’t a Stanley Cup contender, and this will be the biggest game of the season.

Toronto will feel the love as hundreds of fans fill Rogers Arena in blue and white Leafs gear. Finishing a current west coast road trip with a wining record is what Martin would most like to see. It all comes down to the usual two points.

“Yeah, I think tomorrow will be important to keep your emotions in check,” said Martin. “Like I said, two points is the most important thing.”

Toronto goalie, Frederik Andersen missed Friday’s practice with the flu. He will start in net on Saturday. The Canucks will counter with Ryan Miller. Former Canucks defenseman, Frank Corrado will be a healthy scratch for Toronto.

UBC Thunderbirds goaltender, Danielle Wierenga at the Canucks on Campus fundraiser on Saturday, November 12. Photo Credit - Ben Nelms.

UBC Thunderbirds goaltender, Danielle Wierenga at the Canucks on Campus fundraiser event on Saturday, November 12. Photo Credit – Ben Nelms.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The Canucks on Campus fundraising event was a massive success for the UBC Men’s and Women’s hockey teams. A total of $26,917 was raised to help both hockey programs. The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre was packed with hockey enthusiasts watching the Canucks in a special open practice. Although the Canucks have struggled this season, you wouldn’t know it by all the smiles and happy children in attendance.

UBC is often a landing spot for Canucks practices during the season, when Rogers Arena is unavailable. It’s not a surprise to see the Canucks using the university ice to get in an important practice before a big game. Canucks captain, Henrik Sedin is always appreciative of the support from the UBC community.

“It’s great, we’ve always had a close connection with these guys. From the lockout, we were able to practice with them. They’ve always been there for us, so it’s great to be able to do this for them.”

Vancouver Canucks goalie, Ryan Miller, helped the Canucks defeat the Dallas Stars in a thrilling 5-4 overtime win on Sunday afternoon. Miller knows that not all Canucks fans are able to make the journey downtown to see the Canucks in action.

“We use this facility a fair amount,” admitted Miller. “It’s good for us to come interact a little bit more. I think it opens us up to a different part of town and spreads us out a little bit where some people might not get downtown and see us practice or play. They can come out here and enjoy it.”

Following the open practice portion, all three teams competed in a mini skills and shootout competition. UBC goaltender, Danielle Wierenga, held her own against the mighty Canucks and her fellow UBC Thunderbirds. The first year puck stopper stopped Canucks forwards, Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund, and really soaked up the event.

“It’s just really fun,” said Wierenga. “It’s cool to be in that kind of an environment where you can play with these guys, and just have fun with it, and it feels good. At the end of the day, it’s just a really awesome experience.”

UBC’s Kathleen Cahoon is tied for first overall in Canada West scoring with 5 goals on the season. She was in fine form during the shootout and delivered a sensational sick deke that left jaws dropped everywhere.

“It was super fun,” said Cahoon. “It was a really cool experience to get out there with the Canucks and the men’s team. It’s the first time the women’s team has ever been with the Canucks on the ice, so it was a really cool experience for everyone.”

Despite being a Calgary native, Cahoon has always supported the Canucks. Meeting some of the players she has grown up watching will be a life long highlight she won’t soon forget. Being starstruck wasn’t an option for Cahoon and the Thunderbirds, the Canucks were down to earth and left a positive impression.

“They gave us a couple of little taps,” revealed Cahoon. “Bo (Horvat) came around and shook everybody’s hand and introduced himself to us. That was pretty cool, he’s a pretty big guy. They were super nice and just really encouraging. I’ve grown up watching the Canucks all my life and they’re my favourite team, so it was like a dream come true being able to go on the ice with them.”

UBC Thunderbirds forward, Haneet Parhar during the Canucks on Campus fundraiser on Saturday, November 12. Photo Credit - Ben Nelms.

UBC Thunderbirds forward, Haneet Parhar during the Canucks on Campus fundraiser event on Saturday, November 12. Photo Credit – Ben Nelms.


Canucks on Campus has helped both UBC hockey programs. Going forward, both programs will be able to provide terrific opportunities for UBC hockey athletes. Everything gets a boost, from scholarships, recruitment, travel, hockey equipment, nutritionists, health, ice time, and many other areas.

North Vancouver native, Danielle Wierenga knows how important the fundraiser was for UBC.

“It’s really important, it’s really cool to get a lot of the community out and see them supporting us. It’s just a great event overall for that, because it shows the passion of the community. Everyone wants to come out and help support our teams, and it’s a great feeling.”

There is early speculation that the Canucks on Campus fundraiser could become a yearly event to help support the UBC family. Obviously a lot planning goes into organizing an event like this. If this occurs every year, you won’t have any complaints from Cahoon.

“I think that’d be awesome,” said an excited Cahoon. “I don’t know if it’s in the works at all. It’s the first annual, so maybe we can get it going again. Hopefully in the future we can maybe do even more smaller events, or anything with them is good.”