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Inside Travis Hamonic’s surprise return to game action on Saturday night with the Abbotsford Canucks

After returning to the organization on Wednesday, Travis Hamonic didn’t waste much time before drawing into AHL action.

In what caught many by surprise, Hamonic suited up for his first game of the 2021-22 season on Saturday night when the Abbotsford Canucks hosted the Ontario Reign.

Hamonic was used on both special teams’ units and was paired up with Ashton Sautner on the team’s top five-on-five pairing.

The high amount of minutes weren’t too much for Hamonic, but even adding an 11-year NHL defenceman couldn’t help the AHL Canucks keep the Reign’s power play off the scoreboard.

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Hamonic was on the ice for both of the Reign’s power play goals in the first period.

After being on the ice for two power play goals against, Hamonic really settled into the game and made a good play with the puck to set up Phil Di Giuseppe’s power play goal early in the second period.

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Hamonic only had one practice and two morning skates with the Abbotsford Canucks before drawing into game action but it seems like he must have been keeping in game shape. He was asked to play a lot of minutes on Saturday night and looked good throughout the game. The Abbotsford players were more than happy to add a quality defenceman like Hamonic to their roster.

“He fits in great with the group, said Sheldon Dries during post-game media availability. “He’s an awesome guy. He’s a veteran presence back there and was huge for us tonight.”

Dries scored three goals over the two games on the weekend. He wasn’t the only one who was impressed by Hamonic. We spoke with Abbotsford media star Jarid Lukosevicius post-game and he thought Hamonic looked great on Saturday night.

“You can just tell that he’s a 10-year veteran,” said Lukosevicius. “He just has poise, lots of poise. He’s a good steady defenceman and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.“

Having Hamonic be thrown into the lineup after just one practice and a couple of game-day morning skates feels like it was a bit rushed but Cull said that it was Hamonic who wanted to get into game action more than anyone.

“I don’t think there’s anyone rushing him,” said Cull when asked if the organization wanted to see him in game-action as soon as possible. “He wanted to play on Friday. We’re just trying to be cautious and not play him in a back-to-back. He came in and played really well for us and he’s been great at practice. We’re so lucky in a way to have an 11-year NHL defenseman come in and be around our team. He’s a darn good hockey player. We’re a little bit banged up from Friday night, so I thought getting him in tonight was the right fit.”

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The Abbotsford Canucks were severely outplayed on Friday night in a 5-2 loss but looked much better on Saturday.

They controlled the pace of play throughout the game but were burned by the two power play goals against in the first period.

After two weekends at home, the Abbotsford Canucks travel to Stockton to face the Heat this weekend before returning home the following week to host the San Jose Barracuda.

As for Hamonic, he is not being made available for media in Abbotsford. From my gatherings, it sounds like his first media availability will be soon and could end up being in Vancouver with all of the local media being invited.

For now, even if we can watch him practice and play, we won’t hear from him out in Abbotsford.

The good news is that Hamonic is back in game-action and that is a step in the right direction for him to make his eventual return to the Vancouver Canucks and the NHL.

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General manager Jim Benning told Patrick Johnston of The Province that “we’ll see where’s he at after the game tonight,” when asked about a potential timeline for Hamonic’s return to the big club.