With an influx of fresh bodies and young talent, the Abbotsford Canucks sought to rebound from their disheartening shutout loss to the Henderson Silver Knights.
And rebound they did!
For the ninth time this season, the Abbotsford Canucks dominated at home with a thrilling 6-2 victory over their Pacific Division rival.
Tonight’s Farmies breaks away from its usual play-by-play recap format. Instead, this edition focuses on several of Abbotsford’s new additions and key figures in Vancouver’s future!
Let’s see how they did!
For those wondering, Jack Rathbone and Jett Woo were not healthy scratches, just a little dinged up, according to play-by-play broadcaster Brandon Astle.
Vincent Arseneau also sat out due to a nagging injury.
Yushiroh Hirano, Michael Regush, Quinn Schmiemann, Alex Kannok Leipert, Matt Alfaro, and Marc Gatcomb were the healthy scratches for Abbotsford.
Unsurprisingly, Nils Höglander nearly scored on his first AHL shift. After generating the Canucks first run of offensive zone time, Linus Karlsson connected with a brilliant no-look drop-pass to Höglander from behind the goal line for the first shot of the game.
Midway through the first, Höglander picked the pocket of Andrew Aggozino in the high slot of the offensive zone, drawing a tripping minor to give the Canucks their first power play of the game.
It was a pretty soft call. Considering Aggozzino did not touch him.
Höglander featured on the first power play unit, but Christian Wolanin took a tripping penalty of his own to negate the man advantage.
Fortunately, the Abbotsford Canucks were able to capitalize on the 4-on-4, with John Stevens picking up his sixth goal of the season!
Abbotsford Canucks goal: 2-0 Canucks
John Stevens from Phil Di Giuseppe
To cap the first period of his AHL debut, Höglander showed off his hands, attempting to go through the legs for a shot on goal on the Canucks’ late power play opportunity.
The second period didn’t start as hot for the Höglander, Nielsen, and Karlsson as the Barracuda hemmed the trio inside the d-zone for nearly two minutes of sustained pressure.
Fortunately, Karlsson was able to bail out the absolutely gassed Höglander with a controlled solo rush exit and dump-in from centre ice.
On his first shift of the third period, Höglander attempted the Michigan.
Now, we’re not saying it’s because Höglander is wearing jersey number 36 that he flexed his offensive creativity.
But that’s also exactly what we’re saying.
Number 21 is cursed, Nils.
Höglander finished the game with zero points, but not for lack of trying.
He was solid, dominating with his NHL-caliber tenaciousness while mixing in the flashy creative offensive plays that have been sorely missed from his NHL tenure this season.
The Swedish connection of Karlsson and Höglander showed instant chemistry in the first. On their second shift together, Karlsson forced a turnover as the F1 before setting up Tristen Nielsen for a toe-drag scoring attempt from the slot.
Seconds later, Karlsson’s forechecking effort drew a second high-danger scoring chance for Höglander.
Midway through the first, the Canucks found themselves on the PK off a Lockwood roughing minor, and Karlsson took reps as the second-shift PK forward duo.
Even spicier was Jeremy Colliton assigning Arshdeep Bains reps on the third PK shift ahead of Vasily Podkolzin!
Following another long shift for the Höglander, Karlsson, and Nielsen trio, the Canucks found themselves back on the power play after a breakaway chance from Karlsson drew a tripping penalty.
The Canucks power play finally connected on Karlsson’s drawn power play opportunity, with Justin Dowling rebounding a shot off of a Barracuda defenceman tied up with Nielsen at the goalmouth.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 3-1 Canucks
Justin Dowling from Christian Wolanin and Tristen Nielsen
Early into the third period, Karlsson did not try the Michigan from behind Dell’s net. But he did set up Höglander with a terrific pass for a scoring chance.
Karlsson, Höglander, and Nielsen started to look like a Vancouver Canucks forward line, turning a run of sustained time spent in the d-zone into a crisp exit and a flashy zone entry.
While the trio failed to score any points at 5v5, they were aggressive, fun, flashy, and confident with the puck. Even though they were caught flatfooted inside the d-zone a few too many times, they were solid.
Karlsson finished the game with zero points and zero shots on goal. He was consistently Mr. Reliable with the puck and without as a dominant turnover-generating machine, highlighted by his forechecking work inside the offensive zone.
Danila Klimovich’s strong run of play continued with his first shift of the game. However, he did have moments during the first period where he looked like the Klimovich of old.
First, the positive. After benefitting from a neutral-zone giveaway, Klimovich quickly raced into the offensive zone and battled along the boards to fish the puck back to the blue line before working his way toward the net for a high-danger scoring chance.
On his second shift, Klimovich looked closer to the Klimovich of the first five games rather than the Klimovich of the last five. After losing a battle to Thomas Bordeleau inside the Barracuda’s zone, Klimovich appeared to give up on the play, dragging his feet before making a lazy check at the neutral zone before a line change.
On Klim’s third shift, he again did a 180, backchecking hard into the d-zone, breaking up a shot attempt from Jasper Weatherby, and working to break the puck out for a zone entry.
With less than two minutes in the game, Klimovich drew a slashing penalty against Nick Cicek after racing end-to-end to catch a rink wide exit pass from Arshdeep Bains.
The Canucks’ power play was unable to capitalize for the second time in the period. The Farm’s early forechecking pressure and patient passing gave the Barracuda trouble.
Unfortunately for Klimovich, it was another night with sparing shifts due to the constant power play opportunities granted to the Canucks. The Barracuda lived up to their reputation as the second-most penalized team in the AHL, taking four penalties in the first two periods alone!
During the third period, Klimovich only saw a few shifts as Colliton leaned heavily on his top-six to close out the late press of the Barracuda.
Podkolzin’s night started with a bit of time spent in the d-zone, but he showed off tremendous patience under pressure to safely break the puck out of the d-zone with control.
Moments later, his patience was again on display after a d-zone turnover from the defence forced another Podkolzin-led zone exit.
Late in the first, Podkolzin’s presence on the forecheck led to a glorious scoring chance for John Stevens!
After starting the period on the power play, Podkolzin continued to be a force at 5v5, using his feet to cut wide down the right wing for a drive on Aaron Dell for a backhand shot on goal.
After chasing Kalynuk’s rebound into the half-wall, John Stevens drew a hooking penalty against Nick Cicek to give their fourth power play opportunity of the night.
While not as crisp as Bo Horvat, Will Lockwood made it 4-1 with a one-timer from the slot.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 4-1 Canucks
Will Lockwood from Tristen Nielsen and Christian Wolanin
Following Lockwood’s goal, Podkolzin was immediately back on the ice, showing off his poise with the puck with a casual drop-pass to Noah Juulsen for a one-timer on Aaron Dell.
Podkolzin and Höglander drew the final shift of the second period, where they put the Barracuda to work with strong puck protection along the wall inside the offensive zone.
On Podkolzin’s second shift of the period, John Stevens forced a turnover inside the d-zone, springing Phil Di Giuseppe on a breakaway to give the Canucks a 5-1 lead.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 5-1 Canucks
Phil Di Giuseppe unasssisted
Di Giuseppe’s tally was the ninth for Abbotsford scored with Podkolzin on the ice at 5v5 through ten AHL games.
The Canucks were thoroughly in cruise control midway through the period, with each line taking turns dominating the Barracuda off the rush, off the cycle, from the d-zone, neutral zone, to the offensive zone. The Canucks exposed the Barracuda’s porous defensive coverage, later resulting in Lockwood’s solo effort to set up Kyle Rau for his second goal of the night.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 6-1 Canucks
Kyle Rau from Will Lockwood and Justin Dowling
Podkolzin finished the game with zero points on 2 shots. However, he was a reliable two-way piece that created plenty for his teammates against the Barracuda’s top lines.
Travis Dermott had a quiet few shifts in the first five minutes of his Abbotsford Canucks debut. While nothing about his game stood out as flashy, it was an outstanding workmanlike performance.
A patient dump-in from Dermott sprung the team’s third significant offensive zone cycle and the eventual first goal of the game!
Unsurprisingly, Will Lockwood was the first man into the zone and on the puck to retrieve Dermott’s dump-in. The Canucks quick cycle and a fortunate rebound off the end boards gave Kyle Rau his sixth goal of the season.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 1-0 Canucks
Kyle Rau from Justin Dowling and Christian Wolanin
Dermott had a high goal presence in his Abbotsford debut. After losing an offensive zone draw, the Canucks Dowling, Lockwood, and Rau trio faced a Barracuda rush, giving up a rebound off the end boards for a goal that was a near carbon copy of Kyle Rau’s game-opening tally.
San Jose Barracuda Goal: 2-1 Canucks
Andrew Agozzino from Patrick Sieloff and William Eklund
The same rebound off a one-timer assist from the same spot, both with Travis Dermott on the ice. I mean, that’s just weird, right?
Late in the period, Dermott featured on the Canucks’ penalty kill on a pairing with Kalynuk, helping hold the Barracuda to just a single shot on goal.
Dermott was strong throughout the third period, looking like he hadn’t missed most of training camp and two months of hockey with concussion issues. Dermott’s patience with the puck, skating, and passing stood out on every shift, rarely making the wrong decision with the puck.
It was an excellent start for a defenceman trying to catch up on lost time!
Abbotsford Canucks defeat the San Jose Barracuda 6-2
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
- Phil Di Giuseppe
- Kyle Rau
- Will Lockwood
Honourable Mention: all of the players we focused on that conveniently combined for only one point.
Next Up on the Docket
The Abbotsford Canucks look to make it two straight victories when they run it back Wednesday night once more against the Barracuda.