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Canucks pick Hunter Shinkaruk pounded in line brawl during Vancouver homecoming

Shinkaruk has been limited to 12 WHL games by a hip injury (image from Canucks Army)First Hunter Shinkaruk wanted to "jump onto the ice" with the Vancouver Canucks and then he got jumped on ice against the Vancouver Giants.

Suffice to say, the Medicine Hat Tigers had a more memorable homecoming to his NHL team's city than most first-round draft choices. After time ran out on the Tigers in a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Giants at the Pacific Coliseum, push led to shove and soon all 10 skaters on the ice were involved in a full-on line brawl. The focal point was the hand-to-hand combat between the captains, as Giants captain and Montreal Canadiens second-rounder Dalton Thrower chopped down Shinkaruk.

The Giants and Tigers are not in the same conference and only play once a season, so there was no concern about repercussions in future matchups. Shinkaruk and Thrower got the only fighting majors assessed during the melee, as everyone else got roughing penalties. Call this naivete, but it looked like more than two players were fighting.

The Canucks, who drafted Shinkaruk No. 24 overall, hosted the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, allowing their first-rounder to attend the game as a guest of Vancouver GM Mike Gillis. The 19-year-old lasted with the Canucks until late into their NHL training camp. So you can see the juxtaposition, of believing he was so close to realizing his hockey goal to having a tough end to his night in junior.

Despite the Hat's loss, the fact he was held off the scoresheet and the pounding he took from Thrower after the final buzzer, Shinkaruk was in good spirits after the game. "One of my buddies was getting hit, so I jump in, and the next thing I know I have nine hits to the back of my head," he said with a grin.

Medicine Hat had six players on the ice, having pulled the goaltender in the final minutes in an attempt to tie the game. They had the decided numerical advantage in the brawl, which is in part what led to Thrower dropping the gloves. "They had six guys on the ice so they were out-manning our group of guys and I mean, as soon as the ref broke me up I went after the guy that was jumping in to make it the third man," he said.

Both Thrower and Shinkaruk suggested they had no idea who their dance partner was until afterward. "I'm like... 'I don't want to drop the gloves' but I did," said Shinkaruk. "Now I just have about nine goose eggs on the back of my head." Did it still hurt ten minutes after the game had ended? "Oh yeah. That'll probably be my last fight."

Canucks director of player development Stan Smyl was in attendance Friday, and got a chance to see an element of Shinkaruk's game that isn't exactly advertised. Shinkaruk did say that it was a little easier to play this season because there now there aren't "10 to 15 scouts at most of our games. I guess this is pretty easy now because I know they like me."

Neate Sager (@neatebuzzthenet) contributed to this story. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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