After going over five weeks without playing in a hockey game, Jack Rathbone returned to the Abbotsford Canucks’ lineup on Friday night. Rathbone battled what was likely an upper-body injury, and what we believe was a shoulder injury.
It didn’t take long for Abbotsford to gain a lead as Rathbone was on the ice for an early Abby goal as Phil Di Giuseppe broke the scoreless tie on Rathbone’s second shift. The only assist went to Noah Juulsen on the play but it was a good start for the Abby Canucks after a tough last week.
Rathbone continued to be involved in scoring chances early on as Will Lockwood forced a turnover and Rathbone was robbed by the glove on a wrist shot from in tight.
The first period didn’t end well for Rathbone as he and his defence partner Juulsen struggled in their zone. Both players had multiple turnovers in the second half of the first period. Those turnovers extended the Gulls’ time in Abbotsford’s zone but luckily they were able to recover enough to limit the high-quality scoring chances.
When it came to special teams, Rathbone spent time on both the power play and the penalty kill on Friday night. He was the point man on the first power play unit while Jett Woo surprised us a bit as he was the point man on the second unit.
After some sloppy play in the second half of the first period, Rathbone locked it in for the final 40 minutes of play. The puck-moving defenceman helped move the puck through the neutral zone with his strong passes. He also carried the puck up ice with confidence in his return to play.
On top of the strong play through the neutral zone, Rathbone found his defensive play in the final 40 minutes and specifically the third period. He was strong with his stick on pucks and was disrupting both passing and shooting lanes throughout the period.
Here’s an example of Rathbone defending a shift well and then quickly repositioning to take away an easy tap-in goal for the Gulls.
It was great to see Rathbone back in action and there is a lot more to come with the Abbotsford Canucks playing on Saturday night and then again on Monday evening.
Rathbone is going to get many more minutes and will have plenty of ice time after this weekend.
There were some other notes from Friday night’s game that are worth mentioning.
Mikey DiPietro was good in the crease as he wasn’t tested with a ton of scoring chances. He faced 24 shots and made 23 saves on the night. None of his saves were as nice as this sliding save against a two-on-one.
DiPietro’s strong play was the icing on the cake and then the teenager put the cherry on top.
19-year-old Danila Klimovich scored on a wicked wrist shot late in the game to give the Canucks a 5-1 lead in the game.
Klimovich has struggled with consistency but has three points in two games against the San Diego Gulls this season. He will look to build on his recent success as the weekend continues.
The Abbotsford Canucks are back in action on Saturday at 7 pm and the game is available for free on AHLTV as a part of their free preview weekend.
We are expecting to see Arty Silovs get the start on Saturday and then whichever goalie plays the best will likely earn the Monday start as the team will travel up California to face the Ontario Reign for a 3 pm start.