PENTICTON, B.C. - Mark Scheifele played like a guy who had something to prove.
As the Winnipeg Jets wrapped up the 2011 Young Stars tournament with a 2-0 win Thursday over the vancouver Canucks, Scheifele had another strong game — scoring an insurance goal on a blistering shot and HE should have been credited with an assist on Shayne Wiebe’s goal as well.
That left the seventh overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft with two goals and two assists in three games. He had two excellent games in the three.
While this was merely the first step towards validation, Scheifele made an outstanding first impression.
“I’d say so,” said Scheifele, when asked if he was looking to make a statement during this tournament. “I loved it. It was an unbelievable experience. Anytime I’m on the ice, I’m having fun.
“I wanted to come out and work my hardest and show that I was worth the pick. I wanted to take the opportunity and run with it.”
Scheifele did more than just run with it. This was a full-blown sprint and he was at the front of the pack.
We’re not saying Scheifele is ready to break into the lineup this fall, but if this was any indication of what he brings to the table, he’s going to at least be in the discussion over the next month or so.
Whether he makes it this fall or not — and the best bet is that he won’t — many of those questioning the Jets decision to draft Scheifele so high might be eating crow before long.
The Jets brass was thoroughly impressed by Scheifele’s showing and they had reason to be.
“You’ve heard the story, he’s one year removed from Junior B hockey and played one year of major junior on the worst team in the OHL,” said Jets head scout Mark Hillier, who has watched Scheifele a great deal.
“He played with a lot of kids in Barrie that weren’t established players but this kid ended up with 50-something (53) assists on a pretty average team. He went to the Under-18 tournament (with Team Canada) and was their best player.
“We just feel good about what we’ve seen here too. It was a little affirmation for what we were thinking (when they drafted him). We think he’s just starting up the mountain. There’s going to be a lot better thingS to come.”
When you think about how high the ceiling is for Scheifele and how far he’s come in such a short period of time, there’s plenty of reason for optimism.
Scheifele wasn’t the only guy who took a step forward as main training camp gets set to open this weekend.
Winnipegger Jason Gregoire was one of the most consistent performers, as he should have been.
Carl Klingberg was limited to just one assist, but showed the gritty side of his game, while Russian winger Ivan Telegin — an explosive skater — seemed to get better and better as the tournament wore on.
Between the pipes, both goalies were pretty solid and Edward Pasquale made a statement of his own by not allowing a single goal.
Several of the Jets prospects will advance to the weekend, with a lot of the eyes staying glued on Scheifele.
“Sometimes I usually thrive when there’s more pressure,” Scheifele said. “Now it gets even better, playing against NHLers. You have to step your game up and I’m going to work even harder to play my best and do my best to show that I can play against NHLers.
“I never look past a game, but now after this game I’m looking towards (Saturday) and having a few good games, it gives you that confidence under your belt that you can play your best. It’s going to be a dream come true actually playing against NHLers.”
Brandon’s Wiebe scored the other goal for the Jets, who finished the tournament with a 2-1 record, while Pasquale and Chris Carrozzi combined for the shutout. Pasquale didn’t give up a goal in the game and a half he played.