CALGARY — Opportunity has come knocking for Vancouver Canuck forward Dale Weise, who couldn’t get to the door fast enough to answer.
A knee injury to fellow winger Chris Higgins has left a hole on Vancouver’s third line and Weise has been asked to fill it alongside Derek Roy and Jannik Hansen.
“This is a big opportunity for me,” an excited Weise said before Wednesday’s National Hockey League game against the Calgary Flames. “It sucks to lose a guy like Higgins. He was playing so well and he is such a big part of our team, penalty-kill wise and five-on-five. He creates a lot.
“I am not going to do anything to change my game. I want to get in there, be physical, get those guys the puck and get to the net and see what happens … it’s an opportunity for me to show what I can do offensively.”
Weise, who has primarily been a fourth-line player with the Canucks, does not think he’ll have any trouble keeping up with his new speedy linemates.
“I’ve said many times I am very confident in my skating, very confident that I can hop in and fill a role on that line,” he said. “Derek is very skilled and Jannik plays a very straightforward game and he’s real fast and I think that fits well for me.
“I don’t think I am going to go out there and try and toe-drag guys and be the last guy back and stuff like that. I play a north-south game and try to be strong down low and strong on the boards. I just want to try and get to the front of the net and hopefully create some room for those guys.”
Weise was particularly excited about the opportunity to play alongside Roy, who was acquired just before last week’s trade deadline.
“He has got some high-level offensive skill, for sure,” Weise said.
“He can make plays. He is very patient with the puck, he hangs onto it for that extra second, whereas most guys are a little nervous to make plays. That’s the difference between good players and really, really good offensive players in this league.”
GOALIE SCHOOL: The Canucks had to do some last-minute scrambling to find a backup goalie for Wednesday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
Cory Schneider, who was scheduled to make his 12th consecutive start, fell ill with the flu and Roberto Luongo made his first start since March 18.
But the Canucks had to summon University of Calgary goalie Dustin Butler to be their emergency backup.
Butler, 25, just finished his fifth year tending goal for the Dinosaurs, where he sported a 2.44 goals against average and .903 save percentage in 17 games this season. He sported a winning record of 9-7. His statistics were fifth best in the Canada West University Athletic Association.
Prior to attending the U of C, Butler spent five seasons in the Western Hockey League where he suited up for the Portland Winterhawks, Kamloops Blazers and Prince Albert Raiders. He was a teammate of Canucks winger Jannik Hansen while with the Winterhawks.
The Canucks last employed a CIS goaltender in 2003 when Chris Levesque was summoned from the UBC Thunderbirds to back up Johan Hedberg after regular starter Dan Cloutier injured his groin.
In 2011, the San Jose Sharks signed UBC goalie Jordan White as an emergency backup at Rogers Arena.
NO OPTION: The Canucks had a highly optional morning skate Wednesday when only five players — Andrew Alberts, Cam Barker, Steve Pinizzotto, Tom Sestito and Roberto Luongo — hit the ice.
Weise joked there were no optional morning skates when he played for the Tilburg Trappers of the Dutch League during the NHL lockout. And they were early.
“You had to be there every day no matter what,” Weise said. “It was weird. You’d pre-game skate at 8:30 in the morning and then you’d play games at 8:30 at night. It was different.”
And your day wasn’t done when the home games ended because the players were required to schmooze with team sponsors following games.
“The sponsors kind of run the teams over there so the players had to go up and meet and greet with all the sponsors and it was pretty much mandatory to stay there for an hour.”
MISSING REF: It was during Vancouver’s last visit to Calgary on March 3 that Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was called for a bench minor after he complained to referee Kelly Sutherland about not calling a penalty on Calgary forward Matt Stajan for an elbow on Vancouver defenceman Chris Tanev.
The Flames scored the winning goal one second after that bench minor expired and following the game Vigneault was livid about the call.
It is interesting to note that in the 19 games the Canucks have played since then, Sutherland has not worked one of them. It’s probably not a coincidence.
CHASING IVY-LEAGUER: The NCAA Frozen Four begins Thursday in Pittsburgh and the Canucks are one of several teams said to have interest in Yale centre Antoine Laganiere.
The 6-4, 190-pound Laganiere attended the Canucks’ summer prospect camp in 2011. He had 14 goals and 27 points in 35 games with Yale this season.
Yale meets UMass-Lowell in Thursday’s first semifinal matchup. That game is followed by Quinnipiac versus St. Cloud State. Yale is the only one of the four teams that has ever advanced to the national semifinals and that was way back in 1952.
ON THE MOVE: With his recent run of shutouts, Cory Schneider is climbing the Canucks’ all-time list. Schneider’s five shutouts this season leave him with nine career goose-eggs.
That puts him No. 5 on the Canuck list, behind Gary Smith (11), Dan Cloutier (14), Kirk McLean (20) and Roberto Luongo (35).