Boeser’s pro debut one for the books

Burnsville native scores first NHL goal against hometown team

Burnsville native Brock Boeser helped North Dakota win an NCAA hockey championship in his two seasons there. Last weekend he signed with the Vancouver Canucks and scored goals in two of his first three NHL games. Photo by Tyler Ingham/UND Athletics
Burnsville native Brock Boeser helped North Dakota win an NCAA hockey championship in his two seasons there. Last weekend he signed with the Vancouver Canucks and scored goals in two of his first three NHL games. Photo by Tyler Ingham/UND Athletics

Brock Boeser has scored two goals in his first three games in a Vancouver Canucks uniform, following a hectic weekend that saw him play his final college game and his first NHL game less than 24 hours apart.

Boeser, a Burnsville native and former Burnsville High School player, played in the University of North Dakota’s double-overtime loss to Boston University last Friday in the NCAA West Regional in Fargo, N.D. That turned out to be the last game of Boeser’s college career. He returned to Grand Forks on Friday evening, then the next morning signed with Vancouver, which had selected him 23rd overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. Then he got on a plane and flew to the Twin Cities, joining the Canucks’ starting lineup for their Saturday afternoon game against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

With about 50 friends and family members watching from suites and the stands, Boeser scored his first NHL goal, jamming a rebound past Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper in the second period. That put Vancouver up 3-0 in a game the Canucks went on to win 4-2.

Wearing No. 6, Boeser skated 19 shifts and had 12 minutes, 44 seconds of ice time in that game. He had four shots on goal.

He also played Sunday in a 2-1 Vancouver loss at Winnipeg.

With the Canucks already eliminated from playoff contention, a local Vancouver columnist questioned whether the Canucks were rushing Boeser to the NHL in search of a feel-good story during a lost season. Boeser, however, scored his second NHL goal on Tuesday in his home-ice debut. It was the Canucks’ only goal in a 4-1 loss to Anaheim.

Boeser, who turned 20 last month, played two seasons at North Dakota. As a freshman, he led his team in scoring with 60 points (27 goals, 33 assists) as the Fighting Hawks won their school’s first NCAA championship in 16 years. “I came in looking to help any way I could, but my role was to score goals,” Boeser said in a Sun Thisweek story last spring. “The expectations were there, but the season was beyond anything I’d hoped for.”

Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher was Boeser’s teammate on the 2015-16 UND national championship team.

Boeser briefly considered turning pro after that season but decided he would benefit from another year of college hockey. He had 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 2016-17 despite missing some time in midseason because of a wrist injury.

In his one full season of Junior A hockey, in 2014-15 with the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks, Boeser had 35 goals and 68 points in 57 games.

His final season at Burnsville was 2013-14, his junior year of high school. Boeser had 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) in 26 games for a Burnsville team that finished second in the South Suburban Conference and reached the section semifinals.