Happy New Year to all you Harvesters out there!
Tonight, it’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life for the Abbotsford Canucks as they say peace out to their mildly disappointing 2021 and attempt to live up to their pre-season expectations in 2022!
The Junior Canucks finished 2021 with pretty average results but surprisingly above-average special teams!
- 17th in League by points-earning-percentage (PTS%)
- 19th in total goals scored (67 / 68 including the team’s lone shootout win)
- The Canucks finished 2021 with a +4 goal differential
- 15th in goals scored per game (3.09)
- 9th best powerplay
- 16th ranked penalty kill
- Goaltending was a clear problem for Abbotsford this season. Michael DiPietro took until his final start to get above a 0.900 save percentage. At 5v5, he’s sporting the worst save percentage among the Canucks goaltending trio.
- Fortunately, DiPietro has been a stud for the Canucks while shorthanded, rocking a stellar 0.918 save percentage. Spencer Martin and Arturs Silovs have been absolute sieves on the Canucks PK.
- The Junior Canucks were a bit unlucky to start the season. Despite out-attempting opponents (or breaking even) in six of their first ten games, they only picked up wins in four of those games.
- Only two of those wins came in regulation time!
- The Canucks didn’t pick up their third regulation win until their fourteenth game!
- Overall, they were out-attempted in twelve of twenty-two games at 5v5.
2022 and Beyond!
Owing to COVID-related postponements, the Canucks begin their 2022 campaign with a four-in-five at home against the visiting Bakersfield Condors.
They hit the road for three games in four nights four days later.
The January schedule relaxes a bit for Abbotsford slightly, as they close the month with consecutive back-to-back weekends, alternating between home and away.
Sheldon Rempal (snip snap snip snap)
Transactions: #Canucks assign forward Sheldon Rempal to the Taxi Squad.
— Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) January 4, 2022
Transaction: #Canucks assign Sheldon Rempal to Abbotsford from the Vancouver Taxi Squad.
— Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) January 6, 2022
Sheldon Rempal’s brief time on the taxi squad simply gave the Vancouver club enough bodies for practice.
I had initially wondered about the timing, as Vancouver doesn’t expect to play until the 8th, whereas Abbotsford would need Rempal for this upcoming 4-in-5.
Losing Rempal ahead of this stretch wouldn’t be catastrophic, but it would be pretty damn close to it.
He’s been good.
Very very very very very very good.
Rempal has been one of Abbotsford’s key offence drivers. Of the Canucks 287 shot attempts that occurred with Rempal on-ice at 5v5, he was directly responsible for 44.25% of them!
- For perspective, the player with the second-highest involvement percentage is Danila Klimovich with 40%.
Rempal leads the Canucks in almost every positive statistical category.
Soooo yeah, he’d be a pretty big loss during this difficult return-to-play stretch!
Brandon Cutler and Yushiroh Hirano
The #AbbyCanucks have signed forwards Brandon Cutler and Yushiroh Hirano to professional try out agreements.
— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) January 5, 2022
- Cutler joins Abbotsford from the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, where he led the team with 27 points in 23 games played.
- Cutler is a 22-year-old former WHL’er who spent five seasons in the dub before making his pro-debut with Utah this season.
- Hirano joins Abbotsford from the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, where he led the team with 29 points in 25 games played.
- Hirano is a 26-year-old journeyman who’s spent time in the Swedish J20 Superelit league, the AsiaLeague, and the USHL.
- Hirano played one game with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2018-19, where he became the first-ever Japanese-born player to score in the AHL.
— Flint Firebirds (@FlintFirebirds) January 5, 2022
Ethan Keppen had a rough go in his second stint with the Canucks AHL organization.
With zero points in twelve games played, Keppen to find his footing in 2021.
While not egregiously awful by any stretch, the clear lack of defensive IQ and ability to control play made this loan to the OHL a no-brainer.
In limited action, Keppen was relatively unremarkable. The closest comparison would be Zack MacEwen’s 2020-21 season with the Canucks; good wheels and energy, threw the body a lot, but generally spent his shifts chasing the puck carrier or looking late to react to plays inside the d-zone.
Keppen’s a good egg, I would have liked to see the Canucks try him out in Kalamazoo, but it’s not worth spilling ink over.
The COVID Outbreak thing
As initially reported by the Province’s Patrick Johnston and later updated by CanucksArmy’s Chris Faber, the Abbotsford Canucks schedule shuffling and game postponements have been because of a significant COVID outbreak. On New Year’s Eve, the team had only six forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie available to play. As of January 5th, the team is still not 100% COVID-free, hence the signings of Cutler and Hirano.
Returning from an 18-day layoff is one thing. Returning from an 18-day layoff that included multiple delays due to COVID is another.
With very few bodies available and a lot of hockey to play over the next five days, the Abbotsford Canucks will be in survival mode during this crucial matchup against a division opponent.
The boys are back in town! 😎
➡️ Brandon Cutler will make his AHL debut tonight after signing a PTO yesterday
➡️ DiPietro makes consecutive starts for the third time this season
➡️ Woo returns to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 11 from injury#AbbyCanucks pic.twitter.com/SXMfPxxy1A
— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) January 7, 2022
- It looks like Nic Petan and Cameron Schilling are the two COVID holdovers from the holiday break.
- Phil Di Giuseppe remains on COVID recall with Vancouver
- Karel Plasek, Chase Wouters, and Jack Rathbone are still working their way back from IR
- Carson Focht slides back to center after a run of games on the wings
- Yushiroh Hirano skated in the pre-game warm-up, but it’s defenceman Alex Kannok Leipert who slots in on the fourth line with the debuting Brandon Cutler.
Tonight’s d-pairings are not very kind by 5v5 CORSI metrics.
Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!
— Raja Shergill (@sher_raja) January 6, 2022
- Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition hosts Harp Pandher, and Raja Shergill are announcing tonight’s game in place of James Cybulski!
- Canucks hemmed in their zone through the opening forty seconds, struggling to control the puck and make a clean breakout. DiPietro gloves down a weak shot to give the Canucks a chance to reset.
- Three minutes deep, and the Canucks have yet to register a shot on goal.
- Abbotsford finally generates a cycle in the offensive zone, where Ashton Sautner’s (#6) shot on goal deflects off a stick. Former Canuck, Adam Cracknell, picks up the rebound and leads the rush for Bakersfield into the Canucks d-zone. Sautner and Noah Juulsen (#47) collide in the neutral zone, but a backchecking Will Lockwood (#10) applies some pressure while Sautner and Juulsen recover.
- Vincent Desharnais heads to the penalty box for high-sticking; Canucks to the game’s first powerplay.
PP1: Brubacher, Rempal, Stevens, Dries, Bailey
- An errant pass to the blue line forces the Canucks to reset from the d-zone. Rough start.
- Bakersfield netminder, Stuart Skinner, rims the puck over Justin Bailey (#95) and past Adam Brubacher (#2) on the blue line. Luke Esposito wheels past Brubacher for a dangerous shorthanded scoring chance on DiPietro, but Esposito puts his backhander wide of the net.
PP2: Lukosevicius, Lockwood, Woo, Arseneau, Klimovich
- Jett Woo (#22) leads the breakout and zone-entry for PP2 but loses possession after driving through three Bakersfield defenders.
- Canucks powerplay ends with a negative CORSI, which is always very good.
- I liked this little reset play from Tristen Nielsen (#84) behind the Canucks net. I did not like the needless giveaway by Alex Kannok Leipert (#41) in the neutral zone.
- Justin Bailey (#95) showing off some ridiculous acceleration from the d-zone.
- After a Bakersfield icing, Jett Woo (#22) shoves Raphael Lavoie into the boards.
- Woo heads to the penalty box for interference to send the CAnucks to their first PK of the game.
PK1: Dries, Lockwood, Sautner, Juulsen
- DiPietro with an early save on Philip Broberg.
- Broberg misses a pass to the blue line, allowing the Canucks to change their forward pairing.
PK2: Rempal, Stevens
- The Canucks catch Bakersfield with two forwards below the goal line and spring Sheldon Rempal (#56) out of the d-zone and up ice for a shorthanded scoring chance on Stuart Skinner.
- Devante Stephens swaps with Noah Juulsen, but Ashton Sautner is caught out for an extended shift on the PK until a deflected shot allows the Canucks to change.
PK3: Bowey, Dries, Lockwood, Juulsen
- Woo leaves the penalty box as Lockwood (#10) is dumped to the ice by Raphael Lavoie.
- Bailey (#95), again, displaying his comically fast feet to generate a shot on Skinner.
- Canucks are controlling well after the penalty kill but are generating nothing in the way of shots on goal.
- A forgettable sequence for head coach Trent Cull featuring some brutal coverage in the d-zone by the fourth line
- Bailey (#95) and John Stevens (#16) work the puck around the half wall to Rempal (#56), who fights off Raphael Lavoie for a wrister on goal.
- With less than three minutes remaining in the opening frame, Sheldon Rempal heads to the penalty box for cross-checking.
PK1: Dries, Lockwood, Juulsen, Sautner
- Sheldon Dries picks up a rebound in the corner and skies it for a Canucks line change.
PK2: Stevens, Bailey, Stephens, Bowey
- Madison Bowey spins to clear the zone, and Luke Esposito misses the puck at the blue line.
- PK2 clears two more times off of quick entries from Bakersfield. An impressive PK to close out the period.
- Carson Focht takes a spin on the PK with Lockwood as the forward duo.
- James Hamblin sauces a pass over Sheldon Dries (#15) stick to Seth Griffith, who wires a shot around Sautner (#6) and off the post.
- Canucks settle the puck, and Sautner clears the zone seconds before Rempal leaves the box.
- Canucks are battling hard, but puck movement was a massive issue through the opening frame.
- Canucks finish the opening frame outshot eight to four.
- An incredible sequence for Vancouver almost produces the first goal of the game. A diving Dmitri Samorukov somehow redirects a shot from Rempal (#56) off Bakersfield’s goal line!
- Brandon Cutler (#48) forces a turnover inside the neutral zone allowing for Alex Kannok Leipert to enter the offensive zone for a shot attempt.
- Bailey (#95) picks up the loose puck in the d-zone and takes off like a rocket into the offensive zone.
- Canucks draw a holding penalty against Matteo Gennaro. Noah Juulsen (#47) launches a bomb on Skinner.
PP1: Rempal, Woo, Stevens, Bailey, Dries
- GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 1-0 Condors: Bakersfield score their third shorty of the season after some pretty weak skating from Jett Woo (#22) on a two-on-one. Luke Esposito leads another shorthanded rush for Bakersfield and dishes a great pass over Bailey (#95) to Philip Kemp for the one-timer shot. DiPietro reaches high, anticipating Kemp’s shot, but he goes a little too high. The puck deflects and trickles inside the left post for the opening goal.
PP2: Bowey, Lukosevicius, Lockwood, Klimovich, Arseneau
- Canucks give up another shorthanded scoring chance; another negative-CORSI powerplay-try from the farm team.
- Samorukov launches a shot off Juulsen’s (#47) skate, handing Cutler (#48) a breakaway drive through center for a shot on GOAL.
- GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 1-1 TIE: The Canucks tie things up at one off a brilliant snipe from the left circle by <checks notes> Madison Bowey (#4)! Canucks start the sequence with a quick-up into the offensive zone where Rempal (#56) and Bailey (#95) connect to draw three Bakersfield skaters to the right side. Bailey (#95) draws in his man and drops for Bowey, who walks back towards the left circle before hitting the perfect shot past Skinner!
- Woo (#22) bowls over Esposito at the d-zone half wall.
- Carson Focht (#19) capitalizes on a turnover inside the offensive zone but skies his backhander over Skinner’s net.
- Woo (#22) lays his stick down to deny a Bakersfield two-on-one rush
- Juulsen (#47) crushes Devin Brosseau with a hit in the neutral zone, then scraps with Dino Kambeitz afterwards.
- Cutler (#48) fights to enter the offensive zone, forces another turnover, and sets up Jarid Lukosevicius (#14) for a shot on goal!
- Focht attempts a bank pass for a Klimovich breakaway, but he goofs the angle and hands Bakersfield an offensive zone faceoff.
- GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 2-1 Condors: A highly questionable pinch at the blue line from Bowey (#4) results in another Bakersfield two-on-one rush chance. Brubacher (#2) clears the path for DiPietro to have a clear sight on the shot and Devin Brosseau still beats him blocker side. A brutal pinch from Bowey, but DiPietro should have had that.
- Dries (#15) throws a breakout pass into Lockwood’s (#10) skates. Lockwood misses the pass, and Brosseau capitalizes for a quick shot off of the snapping glove of DiPietro.
- Devante Stephens attempts to chip the puck out of the zone off of a d-zone faceoff but throws it straight over the glass.
- Canucks to their third PK of the game
PK1: Bailey, Stevens, Sautner, Juulsen
- Cooper Marody banks a pass off of the end boards to Seth Griffith for the sharp angle shot on DiPietro.
PK2: Dries, Lockwood,
- A long shift for Sautner and Juulsen to start the PK before Bowey and Woo hop on the ice after a clearance.
PK3: Nielsen, Rempal, Woo, Bowey
- Clearance by Tristen Nielsen
- Rempal hits Stephens as he’s leaving the box to avoid the icing. Smart clear after a long shift for the Canucks penalty killers.
- Brubacher (#2) sets up Bowey (#4) for a one-timer, then picks up the rebound for a shot on Skinner.
- Bailey (#95) splits the D for a shot on Skinner!
- GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 3-1 Condors: Another baffling misplay with the puck leads to another goal from Bakersfield. Lockwood (#10), under pressure at the Canucks blue line, drops the puck back to Juulsen (#47), who promptly throws his breakout pass into the skates of Cooper Marody. Marody leads a two-on-none and sets up Seth Griffith for the backhander goal. Tough one for DiPietro as he barely clips the shot, but Griffith’s second attempt knocks the puck into the net.
- Canucks rattle off ten shots on goal but still trail Bakersfield twenty-one to fourteen after forty minutes.
- Adam Cracknell with a breakaway chance seventeen seconds into the period.
- Canucks are fumbling possession in the d-zone, and Rempal takes a high-sticking penalty that puts the Canucks on their fourth PK of the game.
PK1: Dries, Sautner, Juulsen, Lockwood
- GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 4-1 Condors: Yeesh. Can’t fault anyone but the goalie on this one. Five-hole.
- Good lord, Luke Esposito catches Focht (#19) with his head down in the neutral zone and absolutely demolishes him.
- Focht down for some time and is cut on the play
- Esposito gets five and a game for the hit
- Canucks have a five-minute powerplay to work, but their powerplay has been atrocious tonight. So, I’m not expecting much.
- Adam Cracknell tees up a shorthanded one-timer.
- Canucks five-minute powerplay generates two shots on goal.
- GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 5-1 Condors: Mikey, bb, what is u doin? Ostap Safin circles to center ice after the Canucks lose a d-zone faceoff and slips a softie through DiPietro’s five-hole.
- Arseneau takes a roughing penalty after trying to goad Dino Kambeitz into a fight.
- Canucks to their sixth PK
- GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 6-1 Condors: lol, I mean, this is just getting ridiculous at this point. Ostap Safin throws a puck into DiPietro’s crease, and it deflects off Juulsen’s (#47) stick, bounces off of Tim Schaller (yes, that Tim Schaller), and over DiPietro’s shoulder into the net.
- The physicality ramped up significantly in this one. Canucks are generating nothing offensively, but boy, are they finishing those checks!
- GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 6-2 Condors: Sheldon Rempal with a pretty stellar solo effort to score shorthanded for Abbotsford. Michael Kesselring loses his footing while skating backwards through the neutral zone, and a tired Rempal (#56) capitalizes for the drive on goal.
- Arseneau (#18), with a late turnover inside the d-zone
- Canucks generate three total shots on goal over the final eleven minutes.
- They finish the game outshot twenty-eight to nineteen.
Bakersfield Condors def. Abbotsford Canucks 6-2
- Look, the Canucks were coming off of a giant 18-day layoff, a COVID outbreak, and the general lethargy that surrounds the holidays. The Condors came into tonight the fresher squad, having played twice this year already! It was reasonable to expect a rough outing, but this was bad. Like, really bad hockey from the farm team.
- Breakout passes
- Puck management
- Simple passes
- Shooting accuracy
- Three of the six goals against
- D-zone assignments
- Two of the six goals against
- The hit on Carson Focht
- Brandon Cutler looked solid in his AHL debut, one of the few guys who consistently created turnovers and chances for his line at 5v5
- Sheldon Rempal’s shorthanded goal
- One of the goals against was a classic, “bad bounces” goal
- Travis Green showing up in the crowd
Fingers crossed that tonight’s game shook off the cobwebs, and the team comes out with a better performance tomorrow.
Cody’s Three Stars
- The fans who drove in this shit weather to watch this shitty performance
- [information missing]
- Sheldon Rempal? I guess?
HM: Brandon Cutler
Next Up on the Docket
January 6th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield
January 7th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield
January 9th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield
January 10th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield
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