Welcome to Vancouver Brendan Gaunce… Belleville Bulls centre

Vancouver Canucks 1st round selection (26)

Welcome to…the city where you better not be a goalie…

It’s always nice to bear witness to someone’s dream coming true. It’s even better to see that exact event 30 times in 4 hours. Yet, there’s still the arduous and lingering sense of fatigue one gets when watching the NHL Entry Draft when your own team doesn’t pick until the 26th spot.

The Vancouver Canucks made their selection at roughly 7:30pm PST and while it was nowhere near as off the map as Calgary’s pick of Mark Jankowski was, they did pull of what could one day be looked at as a steal.

As my friend and fellow writer here at NWSB Kevin Vanstone pointed out, Brendan Gaunce of Markham, Ontario was the highest ranked Canadian forward prior to the draft and that IS something to write home about.

Yes that’s correct, his name is Brendan Gaunce. It’s nothing complicated like Slater Koekkoek which is pronounced COO-COO. He was actually slated (no pun intended) to be picked by the Canucks by a lot of people but went early to Tampa Bay with the 10th overall selection.

I don’t want to bore you with all the things this young man has in common with the love of my life Cody Hodgson but allow me to point out just a few for kicks and giggles (this is a family website).

Brendan Gaunce

DID YOU KNOW: Brendan’s brother Cameron plays within the Avalanche? (Photo – Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

I already mentioned the fact he was born in Markham/Sudbury area of Ontario which is exactly where Hodgson honed his skills as a bantam. He’s also a centreman. Of course, he was selected by the Canucks in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Lastly, but certainly not least and this is arguably the most important one; it’s how easy his name really is and yet how difficult it will probably turn out to be for fans and media alike in Vancouver to figure out.

Let’s break down his name right now so there’s no wondering in the future.

Brendan – Spelled with an E, not an A. This means you make an E sound, not an A sound. It’s kind of like how Hodgson is spelled with a silent G as opposed to a loud G.

Gaunce – Like the word Gaunt. Expect Brendan to come out about a year from now and proclaim that his surname is actually pronounced like how The Lonely Island says BOSS or how Epic Meal Time says SAUCE!

This isn’t just fun and games though because Brendan is actually a pretty good hockey player. Standing at 6’2” and 215 lbs., I’d love to see him come face to face with a guy like Milan Lucic in a one on one situation. Maybe he could mess that nose up a little bit more. So what else does Brendan bring to the table? Let’s take the, as promised, in-depth look.

Courage – That of a Lion

It’s a good thing there’s no NHL team called the Lions because then I couldn’t have used that header. No, I’m not suggesting he suits up for the B.C. Lions. Brendan Gaunce may be a centreman but he’s got guts. This is pretty self-explanatory once you watch the video of a game in December of 2011 where his Belleville Bulls were taking on the Kingston Frontenacs. Enjoy:

Gaunce has had other fights that weren’t as successful but the point is he’s willing to step up and stand up for his teammates which is something the Canucks have been in dire need of for a while. Here’s to hoping Zack Kassian fills out and provides a bit of help in that role before Gaunce can crack the lineup.

Heart – A big, red Canadian one

Also much like Cody Hodgson, Gaunce has had the opportunity to don the red and white and play on the international stage. Comparing his success at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and the 2011World Under 17 Hockey Challenge to Hodgson’s success at the World Juniors would be unfair. However, it’s not out of this world to say that any player who been given the chance to play for Canada at any level is somewhat of an upper echelon player.

Watch this video:

This was in a preliminary round game at the 2012 U18 World Ice Hockey Championships and I believe the most poignant thing of his penalty shot being saved is the way he reacts afterwards. Three words come to mind: calm, cool and collect. Canada went on to lose that game 4-2 but wound up facing Finland again in the Bronze Medal Game.

Guess who scored the 4-1 Goal for Canada in that game. Yup, Brendan Gaunce. To boot, it was short-handed after a teammate had received a game misconduct. Even though these two events happened in different games, it sort of rings an Alex Burrows-esque bell of clutchness and perseverance throughout a game or tournament.

Brains – The mental capacity to improve consistently

Brendan has played two years with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL and in his first year scored 11 goals to go along with 25 assists for 36 points in in 65 games. He was also a -31 but to be fair, the Bulls were 21-43-4 that season and barely made it, believe it or not, into the playoffs.

In his 2nd season with the Bulls, it’s not surprising that as he developed and reached greater heights, so did the Bulls. Belleville went on to a 35-32-1 season, still actually barely making the playoffs but Gaunce stood out. Should he return and he almost undoubtedly will for a 3rd season of CHL puck, Canucks fans can expect Gaunce to be a guiding light for the Bulls and be a top performer at the Major Junior level in Canada.

If you want to go further back before the Bulls came into Brendan’s life, one need only to look at his 2009 and 2010 seasons with the AAA Midget Markham Waxers (which Cody played for) where he scored 55 goals and added 93 assists in 86 games. Enough said.

In this mighty fine interview with Brendan done by Leafs TV at the NHL Scouting Combine that was posted on YouTube earlier this June, the Canucks new draft pick talks about playing at both ends of the ice and how much he has developed with the Bulls.

The other aspect of his skill set that impresses is his shot. He has one of the strongest shots in the draft, displaying strong accuracy and speed, but more importantly, a very quick release. He has all of the intangibles that you look for in a future leader at the next level, and looks like a player who will one day be a captain in the NHL.” — Sean Lafortune, The Prospect Blog

Youth – The wherewithal to trek through life

The header may seem a tad bit strange because obviously, the kid is just 18 years old as of March 25th, but that’s not quite what I’m getting at.

There’s this thing called aging where people get older, retire and slowly watch their skills deteriorate. I’m not suggesting Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler’s skills are fading but they will be in a relatively short amount of time.

That leaves guys like Cody Hodg…sorry, Jordan Schroeder and Joseph Labate as the future of the Vancouver Canucks. This is of course where Gaunce comes in as a 2nd or 3rd line center somewhere down the road because just going by what I’ve learned about him in recent hours, he’s an upgrade over prospects like Mats Froshaug, Prab Rai and Stefan Schneider.

What’s in a name?

We already went over how to pronounce his name but there’s the other matter of nicknames. It’s become a staple here in VanCity that each and every player has to have an alternate moniker and whether it’s unoriginal like Kes or unique like Juice, everybody has one.

brendan gaunce

Gaunce at the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this June (Photo – Getty Images)

The options open for Brendan include but are not limited to:

Gaunce, Gauncey, Dan, B-Gaunce and BeeGee

That’s not the only fun we can have. Play by play broadcasters will thank me for this one as it expands their corny sayings list for use during a game. The well-known phrase of saying a player’s jock is hanging from the rafters after he’s been deked to the high heavens is unfortunately rarely used by big league commentators but now we have a variation.

When Brendan Gaunce inevitably undresses a guy so bad, he goes crying home to mommy, the play by play announcer can proclaim that rather than his jock, his gaunce (sounds like gonch which means tighy whities) is hanging from the rafters. This one was brought to you by the always imaginative brain of yours truly.

Gazing into the crystal ball

Brendan Gaunce is at the very least 1 year away from playing in the NHL. I say the very least because it’ll probably end up being more like two or three. However, he will make an impact on this team somewhere down this yellow brick road we all walk in the search for that elusive Stanley Cup.

Author’s note: Judy Garland passed away 43 years ago today.


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