GAMEDAY HARVEST LIVE: The Abbotsford Canucks drop their first game at home in 5-2 drubbing by the Ontario Reign

Tonight, the Abbotsford Canucks face off against the visiting Ontario Reign for the first of a back-to-back weekend.

But first, let’s quickly discuss the hockey stuff that actually matters.

Kyle Beach and the Blackhawks

In case you missed it, Jenner & Block released their full 107-page investigative report, delivered to the Chicago Blackhawks, regarding their organization’s handling of sexual assault allegations against then video coach Brad Aldrich.

If you haven’t had the chance to read it, I urge you to. Trigger warning/Content warning, the report contains graphic depictions of multiple instances of sexual assault.

The report itself details a grossly incompetent and callous head office staff that prioritized winning the Stanley Cup and their image over the health and safety of their players.

In summary, five members of the Blackhawks senior staff, including Stan Bowman, Kevin Cheveldayoff, John McDonough, Al MacIsaac, and head coach Joel Quenneville, were informed of the sexual assault by the team’s mental health coach Jim Gray. Gray informed them that Brad Aldrich had pressured the 20-year-old Beach for sex and threatened Beach’s career if he did not comply.

After learning what had transpired between Aldrich and Beach, the senior staff questioned whether it was the right time to investigate the matter. Several interviewees pointed out that Joel Quenneville prioritized maintaining team chemistry, and others highlighted McDonough’s desire to avoid negative publicity amid the team’s 2010 playoff run.

After being informed of the sexual assault, the senior leaders sat on the information for three weeks.

They did nothing until June 14th, when John McDonough finally informed the Blackhawks Director of Human Resources.

During those three weeks, Aldrich additionally sexually assaulted a male intern while engaging with all team activities and celebrations in the presence of Beach.

Even after the Director of Human Resources was informed of the allegations, the team chose not to investigate Aldrich. Instead, Aldrich was allowed to resign, under threat of an investigation into Beach’s accusations.

Aldrich had his name engraved on the Cup and celebrated his day by taking it to a local high school.

Three years later, Aldrich was arrested and pleaded guilty to 4th-degree sexual assault of a minor in Houghton, MI.

Kyle Beach did everything right. He told all of the right people, and they all consequently failed him without remorse.

Upon the report’s release, many noticed that the editors had forgotten to anonymize details of John Doe’s identity. The widespread doxing attempts contributed to Kyle Beach revealing himself as the John Doe of the story.

If you have not watched it yet, I urge you to watch Beach’s tearful and heartbreaking interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead.

Kyle Beach conducted the most honest and brave interview I think I’ll ever watch in my life for twenty-five minutes.

This particular question rocked me to my core.

Kyle Beach with TSN’s Rick Westhead transcribed at TSN.ca.

Beach is the victim. A survivor of Aldrich’s heinous and reprehensible actions, and here he was on national TV, baring his soul, sharing his truth, his trauma at the hands of Aldrich and the Blackhawks organization. Here Beach was apologizing for the inaction of his superiors that caused a 16-year-old kid the same suffering.

The senior leaders, Joel Quenneville, the NHLPA led by Donald Fehr, failed to protect Beach. The old boys club that prides itself on its courage, bravery, and toughness, failed Kyle Beach because they were scared of looking bad.

In the aftermath of the Beach interview and the Jenner & Block report, Stan Bowman was allowed to resign in Chicago, Joel Quenneville was allowed to resign in Florida, and Kevin Cheveldayoff kept his duties as GM of the Winnipeg Jets.

Cheveldayoff continuing his post is a disgrace.

Gary Bettman’s position on Cheveldayoff’s complicity in the Blackhawks inaction is pathetic. Fireable, truly.

For those unaware, Cheveldayoff was the overseer of the AHL affiliate, Rockford Icehogs, during his time as AGM of the Blackhawks.

Akim Aliu brought up Cheveldayoff’s position as AGM during the Bill Peters dismissal fallout.

The Calgary Flames fired Peters when the post-Babcock scandal revealed he had used the N-word towards Aliu on multiple occasions. This incident occurred back in 2009-2010 when Peters was head coach of the Rockford Icehogs.

Akim Aliu December 12th, 2019

Cheveldayoff is complicit in what happened to Kyle Beach. As overseer of the Rockford Icehogs, he’d have been responsible for the Black Aces squad members.

I refuse to accept that Cheveldayoff, a two-year AGM for the Blackhawks at the time of the allegations, was the low-man on the Blackhawks organizational chart.

This summation doesn’t even get into the comically weak responses from Beach’s former teammates in Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews.

Toews going to bat for MacIsaac and Bowman after the Beach interview played on TSN is downright shocking to read and comprehend.

 

Gary Bettman maintained that he has express authority to determine whether Stan Bowman or Joel Quenneville is fit to return to the NHL in any senior leader capacity. That isn’t good enough.

Crossing out Brad Aldrich’s name off the Cup isn’t good enough.

The leaders that failed Kyle Beach have yet to face real consequences for their actions.

The Canucks paid a higher penalty for Luongo’s contract than the Blackhawks will for having swept the sexual assault of one of its players under the rug.

The NHL needs to be better, and their handling of the Blackhawks investigation is not good enough.

All of this is to say that the Blackhawks’ colossal failure and dereliction of duty to protect its players is more important than the result of tonight’s AHL game between Abbotsford and Ontario.

Hockey culture needs to be changed, and every outlet must address this issue. The NHL can’t be allowed to sweep this under the rug either.

The AHL Nucks Harvest extends its love and thanks to Kyle Beach for his bravery in coming forward.

ROSTER UPDATES

  • Justin Bailey was the first AHL call-up of the season and has played two games for the NHL club as a 5v5/PK specialist.

  • Nic Petan was called up so quietly by the Canucks that I almost missed it!
  • Lockwood last played in the first period of game two versus the Ontario Reign.

  • Plášek’s last shift came during the first three minutes in the first period of game three versus the Ontario Reign.

  • It looks like Klimovich has carved out a spot in the AHL! I can’t wait to watch him progress over the season.
    • And I’m sure Chris Faber is also grateful that he won’t have to add “clipping QMJHL games” to his workload!

  • It’s unsurprising to me that Klimovich stuck with the AHL club. For an 18-year-old kid, his offensive polish is second to none on the team.
  • Though his activity away from the puck still needs work, it’s easy to forgive Klimovich for his lack of defensive polish given his age and the overwhelming dynamism to the offensive side of his game.

THE OPPOSITION

The Reign go with the same lineup they had during the Canucks opening road trip, less Kale Clague and Austin Strand.

STARTING ROSTER

  • Travis Hamonic doesn’t draw into the starting lineup
  • With Bailey and Petan called up to the NHL Canucks, and injuries to Lockwood and Plasek, Devante Stephens moves up to play as a forward

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

GAME 6:

1st period:

PP1: Di Giusseppe, Schiling, Rempal, Lukosevicius, Dries

PP2: Bowey, Focht, Klimovich, Bowey, Neilsen

PK1: Wouters, Stevens, Juulsen, Sautner

PK2: Dries, Di Giuseppe, Woo, Bowey

PK1: Dries, Di Giuseppe, Juulsen, Sautner

PK2: Woo, Brubacher, Wouters, Focht

  • Canucks finish the period heavily out-shot fourteen to six but up on the scoreboard one-zip

2nd period:

PK1: Wouters, Stevens, Juulsen, Sautner

PK2: Di Giuseppe, Dries, Brubacher, Woo

PK1: Dries, Stephens, Juulsen, Sautner

  • GOAL – ONTARIO – 1-1 TIE: *Jim Halpert it could only be you cake.jpeg* Tyler Madden ties things at one apiece after circling out to the high slot for a one-timer. Hard to fault Artūrs Šilovs for the game-tying goal as the Canucks have been out-shot eight to one after ten minutes.
  • Vinny Arseneau (#18) with a crushing hit on Ontario’s Adam Johnson inside the offensive zone
  • GOAL – ONTARIO – 2-1 Reign: Johan Sodergran with a gorgeous solo drive on goal for the backhand tiebreaker-goal. Trent Cull won’t like those stationary feet of Focht’s one bit. I’ll repeat myself, hard to fault Artūrs Šilovs for the game-tying goal as the Canucks have been out-shot six to one after ten minutes.
  • A few shifts later, Sodergran draws a tripping penalty against Cameron Schilling to put the Canucks on their sixth penalty kill of the night.
  • Canucks kill off the Schilling penalty, but at what cost.
  • GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 2-2 TieSheldon Dries (#15) scores his second of the night from an impossible angle to tie the game up at two. Abbotsford getting absolutely shelled in shots, twenty-eight to nine.
  • Sheldon Dries is looking for the hat-trick as he rips a one-timer on Vilalta with less than two minutes to go in the period.

3rd period:

RESULT:

Ontario Reign def. Abbotsford 5-2

SCORESHEET:

Game 6 Scoresheet versus Ontario

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Tonight, the Canucks were quite overmatched by their young, speedy opposition. The puck activity by the Reign’s forward groups continuously gave the Canucks forwards fits. Ontario drew five penalties against the Canucks through their rush entries and their overwhelming offensive zone cycling. They could not keep up. “I think we could’ve been a little bit smarter too. We got ourselves in penalty trouble; give them some momentum for sure. I thought we had a good push there in the second, and then I think they came out and had a pretty good push in the third.”
  • Artūrs Šilovs was lights out for this team as he faced barrage after barrage of shots from the Reign. A member of the media/scouting gallery was heard multiple times exclaiming how. “this game was a shooting gallery!” Šilovs stood tall through the majority of the game. Trent Cull said post-game, “Arti, in his young time playing for me, has done nothing but show really well. He looks like a great young prospect for the team, and I thought he played really well again tonight.”
  • I liked Chase Wouters’ game tonight. He looked assertive on the penalty kill and was incredibly disruptive at 5v5 with his physicality and stick work.
  • Overall, I thought the Canucks fourth line was the only thing going for them tonight. Cull wasn’t as enthused by their play, but he did offer some neutered praise. “I think they’re doing as best as they can for young guys playing in the American Hockey League. It’s not an easy way to kind of transform into. But, in the small roles that they played, they got a chance there in the third. We’re going to have to work on some d-zone coverage with them and make sure they have their assignments and that when they can become reliable hockey players, then they’re going to get more ice time.”
  • Sheldon Dries stood out for the two goals-for, he’s become a very effective utility piece for Abbotsford. Tonight, Dries was used heavily on the PK, powerplay, and at 5-on-5.

 ‘Sheldon’s a very reliable player. Plays in all situation. Quietly goes about his job. He’s been a threat for us the whole start of the year and good for him for getting two.” Trent Cull on Sheldon Dries two-goal performance tonight.

  • Phil Di Giuseppe is an odd case to me. In some shifts, he is completely invisible, and in others, he looks to be a clear NHL player playing against rookies.
  • I thought Ashton Sautner had a pretty effective game tonight. The Canucks didn’t often break into the offensive zone to spark up a cycle, but it felt like Sautner was on the ice for it whenever they did. In the d-zone, I thought he kept pace with the Reign’s pervasive speed and had some key deflections during Ontario’s cycle that broke up dangerous plays.
  • Speaking to Sautner post-game, he spoke about Ontario’s relentless pressure off of breakaways, “We talked about that as one of the things we keyed on. We knew they were a fast team overall, but they like to spread out through the neutral zone and get a guy running in line. It makes it a lot harder because if we don’t make a stop on their other players coming through the neutral zone, they’ll have a lot of speed, and that creates a lot of separation for the defenseman.”
  • I asked Cull if it was frustrating to see Ontario get so many breakaway opportunities off the blue line, and he said, “that’s their shtick or their plan that they blow the zone and a guy leaves, and we knew that was going to be part of the game. But they’re a fast, effective team. That’s part of them opening up the game. We tried to counteract that a little bit. But, I thought we were [off] tonight.”
  • I also asked Sautner what it was like for this game, having been split from his usual partner, Jett Woo, for the first time this season. “I try not to read into the pairings too much. I’ve had a lot of partners over the years. So you know, when you get with a new guy, you just try to develop as much chemistry and gel as quickly as possible. And to be honest, it’s just another guy. They change all the time.”
  • Sautner has been with the Canucks organization since 2015-16 after signing out of the WHL. He spent the bulk of the 2019-20 season playing on his off side. However, playing on his off side didn’t bother him. “Yeah, it’s nice. I mean, for me, I honestly don’t mind playing both. I played the other side in junior as well. I think we’ve got a good balance of righties and lefties right now.”
  • Cull had no update on Madison Bowey’s status after his knee-on-knee collision with Cameron Schilling late in the third period.
  • Found myself sharing the elevator to the post-game media availability with a group of the player’s spouses. It was very surreal. They unsarcastically seemed very nice.

Popeye’s Update

At 10:30 PM, with a 50-minute drive ahead of me, I couldn’t summon the energy to stop for Popeye’s on the way home.

Someday folks, someday.

Cody’s Three Stars

  1. Artūrs Šilovs
  2. Artūrs Šilovs
  3. Artūrs Šilovs

HM: Sheldon Dries and Chase Wouters

Next Up on the Docket

Abbotsford will need to hit the reset button because they’re back at it again tomorrow night against Ontario, before a double-header road trip versus the Stockton Heat.

Plugs

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