Jaffray debut 'unbelievable'

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET

The sheer elation on his face and the fierceness of the fist-pump told you all you needed to know about the NHL debut of Jason Jaffray.

Even the day after, the 26-year-old from Olds, Alta. was still beaming after scoring his first NHL goal and adding an assist on Mason Raymond's first NHL marker as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif.

"It's unbelievable, I would have been happy with two shifts, let alone two points," Jaffray said in a telephone interview from San Jose, Calif., where he was set to play his second NHL game against the Sharks. "Everybody asks me 'how does it feel?' and I really can't explain it. You dream of that moment for your entire life. When it did go in, it felt like I jumped five or six feet in the air and I was floating for about two minutes after.

"I was thinking, 'did that really just happen?'"

It most certainly did and there's video evidence. On Wednesday, Jaffray centred a line with fellow Manitoba Moose call-up Mason Raymond and Taylor Pyatt and occasionally found himself taking a turn on the Canucks' power play with Markus Naslund and company.

"Playing those exhibition games at the start of the season helped out a little bit," said Jaffray, who finished with 20 shifts for 12:12 of ice time. "There was no real feeling-out phase for me. Pre-season is not the regular season, but it just helped build my confidence a bit before the game. I felt I could keep up."

Jaffray showcased great patience in the first period, outwaiting Ducks blue-liner Joe DiPenta before whipping a pass over to Raymond, who one-timed the puck home for his first goal in 10 NHL games.

"It's weird, usually on 2-on-1s I'm looking to shoot right away," said Jaffray, who signed a two-way contract with the Canucks last summer after spending the first five years of his pro career on minor-league deals. "But going down the ice, I just had a feeling. The way Mason was coming in, I knew I could get the goalie sliding across if I could get that pass across fast enough. Give a lot of credit to Mason, that's not an easy shot to make."

During the second period, Jaffray took a pass from Raymond behind the Ducks net, walked out in front and wristed a shot high over the blocker of goalie J-S Giguere for what would prove to be the game-winning goal.

Jaffray enjoyed several "welcome to the show" moments on Wednesday, the first of which came when defenceman Scott Niedermayer came over during the Ducks morning skate to shake his hand and congratulate him on finally making it.

"He wished me the best of luck and that just calmed me down," said Jaffray. "I had butterflies the night before, let alone at the rink. I caught myself during the national anthem being a little star-struck, but the first shift we got out there and had them hemmed into their zone for about 45 seconds. It really comes down to a confidence factor."

Moose head coach Scott Arniel was proud to see both Jaffray and Raymond notch their first NHL goals.

"To see them contribute was good to see," said Arniel. "For Mason, it was probably a little bit of a sense of relief. He had already been up there for nine games. To get the one out of the way, you don't squeeze your stick as much.

"For Jaff, that was his type of goal. In front of the net in that 10-foot area. It shows he's confident enough to know he can play at that level."


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