Tonight marks an emotional return to the Abbotsford Centre for the Abbotsford Canucks.
In addition to this game being their first back at home since mass-flooding displaced thousands in the Fraser Valley region, tonight’s game is the team’s first-ever Hockey Fights Cancer night.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out their “who we fight for” video.
Just make sure you don’t watch it while cutting onions… Because that’s totally what got me, nothing else…
— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) November 30, 2021
The Abbotsford Canucks look to turn the page on a particularly brutal chapter in their franchise’s young history with emotions running high off-ice.
Beyond the torrential rain that uprooted several players from their homes or the minor shuffle to the team’s schedule; the Canucks November could not have gone worse from an on-ice perspective:
- Three points out of a possible twelve
- One regulation win surrounded by matching three-game losing streaks
- Injuries to Jack Rathbone and Karel Plasek
- Four powerplay goals on twenty-seven attempts (would be third-worst pp% in the AHL)
Attempting to turn the page on the November rain won’t be easy either, given their opponent tonight, the, um, er, Ontario Reign, is operating as one of the AHL’s top teams.
The non-atmospheric Reign have won eight of their last ten games and hold a stellar 5-1-0-0 record on the road.
Their powerplay is ranked second in the AHL. But, as a consolation, their PK is second-worst in the league.
Probably so they can get back to dominating at 5v5 and on the powerplay. 5D chess baybee!
Surprisingly, however, this Abbotsford Canucks squad has picked up 36% of their points this season against those same Pacific Division-leading Ontario Reign!
I mean, they still lost three of their four games, haha. But grabbing points in three of four games against a legitimate powerhouse can pay dividends down the road if they find a way to beat the Barracuda’s, Heat’s, and Silver Knight’s of the Western Conference!
- Complete side note: the New-Utica Comets, the Nütica Comets, if you will, are leading the AHL with a staggering 0.938 points-percentage and a ridiculous +32 goal differential.
The visiting Ontario Reign are not far off from the Nütica Comets either; they currently lead the Western Conference with a 0.821 points-percentage and the highest goals-for per game in the league.
The Abbotsford Canucks, uh… well, they don’t lead the league in any category. But they play in BC, and that’s pretty gosh darn neat!
- Don’t look now, but Tyler Madden has eight points in fourteen games played while recording 27 shots on goal.
- In four games against Abbotsford, Madden has scored twice against twenty-two individual shot attempts.
- Madden’s production and shots on goal would put him fourth-highest on the Abbotsford Canucks in both categories.
- FWIW: In the few games I’ve watched of Ontario’s, I’ve felt that Madden’s point totals are not reflective of the quality of work he puts in at either end of the ice
- Canucks opting to go with eleven* forwards and seven defencemen while staring down the barrel of a single victory in November is certainly bold.
- I also wonder if the seven d is compensatory in the case that Rathbone’s injury flares up mid-game?
- Or, the Abby Canucks think that having seven D gives them better options at evens?
- The decision to go with Arseneau and Wouters as the spare forwards instead of Carson Focht is quite telling.
- I am so very happy that they didn’t make Devante Stephens and Chase Wouters the spare forwards.
Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!
- Ten seconds into the period, Cameron Gaunce trips headfirst into the Reign endboards and limps down the tunnel under his own power
- Vinny Arseneau (#18) sells out for a shot-block then stares down Ontario’s Austin Strand.
- GOAL – ONTARIO – 1-0 Reign: Well, that’s not the start the Abbotsford Canucks were hoping for… Inside the d-zone, Nic Petan (#7) attempts to flip himself the puck, but Ontario’s Gabe Vilardi catches it and instantly hands off to T.j. Tynan. Tynan dishes cross-ice to Adam Johnson, who freezes DiPietro with a deke to the backhand before going five-hole. Yeesh.
- Jack Rathbone (#3) sends a puck to the doorstep for a tap-in, but nobody’s there for the attempt.
- The Canucks with two dominant back-to-back shifts inside the offensive zone, but nothing in the way of shot attempts
- The Canucks hand Ontario’s Vladimir Tkachev a dangerous scoring chance when neither Jarid Lukosevicius (#14) nor Will Lockwood (#10) notice Tkachev wading towards the goal line unattended.
- Another dangerous scoring chance for Ontario when Brett Sutter backhand’s a pass to an unattended Jordan Spence in the slot
- Sheldon Rempal (#56) gloves down a high-flip in the neutral zone, allowing Phil Di Giuseppe (#34) to enter the offensive zone and set up Sheldon Dries (#15) for a one-timer on goal.
- GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 1-1 Tie: The Canucks even things up with twelve and change remaining in the opening period! Jett Woo (#22) kicks off the sequence with a long stretch pass to Vinny Arseneau (#18) for the zone entry and shot on goal. Arseneau’s shot rebounds off Matthew Villalta’s left pad, and Nic Petan charges in for the rebound through Villalta’s five-hole.
- In the neutral zone, Ontario’s Helge Grans picks off a pass from John Stevens (#16) and sets up Tyler Madden for a scoring chance from the slot.
- Rempal (#56) races down the left wing and draws an interference penalty against Austin Strand to give the Canucks the first powerplay of the game.
PP2: Schilling, Klimovich, Dries, Lockwood, Di Giuseppe
- A whole lot of nothing for the first powerplay group; Cull subs off Dries, Lockwood and Klimovich
PP2.1: Bailey, Stevens, Rempal, Schilling, Di Giuseppe
- Justin Bailey (#95) somehow misses a tap-in scoring chance from the doorstep.
- Bailey (#95) goes between the legs for another scoring chance.
- Rathbone (#3) wheels around Tyler Madden and the end boards for a wraparound chance on Villalta
- Bailey (#95) draws a holding penalty against Ontario’s Jaret Anderson-Dolan, comically shaking off Anderson-Dolan’s stick in the process.Canucks to their second powerplay of the game!
PP1: Bailey, Rathbone, Petan, Stevens, Di Giuseppe
- Canucks lose the zone off the faceoff, then Nic Petan catches a rut on a zone-entry attempt that put’s the Canucks offside.
PP2: Schilling, Dries, Arseneau, Lockwood, Di Giuseppe
- More nothing from the Canucks re-jigged powerplay units
- Cull throws out the original PP1 for an offensive zone faceoff after PP2 generates nothing
- Powerplay expires then, in true Canucks fashion, they take a bench minor for too many men.
PK1: Lockwood, Wouters, Juulsen, Sautner
PK2: Stevens, Di Giuseppe, Bowey, Brisebois
- PK2 easily clears the zone; nothing happening on the Ontario powerplay after one minute on the man-advantage
PK3: Bailey, Dries
- DiPietro goes coast-to-coast for a save on Gabe Vilardi.
- Jarid Lukosevicius (#14) leaves the box after serving the bench minor and races down the left wing for a shot off Villalta’s blocker.
- A strong first period for the Abbotsford Canucks as they finish the first period, having outshot the Reign twelve to four.
- Chase Wouters called for hooking twenty seconds into the second period.
- Canucks to their second penalty kill of the game.
PK1: Sautner, Juulsen, Lockwood, Stevens
- John Stevens (#16) breaks up the Reign’s attack, allowing Lockwood (#10) to race up-ice into the offensive zone for a shorthanded chance on Villalta.
PK2: Di Giuseppe, Petan, Brisebois, Bowey
PK3: Bailey, Dries
- Another solid PK for the Canucks as they hold the Reign to a single shot on goal.
- Ontario finds another gear to start this period, as they spend the first five minutes exclusively inside the Canucks d-zone.
- Madison Bowey (#4) bumps Gabe Vilardi behind DiPietro’s net and puts the Canucks on their third penalty kill of the game.
PK1: Wouters, Sautner, Juulsen, Stevens
- Wouters wins the faceoff back to Juulsen, who plays the puck over to Stevens for the clear.
PK2: Bailey, Di Giuseppe,
- Ontario’s Gabe Vilardi misses a wide-open net!
- Sautner double-shifted in the d-zone on the PK; Wouters/Stevens back out for the d-zone faceoff
- Canucks successfully kill off the Bowey interference penalty!
- DiPietro was forced into making a huge stop on Ontario’s Adam Johnson after the Reign capitalized on how far up the Canucks D are playing into the neutral zone.
- A frustrating shift for Danila Klimovich (#46) after he flubs a shot attempt from the goal line before getting muscled to the ice along the Ontario endboards
- GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 2-1 Canucks: Sheldon Rempal (#56) sends Phil Di Giuseppe (#34) on a breakaway into the offensive zone, and he goes between his legs, post and in, to break the tie and give the Canucks a one-goal lead.
- Will Lockwood draws a tripping penalty against Adam Johnson to immediately put the Canucks on the powerplay off the ensuing faceoff.
PP1: Rempal, Petan, Rathbone, Bailey, Stevens
- Canucks powerplay loses the offensive zone after a cycle around the boards escapes the zone.
- Rempal misses a board-and-out, slams his stick in frustration, and the Canucks 1st powerplay unit changes.
PP2: Klimovich, Schilling, Di Giuseppe, Lockwood, Dries
- In the dying seconds of the Canucks powerplay, Klimovich (#46) pounces on a loose puck and deftly slips a pass through the crease for the tap-in. Unfortunately, no one’s there for the chance.
- Arseneau (#18) forces a turnover behind Villalta’s net, and Chase Wouters (#21) picks up the loose puck for a centering pass. Klimovich (#46) misses the pass, but Ashton Sautner (#6) catches it for a shot on goal.
- Ontario’s Vladimir Tkachev heads to the box, and the Canucks head to their fourth powerplay of the game.
- GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 3-1 Canucks: The Canucks finally connect on the powerplay as Nic Petan (#7) finds Sheldon Rempal (#56) with a gorgeous cross-ice feed through traffic that Rempal buries with a laserbeam under Villalta’s glove.
- Guillaume Brisebois (#55) flubs a breakout pass from inside the d-zone, leading to a dangerous chance for Ontario’s Martin Frk.
- With less than four minutes left in the period, Ashton Sautner (#6) heads to the box for elbowing Ontario’s Markus Phillips.
PK1: Stevens, Wouters, Bowey, Woo
- Lockwood (#10) strips Martin Frk of the puck while shorthanded and races down the left wing for a chance. Frk knocks Lockwood to the ice, drawing the ire of the Abbotsford faithful.
- Sautner dips out of the box, and the Canucks are 4/4 on the PK
- Sautner (#6) with a breakaway chance after leaving the box! Villalta with the huge save!
- Arseneau (#18) with a crushing hit at the Canucks blueline followed by his second blocked shot of the game!Justin Bailey helped Arseneau to the bench. Fortunately, Arseneau was able to make his way down the tunnel under his own power.
- Time winds down on the middle frame with the Canucks still outshooting the Reign, twenty to thirteen.
- DiPietro with an early save on a breakaway from Gabe Vilardi.
- Back-to-back one-timer chances from Chase Wouters (#21) and Vinny Arseneau (#18).
- Canucks are sent to their fifth PK of the game as Cameron Schilling is called for holding.
PK1: Wouters, Stevens, Sautner, Juulsen
- Samuel Fagemo rips a shot that deflects wide of DiPietro’s net, forcing the Reign to reset from their end.
- Chase Wouters (#21) runs the puck end-to-end to kill time off Schilling’s penalty.
- Lockwood (#10) single-handedly disrupting the Reign’s breakout attempt.
- Martin Frk fans on a one-timer attempt, and the crowd let him hear it, haha.
- Jett Woo (#22) sends John Stevens (#16) deep into the offensive zone on a breakaway, but the refs call offside.
- Woo (#22) does a great job of tying up Anderson-Dolan’s stick at the net-front to prevent a certain scoring chance.
- Seven minutes left, and Jack Rathbone ices the puck.
- GOAL – ONTARIO – 3-2 Canucks: 6:47 left in the third period, and the Ontario Reign put themselves within one. After losing the d-zone faceoff after Rathbone’s icing, an innocuous shot from Jacob Moverare redirects off a skate in DiPietro’s crease and into the net.
- Brisebois (#55) ties up and rides Alex Turcotte into DiPietro while defending the rush.
- Sheldon Rempal draws a hooking penalty against Ontario’s T.J. Tynan with less than four minutes remaining in the period.
PP1: Rathbone, Bailey, Stevens, Petan, Rempal
- Ontario’s Brett Sutter throws a blatant elbow to the head of DiPietro while forechecking shorthanded.DiPietro took several minutes to get up, and Sutter heads to the box for elbowing.
- The alternate angle on the elbow is really not great.
- Canucks to an extended 5-on-3 powerplay.
PP1: Dries, Rathbone, Rempal, Petan, Di Giuseppe
- Petan (#7) hammers a one-timer into the chest of Villalta.
- Petan (#7) misses a hold on the blue line, forcing DiPietro to make a colossal shorthanded save on Aidan Dudas.
- Both penalties expire; 5-on-5 with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
- Ontario pulls Villalta for the extra attacker with one minute left in the game.
- Sautner (#6) blocks a hard shot off his right leg then gets up to shove Jaret Anderson-Dolan away from the side of the net.Sautner needed assistance getting up and to the bench.
- Will Lockwood clears the puck over the blue line, and the Canucks end their three-game losing streak and close November with two. Count ’em. TWO regulation wins!
Abbotsford Canucks def. Ontario Reign 3-2
- The Abby Canucks end their losing streak on the backs of strong goaltending from Mikey DiPietro and a stellar performance from the team’s penalty kill as they successfully go 5/5 on the night.
- The decision to go 11F/7D paid off. It felt like the Reign’s coaching staff struggled in the first period adapting to the sheer volume of line combinations that Cull was throwing out.
- I particularly liked that Arseneau, Stevens, and Wouters trio. They were dominant in the offensive zone and I feel like Arseneau stepped up his defensive game because he was playing with two effective defensive role-players in Stevens/Wouters. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Arseneau sell out for shot-blocks in three years of watching this Canucks AHL team. Two in one game had to be from the elevated responsibility. Arseneau came to play tonight and he did not look out of place in the minutes he was given.
- He didn’t end up on the scoresheet, but we have to respect Will Lockwood’s efforts tonight. I still worry that his forced puck management and breakout passes to nowhere could be the deciding factor that prevents him from sticking at the NHL level. But, boy it sure would be nice to see someone with his skating and his work rate on this miserable NHL Canucks roster.
- DiPietro was huge for the team tonight. That shorthanded save on the Canucks 5-on-3 could have been the difference between two points or none at all. In the final period, the Reign were pressing hard, outshooting the Canucks ten to six in the third.
- Worth noting that the Reign were without Sean Durzi. a major player for the Reign’s powerplay.
- I doubt anything will come of it, but the league should take a look at Sutter’s late elbow on DiPietro.
- It was a tough game for Danila Klimovich. On-ice for the late goal-against by Alex Turcotte after having been benched for the majority of the third period. He’s still young, so a benching here and there won’t hurt him too badly. Klim’s puck management was a bit of an issue tonight as he gave up several crucial turnovers on the team’s powerplay and at 5v5. Again, he’s a wee child. I’ve liked the improvements to his two-way play and I thought he had some good reads tonight against an agile team in Ontario.
- I thought this was one of Jett Woo’s better performances. His shot still needs work. But I liked his in-zone coverage tonight; had some key stick tie-ups in front of the net that prevented several goals-against.
- Justin Bailey has speed, but he hasn’t looked great since returning to Abbotsford if I’m being honest.
Cody’s Three Stars
- Phil Di Giuseppe
- Sheldon Rempal
- Michael DiPietro
HM: Will Lockwood, Nic Petan, and Vinny Arseneau
Next Up on the Docket
The Junior Canucks are back at it again tomorrow night when they rematch the Ontario Reign.
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