TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Vancouver’s Brock Boeser was more than happy to just be at the NHL All-Star game, mingling with some of the high-profile players he grew up admiring.
Leaving Amalie Arena as the first rookie to take MVP honors since Mario Lemieux in 1985 on Sunday far exceeded anything he imagined possible.
“Shocked,” said the 20-year-old Canucks star. “I never would have dreamt this any time in life.”
Boeser played for the Waterloo Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League during the 2014-15 season before spending two years at North Dakota. In Waterloo, he piled up 35 goals and 33 assists in 57 games.
Rickard Rakell had two goals and Boeser, Johnny Gaudreau and Drew Doughty also scored to help the Pacific Division beat the Atlantic 5-2 in the championship game of a four-team divisional tournament played in an entertaining three-on-three format adopted for the All-Star game in 2016.
The NHL’s leading rookie scorer with 24 goals and 19 assists for the Canucks also had a helper in the final after scoring to put his team ahead for good in the Pacific’s 5-2 semifinal victory over the Central Division.
“I was definitely nervous coming into it,” said Boeser, the only rookie among 15 first-time All-Stars. “(I said) enjoy this, just have fun, smile. That’s what I did.”
Goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Mike Smith teamed to allow just four goals in the two games the Pacific won to claim the $1 million winner-take-all prize.
Mike Green had two goals for the Atlantic, one off both Fleury and Smith in the final.
Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov had three goals in the Atlantic’s 7-4 semifinal win over the Metropolitan Division, however the Lightning’s young star was shut out in the championship game.
“After we saw that we won the first game, we said we needed to tighten up a little bit and play a little harder there for the cash,” said Gaudreau, who plays for the Calgary Flames.