GAMEDAY HARVEST LIVE: The Abbotsford Canucks chaotic overtime thriller starring Justin Bailey and Danila Klimovich

I don’t know how I’ve done it.

After three years of recapping AHL hockey from a cave with a box of scraps, I’ve found my way inside the Abbotsford Centre as an accredited member of press-row!

With the gratuitous auto-fellatio out of the way, let’s get into the Abbotsford Canucks first-ever home game!

THE BARN

Having been in the Abbotsford Centre only once, I can confirm that this place will be ROWDY as the season progresses.

10/10 decision by the Junior Canucks to bring Jay Swing into the DJ Booth.

11/10 decision by the Junior Canucks to make Al Murdoch the in-arena announcer! Great brand synergy!

See what I mean? It’s going to be a ROWDY barn!

THE OPPOSITION Sven BĂ€rtschi Return

Sunday, April 13th, 2014, was the last time Sven BĂ€rtschi suited up for a game at the Abbotsford Centre.

I Spy with my little eye, current Canucks d-man Brad Hunt

Playing for the Abbotsford Heat, the then affiliate of the Calgary Flames, BĂ€rtschi recorded zero points on two shots on goal in a 5-4 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons.

The reported attendance was 5,065—a hair short of the arena’s 7,046-person capacity.

I mean, Calgary Flames prospects in Canucks territory? With complete hindsight, I can’t believe it didn’t work!

After a ho-hum final year with the Utica Comets, his last as a member of the Canucks, Sven BĂ€rtschi returns to the lower mainland as the first-line winger for the Henderson Silver Knights.

Current Top Scorers: Henderson and Abbotsford

BĂ€rtschi sits tied for scoring with Pavel Dorofeyev, the Vegas Golden Knights 2019 3rd round pick (79th overall), and right-winger Lynden McCallum, a 21-year-old undrafted free agent who previously played for the Kelly McCrimmon-owned Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Farmies, the Comets Harvest, and the AHL Nucks Harvest have always been a fan of Sven BĂ€rtschi, a consummate professional who took his AHL demotion much better than some players have.

Sven BĂ€rtschi from his interview on CHEKTV’s Donnie & Dhali Show

Though BĂ€rtschi’s final year with the Comets didn’t inspire confidence that he could be an NHL-caliber forward, he had nonetheless earned a greater opportunity than had been given to him after overcoming his concussion-plagued 2018-19 season.

The Canucks called up Sven in Early November, where he played six games, putting up two points in roughly 62-minutes of action before being sent back down to Utica.

Afterwards, Jim Benning claimed to be working on trades that would see BĂ€rtschi return to NHL action.

Benning simultaneously implied that the team had outgrown the need for BĂ€rtschi’s soft skill.”

It was very not nice.

How could he be mean to this face?

Sven BĂ€rtschi team photo new to old [L-R]

“Look at that hangdog expression! He’s learned his lesson. Let’s get him a [call-up]!” – Me and others …probably

BĂ€rtschi finished his 2019-20 season with the Utica Comets fourth in points, second in assists and sixth in goals. During the abbreviated 2020-21 season, BĂ€rtschi put up five goals and nine assists, good for fifth in team scoring.

Presently, the Vegas Golden Knights have a stacked forward group. An NHL look might be a tall task for the 29-year-old Swiss forward.

All that said, BĂ€rtschi’s NHL career is ripe with examples of having never shied away from adversity. His potential road back to the NHL continues tonight against his former AHL squad, the newly minted Abbotsford Canucks.

STARTING ROSTER

Healthy Scratches: Adam Brubacher, Spencer Martin, Alex Kannok Leipert, Ethan Keppen

Injury Report: Guillaume Brisebois, Will Lockwood, Karel Plasek (?)

Will Lockwood’s last shift came in the Canucks Saturday game against the Ontario Reign, with less than four minutes remaining in the opening frame. While Lockwood wasn’t on the receiving end of any ugly-looking hits against Ontario, he did lay a couple himself and had got in a fight the previous night in Bakersfield. Trent Cull laughed when asked about Will Lockwood’s status post-game and only remarked, “no update.”

Karel Plasek had a giveaway during a short shift less than three minutes into the first period of Abbotsford’s Tuesday night rematch against Ontario and didn’t take another shift afterwards.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 4:

1st period:

PK1: Di Giuseppe, Woo, Petan, Sautner

  • Nic Petan picks off a pass to the blue line and clears for Abbotsford

PK2: Juulsen, Bowey, Dries, Bailey

PK3: Di Giuseppe, Stevens, Woo, Sautner

  • Di Giuseppe steals another Silver Knights pass and clears the zone as time winds down on the Stephens penalty.
  • DiPietro deflects a breakaway scoring chance from none other than Sven BĂ€rtschi.
  • Chase Wouters drives down the left wing for a backhander on Thompson. Canucks pressuring with volume from all over the offensive zone.
  • Phil Di Giuseppe takes a slashing penalty, and the Canucks are onto their second PK.

PK1: Juulsen, Stephens, Dries, Stevens

  • Sven BĂ€rtschi playing as Henderson’s powerplay one-timer spot is an interesting choice. Dorofeyev is playing on the left wall where BĂ€rtschi previously spent most of his PP time with Utica.
  • PK1 clears, and the Canucks change personnel

PK2: Sautner, Petan, Woo, Bailey

  • Henderson is desperately looking for the redirect from the slot, but they are getting nothing through the Canucks traffic.
  • Another clear for Abbotsford and the Canucks kill another penalty
  • Juulsen (#47) does a little deke at the Canucks blue line and wows the hometown crowd
  • At this point, you’ve probably noticed the lack of clips. Well, let me say, clipping a tape-delayed stream of live hockey in the arena is VERY difficult!
  • It’s my first day!
  • Silver Knights caught with too many men on the ice gift wrapping the Canucks their first powerplay of the game.

PP1: Bailey, Petan, Klimovich, Schilling, Di Giuseppe

PP2: Bowey, Arseneau, Focht, Rempal, Dries

  • Powerplay expires
  • DiPietro forced to make a clutch save off of a quick-up from Henderson, started by Sven BĂ€rtschi.
  • GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 1-0 Canucks: Off the disrupted BĂ€rtschi rush, Noah Juulsen (#47) sends Justin Bailey (#95) deep into the offensive zone on a breakaway. Bailey with a great look-off fake-pass to his trailer that fools Logan Thompson. Bailey scores the first goal in Abbotsford Canucks franchise history. The crowd goes nuts as Jay Swing makes it official: The Abbotsford Canucks goal song is Green Day’s Holiday.
  • GOAL – HENDERSON – 1-0 Tie: Less than one minute after the Bailey goal, Henderson’s Pavel Dorofeyev nets the equalizer. A fumbled d-zone breakout pass from Sheldon Dries (#15) results in an ocean of open space for Lynden McCallum to find Dorofeyev with a cross-seam pass. Dorofeyev curls the puck back and beats DiPietro with a shot over the right pad.
  • 17 seconds after the game-tying goal, Mason Primeau takes a slashing penalty, and the Canucks are off to their second powerplay of the game

PP1: Bailey, Petan, Klimovich, Schilling, Di Giuseppe

PP2: Bowey, Arseneau, Focht, Rempal, Dries

  • Focht slips a shot through traffic, but Thompson makes the save
  • Noah Juulsen takes a charging penalty, and the Junior Canucks are off to their third penalty kill of the first period!

PK1: Dries, Stevens, Woo, Sautner

  • PK1 wins the d-zone faceoff and quickly clears the zone for Abbotsford

PK2: Bailey, Di Giuseppe sub-on, Woo/Sautner stay

  • PK groups doing a tremendous job keeping the Silver Knights pinned in their zone

PK2: Stevens, Petan, Bowey, Stephens

2nd period:

Cody from the future here, ain’t no way I’m writing down who’s on each PK/Powerplay for the rest of the game and here’s why:

Henderson @ Abbotsford: Second Period Penalties

PP1: Bailey, Di Giuseppe, Petan, Schilling, Rempal (subs for Klimovich)

Allegedly there was 5v5 hockey played during this period, but we barely saw any of it.

Fun wild action all over the ice with ten shots for both teams, but oh boy, that much sustained special teams time takes a lot out of you. I will have nightmares about the number of board-and-out’s I witnessed tonight.

3rd period:

OVERTIME:

  • Sautner, Rempal, Stevens start in OT
  • Petan drives on goal with a clear opportunity, then drop passes to a Henderson skater
  • GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 3-2 Canucks: Justin Bailey finally steps onto the ice for 3-on-3 and does Justin Bailey things to win it in overtime. Bailey (#95) picks up the loose puck from the Canucks d-zone half-wall and races down the left wing into the offensive zone. Bailey hammers the brakes to deke around the sliding defender and hits Madison Bowey (#4) with a perfect pass for the redirect goal. What a wildly chaotic game.

RESULT:

Abbotsford Canucks def. Henderson Silver Knights 3-2 in Overtime!

SCORESHEET:

Game 4 versus Henderson Silver Knights Scoresheet

TAKEAWAYS:

  • The home-white kit for the Abbotsford Canucks actually rocks. I’m still not sold on the Johnny Canuck logo, but over top of the pads and gear, it looks great!
  • The Abbotsford Centre was a rockin’ venue. I’m not sure if the crowd noise comes across well on AHL.tv, but the crowd POPS in person!

  • Jarid Lukosevicius (pronounced like Lukos-savages) ought to be a fan favourite in Abbotsford. Press row was absolutely gushing over the kid after his wonderful media availability post-game. Born in Squamish and having played for the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, Lukosevicius was an early August depth pick-up who is arguably playing his best hockey right now in Abbotsford. His smile was infectious during his availability, and he spoke about being a Canucks fan growing up, “I loved the Sedins, I loved … Iove all of ’em, Kesler, Burrows.” Upon mentioning Burrows, a member of the media pool quickly asked Lukosevicius if Burrows was why he wears number 14? Lukosevicius gave a hysterical answer with a very deadpan, “sure!”
  • Danila Klimovich is a wizard with the puck. There is still clearly a tonne of work to be done regarding his engagement level away from the puck, but he is clearly an NHL-level talent when he does possess the puck. There are certainly layers to his overall game that are slowly exposing themselves as this season progresses. I’ve liked his zone-entry work and puck-protection/puck-handling under pressure. His passing looked much better tonight and less helter-skelter.
  • I liked Noah Juulsen’s game tonight. He played a heavy physical brand of hockey that seemed to shut down a lot of the Silver Knights offence around DiPietro. The Junior Canucks still give up way too many odd-man rush chances, but they appear to do quite well with handling the cycle down-low, just based on my eye test.
  • Justin Bailey, for my money’s worth, is angling towards an NHL call-up. His speed is above average at the NHL level and is downright comical at the AHL level. Some of my favourite moments from press row were Harman Dayal’s incredulity over how much faster Justin Bailey was than every other skater on the ice.
  • I asked Trent Cull about Bailey’s game tonight, and he remarked upon his usage, “I thought [his game] was good! That top line, for a group that’s just been thrown together, I thought they had a good evening. I used them a lot in all situations, and it doesn’t surprise me that they end up rewarding us, especially in those big times. I think Justin’s playing a really good brand of hockey right now.”
  • Bailey’s 2019-20 debut with the Utica Comets saw him pot 28 goals and 19 assists and a two-game cup of coffee with the Vancouver Canucks. I truly think Bailey is due for a longer look this season. He’s reached a different level. He’s playing a much more physical brand of hockey. I think I’ve seen him throw more hits through four games this season than I ever saw him throw during 53 games in 2019-20.
  • I’ve also really liked the new looks Bailey’s introduced to his game as a puck distributor. Through the first two games that I’ve tracked, Bailey led the Canucks in primary shot-assists at 5v5. Speed, physicality, edge, size, goalscoring, and playmaking is a very attractive package worth considering for the Vancouver Canucks bottom-six. Bailey leads the team in points with five in four games while playing considerable minutes at 5v5, on the powerplay, and as a second-out penalty killer. He’s bound to get a look this year.

The Special Teams thing

  • Look, this game was chaotic and fun but kind of a slog at times, mostly because the combination of eight penalty kills and seven powerplays led to a metric f***ton of board-and-out resets from the d-zone.
  • Credit where it’s due, the Abbotsford Canucks penalty kill went 8/8 on the PK. In total, they killed off 15 minutes of 5-on-4 TOI and 68 seconds 5-on-3 TOI. I asked Justin Bailey about the Canucks special teams, and he gave a lot of credit to the teams’ PK work, “We’ve killed off a lot of 5-on3’s already this year, and obviously you don’t want to play a game with 15-16 penalties, that’s not fun for anybody. At the same time, our PK is kind of picking up our powerplay right now, and going into Sunday that’s something we obviously need to address. But the PK has been great, guys are really selling out blocking shots, and it’s fun to watch!”
  • DiPietro’s save percentage won’t reflect it, but he played really well tonight. I’m happy Abbotsford fans got to see him windmilling glove saves and his usual acrobatics. Kids a hoot.

The Popeye’s thing

  • I forgot to grab Popeye’s on the way home. F’s in the chat

The late review thing

  • Apologies for the delay on this recap, I drove the Boy Genius from Abbotsford to South Van before driving home to Port Moody. Completely worth it. As much as I enjoyed covering hockey live as accredited media, nothing will top talking hockey, life, friendships, relationships, vibes, and our lives outside of hockey with HD. The kid is wise beyond his years. Inquisitive, funny, charming, and just a wonderfully polite boy. 10/10 would delay game recap again!

Cody’s Three Stars

  1. Justin Bailey
  2. Danila Klimovich
  3. Jarid Lukosevicius

HM: Noah Juulsen

Next Up on the Docket

The Junior Canucks return for the rematch against Henderson this Sunday at 4 PM PST.

I’ll be there! Provided they don’t revoke my press pass!

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and gameday clips from the Vancouver and Abbotsford Canucks!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine over at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Creasecast Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Also! Make sure you tune into the Canucks Warm-Up, Saturday on Sportsnet650 to hear me talk all things Abbotsford (not goalies) with Chris Faber!

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