The Vancouver Canucks kicked off the pre-season schedule Monday in style in Terrace, B.C., winner of the Kraft Hockeyville contest.
Sergei Shirokov scored twice as the Canucks snuck past the New York Islanders 2-1 in front of 1,200 fans at the Terrace Sportsplex.
CBC Sports will broadcast a one-hour special this Saturday hosted by Hockey Night In Canada's Ron MacLean and featuring Don Cherry and Cassie Campbell-Pascal (CBC, 7 p.m. local, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
"Obviously, we had tremendous support here tonight, as we did throughout the day," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "I think for a first game, it was entertaining.
"I thought there was a lot of energy on the ice. At the end of the day, it turned out to be a pretty good day."
Terrace, with a population 12,000, won the right to be named Kraft Hockeyville over 7,100 entrants, including finalists Harbour Grace, N.L., Humboldt, Sask., Thetford Mines, Que., and Woolwich Township, Ont.
The grand prize was $100,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft and, of course, the privilege of hosting the Canucks and Islanders in the NHL's pre-season opener.
The other four finalists receive $25,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft.
The previous winners were: Roberval, Que. (2008); North Bay, Ont. (2007); and Salmon River, N.S. (2006).
"The atmosphere, the fever — it has been awesome," said Bob Park, co-chairman of Terrace's Hockeyville committee. "It was a lot of fun to put it all together and watch it progress."
"This is about as good as it gets," enthused Steve Smyth, a member of Terrace's Hockeyville committee. "It has been bigger better and more spectacular than I ever imagined."
CBC Sports will televise a one-hour Kraftville Hockeyville 2009 special on Saturday hosted by Ron MacLean with guests Don Cherry and Cassie Campbell-Pascal at 7 p.m. local and 7 p.m. ET online at CBCSports.ca.
'They represent Hockeyville tremendously'
Shirokov slid in Aaron Rome's rebound from a sharp angle to open the scoring with a power-play goal 1:45 into the contest.
Jon Sim replied 10:58 into the second period, stripping Canucks defenceman Mario Bliznak of the puck in the slot and beating netminder Andrew Raycroft with a rising backhand shot.
"It was a great game," Sim said. "The pace was really fast for an exhibition game this early.
"It was a lot of fun. They were really into it.
"They were great. They represent Hockeyville tremendously."
"It was fun," added Raycroft, who was replaced by Cory Schneider following the goal.
"Obviously, it is a great idea. Everyone around gets excited for it and we enjoy it.
"It is kind of fun to come up and see some new parts of the country. It is nice to mix it up early in the year."
It remained 1-1 until Shirokov settled a rebound with his left skate and backhanded it by Islanders goaltender Nathan Lawson for what proved to be the winner 9:19 into the third period.
"It was great," Islanders head coach Scott Gordon said. "I was saying to everybody that the ice was awesome.
"I don't recall being on ice that good and very rarely do you see boards that are that true. It is a nice rink."
Several marquee players on the Canucks didn't travel to Terrace, notably Roberto Luongo and the Sedin twins.
Islanders rookie John Tavares, drafted first overall on June 26, remained at training camp in Saskatoon.