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!
— Cody Severtson (@CodySevertson) October 23, 2021
With the gratuitous auto-fellatio out of the way, let’s get into the Abbotsford Canucks first-ever home game!
Having been in the Abbotsford Centre only once, I can confirm that this place will be ROWDY as the season progresses.
— Jay Swing (@JaySwing) October 23, 2021
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!
Loudest cheer of the night for intros goes to Noah Juulsen.
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) October 23, 2021
See what I mean? It’s going to be a ROWDY barn!
THE OPPOSITION Sven Bärtschi Return
Sunday, April 13th, 2014, was the last time Sven Bärtschi suited up for a game at the Abbotsford Centre.
Playing for the Abbotsford Heat, the then affiliate of the Calgary Flames, Bärtschi 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 Bärtschi returns to the lower mainland as the first-line winger for the Henderson Silver Knights.
Bärtschi 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 Bärtschi, a consummate professional who took his AHL demotion much better than some players have.
Though Bärtschi’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 Bärtschi return to NHL action.
Benning simultaneously implied that the team had outgrown the need for Bärtschi’s “soft skill.”
It was very not nice.
How could he be mean to this face?
“Look at that hangdog expression! He’s learned his lesson. Let’s get him a [call-up]!” – Me and others …probably
Bärtschi 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, Bärtschi 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, Bärtschi’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.
— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) October 23, 2021
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!!
- Pre-game ceremonies begin with a First Nations land acknowledgement from Stan Morgan of Matsqui First Nation
- The Henderson Silver Knights chromed-out buckets are incredible. They’re so ugly that they circle back to being awesome again.
- Devante Stephens (#24) takes a tripping penalty on the near boards ten seconds into the period while defending in the neutral zone. Canucks are off to a very early PK!
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
- Bailey steals the puck while forechecking deep inside the offensive zone and chews away precious seconds off the Stephens penalty.
- Noah Juulsen (#47) lays a hit on fellow #47, Sven Bärtschi drawing a massive pop from the crowd
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 Bärtschi.
- 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 Bärtschi playing as Henderson’s powerplay one-timer spot is an interesting choice. Dorofeyev is playing on the left wall where Bärtschi 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
- Nic Petan (#7) sends a one-timer pass into the feet of Danila Klimovich (#46), who then promptly turns over the puck
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 Bärtschi.
- GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 1-0 Canucks: Off the disrupted Bärtschi 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
- Klimovich (#46) gets knocked to the ice inside the offensive zone. As he’s going down, Klimovich hooks the puck to Bailey (#95), who quickly zips a cross-ice pass to Di Giuseppe (#34) for the one-timer
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
- DiPietro makes a one-timer save on Henderson’s Kaedan Korczak
- A late chance from former Vancouver Canuck, Derrick Pouliot, closes out the first twenty minutes of Abbotsford’s home debut.
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:
- Canucks post-up inside the offensive zone, but a pass from Justin Bailey (#95) puts the Canucks offside when no one is there to receive his pass at the blue line
- Logan Thompson sits on the puck after making a huge save on Cameron Schilling (#5)
- DiPietro with a snapping save on Jermaine Loewen.
- Jett Woo takes a hooking penalty, and the Canucks are off to their fourth PK.
- Canucks PK putting in work to keep Henderson inside the neutral zone
- Henderson finishes their fourth powerplay with only three shots on goal
- Before setting up Jermaine Loewen for a one-timer scoring chance, Brayden Pachal goes inside on Devante Stephens (#24), forcing DiPietro to make a clutch save to keep things knotted at one
- Henderson’s Ben Thompson gets dinged for tripping, and the Canucks go to their third powerplay
- Bailey attempts to set up Klimovich for a one-timer, but the Silver Knights pick off the pass and force the Canucks to reset
- Arseneau (#18) with a sneaky fake-slapper to cross-ice pass through the slot on the powerplay
- Devante Stephens (#24) attempts to take away space from Maxim Marushev and inadvertently shoves him hard into Michael DiPietro. Stephens takes a roughing minor while Marushev takes two minutes for both roughing and goaltender interference.
- Junior Canucks with a two-minute four-on-four before a two-minute 5-on-4 powerplay, their fourth of the game
- Not a lot of good look from the powerplay unit; one shot on the 4-on-4, zero shots on the powerplay
- PP2 hops over the boards with less than thirty to work
- Vinny Arseneau (#18) cracks the glass over the penalty box, attempting to lay a hit
- Seconds later, the refs call an incredibly soft hooking penalty against Justin Bailey. Canucks head to their fifth penalty kill.
- Ashton Sautner (#6) gets dinged for cross-checking on the PK, and the Canucks go to a 5-on-3 penalty kill for fifty seconds
- Canucks PK holds Henderson to one shot on goal on the 5-on-3
- Bailey leaves the box as the Canucks kill off the two-man advantage from Henderson
- Bailey (#95) with some dicey hacks while attacking the Silver Knights on the forecheck
- Canucks kill the Sautner penalty, and this game returns to 5v5 (for the time being)
- Some dangerous chances for Nic Petan (#7) and Phil Di Giuseppe (#34) around the net of Thompson!
- Jermaine Loewen takes two for roughing after a net-front scrum in the Silver Knights d-zone.
- Canucks to their fifth powerplay
PP1: Bailey, Di Giuseppe, Petan, Schilling, Rempal (subs for Klimovich)
- Canucks powerplay generates a single shot *sigh*
- Henderson’s Tyler Busch takes a high-sticking penalty, and the Canucks head to their sixth powerplay.
- These referees really dislike 5v5 play, apparently.
- Danila Klimovich (#46) with a slick dance along the blue line before chipping for the entry. Klimovich catches his own chip-in and button-hooks back to the blue line for Madison Bowey (#4)
- Canucks with an offensive zone faceoff with one second left in the period. Cull pulls DiPietro for the extra attacker.
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.
- Jr. Canucks start the third with 39 seconds of powerplay time
- Arseneau attempts a tip on net, but it sails wide of Thompson
- Klimovich (#46) with a slick takeaway off a d-zone faceoff, leading to a chip-and-chase entry from Jarid Lukosevicius (#14)
- Bailey (#95) takes a bump then gets chippy with Ben Jones while making a line-change
- Sheldon Rempal (#56) finds a wide-open Carson Focht (#19) off of the Canucks zone entry, only for Focht to rip a wrist-shot off the crossbar and wide
- Blake Siebenaler takes a cross-checking penalty inside the Canucks d-zone, and the Canucks powerplay sadly goes to work, again for the seventh time tonight.
- GOAL – HENDERSON – 2-1 Silver Knights: Justin Bailey (#95) sends a pass to the blue line for Cameron Schilling (#5), but it’s off-target. Henderson’s Ben Jones races onto the loose puck and wrists one past DiPietro for the go-ahead goal.
- GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 2-2 Tie: What an individual effort from Danila Klimovich (#46) to knot things up at two apiece! Klimovich starts the sequence with a terrific zone entry and shot on goal. Jarid Lukosevicius (#14) catches Henderson’s board-and-out attempt for a shot attempt of his own. Klimovich retrieves Lukosevicius’ rebound and sets up a wide-open John Stevens (#16) for the one-timer goal.
- Tristen Neilsen (#84) eats a hard reverse-hit from Ben Jones inside the offensive zone, but he recovers, catches Jones at the Canucks blue line, and lays a hard check on Jones from behind that forces Henderson offside.
- Jarid Lukosevicius takes a late tripping penalty, and the Canucks head to their eighth penalty kill.
- Dorofeyev puts the Knights offside on a zone entry attempt
- Canucks PK stones Henderson, holding them to zero shots on goal as Lukosevicius leaves the box.
- Klimovich (#46) getting some good looks with less than five remaining in the period
- Bärtschi picks up a loose puck and walks down the right wing for a wrister off of the blocker of DiPietro.
- Madison Bowey (#4) takes a clear high-stick to the eye in front of the officials, and incredibly, this is the one time they don’t call a penalty
- Nic Petan (#7) finds Cam Schilling (#5) making an insane pinch towards the net and hits him with a terrific pass. Schilling’s shot, however, sails wide of the goalpost.
- Time winds down on the period with the Canucks crushing Henderson in shots-on-goal 35 to 24 but even in goals as this game heads to 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.
Abbotsford Canucks def. Henderson Silver Knights 3-2 in Overtime!
- 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!
— Cody Severtson (@CodySevertson) October 23, 2021
- 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
- Justin Bailey
- Danila Klimovich
- 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!
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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!