The good vibes are rolling throughout the Canucks organization.
Vancouver and Abbotsford kicked off a spooktacular Halloween weekend with their most impressive two-way performance of the season on the same night!
Will Lockwood’s offensive game, Linus Karlsson’s point-per-game-plus pace, Brady Keeper’s toughness, and Jett Woo’s crushing hit; the Abbotsford Canucks delivered it all in a thrilling home opener debut.
Let’s get into the action!
The good news began right off the hop, with Vincent Arseneau’s return to the lineup after a scary head-first collision during the Canucks’ Friday night victory against the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
Michael Regush remained out of action due to a concussion, and sliding into his place in the starting lineup was newly signed Kyle Rau, who would immediately make his presence known.
More on that later!
The game began with the Canucks facing down a heavy shift from the Gulls’ first line inside the d-zone. But it wasn’t long before the Abbotsford Canucks could open the scoring.
Abbotsford Canucks goal: 1-0 Canucks
John Stevens from Danila Klimovich and Arshdeep Bains
After Quinn Schmiemann lost an edge while pressuring on the forecheck, Danila Klimovich collapsed along the half-wall to pick up Schmiemann’s lost puck. Klimovich got the puck below the goal line to Arshdeep Bains, who returned with a nasty no-look backhand pass to Klimovich. Klim’s initial shot snuck its way under Lukas Dostal’s pads, but fortunately, John Stevens was ready to capitalize on the loose puck for the easy tap-in goal.
The Canucks’ pressure would not relent, with the first line hammering the Gulls with shot attempts for a full two minutes. Though he couldn’t thread a shot through traffic, Jett Woo utilized his skating to find open space in the slot for two decent shot attempts.
Linus Karlsson kept his point streak going with an absolutely filthy saucer pass to newcomer Kyle Rau for his first as a Canuck.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 2-0 Canucks
Kyle Rau from Linus Karlsson and Christian Wolanin
Rau’s first as a Canuck began with a solid d-zone exit from Brady Keeper. Keeper’s outlet pass to Christian Wolanin at the Canucks’ blue line helped draw three Gulls skaters to the left wing, allowing Rau to slip through the center to receive Karlsson’s filthy pass.
Two minutes later, Karlsson’s strong night continued after drawing an interference penalty against San Diego’s Axel Andersson.
PP1: Nielsen, Bains, Hirano, Lockwood, Wolanin
Lockwood has featured heavily on the Canucks’ PK as a second-rotation forward and mainly on power play two in the Bo Horvat spot.
We haven’t seen Lockwood utilize his one-timer that often in the Canucks blue and white, but he tested Dostal midway through the power play with a heater of a one-timer set up by Tristen Nielsen.
The Farm’s first power play unit spent just over a minute and a half inside the Gulls’ zone, culminating in a massive block by San Diego’s Austin Strand on a one-timer from Yushiroh Hirano.
At 5v5, Arshdeep Bains continued to dish clean passes to his linemates. After another successful zone exit spread the Gulls thin, Bains threaded a picture-perfect pass to Alex Kannok Leipert for a grade-A scoring chance.
After scoring in his debut, Bains’ had not done much offensively to stick out. Maybe it was the hometown crowd coming through, but Bains’ looked infinitely more comfortable through the game’s opening twenty minutes. He was aggressive along the boards and seemed quite comfortable threading some incredible high-danger passes to his linemates.
After nearly thirteen minutes, the best Gulls chance came off a one-timer shot that ricocheted off Dellia’s crossbar and wide.
The Canucks would pounce on the loose puck to generate more sustained zone time in the Gulls’ end, leading to Lockwood’s first goal of the season.
Abbotsford Canucks goal: 3-0 Canucks
Will Lockwood from Christian Wolanin and Phil Di Giuseppe
Christian Wolanin must have read our Gulls’ weekend preview that lamented Abbotsford’s lack of production from the blue line, as he notched himself two assists before the fifteen-minute mark of the opening frame.
Late in the period, Kannok Leipert put the Farm on its first PK of the night after being caught with his stick a little high on a Gulls defender’s face.
“Ya can’t do that!”
PK1: Dowling, Wouters, Kalynuk, Wolanin
PK2: Lockwood, Di Giuseppe, Keeper, Wolanin (double-shifted)
The Gulls’ penalty kill was, as they say, “not it, chief.” The Gulls generated just two shots on goal over two minutes.
Less than a minute after the Farm’s first successful PK, Kyle Rau would find the back of the net for his second of the period!
Abbotsford Canucks goal: 4-0 Canucks
Kyle Rau from Justin Dowling and Linus Karlsson
For the third time in the period, the Farm punished the visitors off the rush. Karlsson picked up his second point of the night with a clean pass to Justin Dowling in the slot. Though Karlsson’s pass wasn’t exactly tape to tape, Dowling brilliantly played the puck off his skate to drop a no-look pass to Kyle Rau at the netfront for the tap-in goal.
To quote Chris Faber, “the boys were BUZZIN!”
The second frame kicked off with a solid shift from the rookie, Karlsson, who showed excellently along the half-wall while working to gain the puck inside the offensive zone.
While he eventually lost the puck when a second Gulls’ defender stepped in to strip him of possession, the individual work rate along the wall did not go unnoticed. Karlsson has clearly shown he can produce well at the AHL level but needs to refine the little details of his game, and moments such as this help his chances of earning NHL opportunities down the road.
Early into the period, Wyatt Kalynuk and San Diego’s Jacob Perreault went to the box for offsetting roughing minors.
During the 4-on-4, fans glimpsed two different defenceman approaches to offence.
Jett Woo showed off his skating with a chip-and-chase effort early into the 4-on-4 but almost immediately threw away his opportunity with a blind backhand pass to no one.
Seconds later, Brady Keeper entered the offensive zone off a rush led by John Stevens. After losing his shooting lane, rather than wasting the opportunity, he calmly skated around the net to create an opening for Nielsen at the net front.
Neither play resulted in a goal for Abbotsford, but the patient approach led to a significantly more dangerous opportunity for the team.
Bains’ continued his strong run of play with a flash of defensive acumen that fans had not seen from him since his play at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton over the summer.
On his second shift of the second period, Bains’ collapsed towards the net to deny the defenceman a shooting lane, then raced back to block a shot.
Woo’s middle frame was slightly forgettable. After a risky offensive-zone pinch, the Gulls mustered a near two-on-zero rush against Delia. Fortunately, Kalynuk could get on his horse to break up the developing play.
The Canucks nearly made it a five-nothing game after Hirano’s chip-and-chase to Nielsen at the Gulls’ blue line caught them completely unaware.
Relief netminder Olle Eriksson Ek (incredible hockey name, by the way) made an astonishing reaching save to stone Phil Di Giuseppe’s one-timer chance.
With his impressive play, Bains nearly scored his second of the season off a juicy give-and-go play with Kalynuk.
We’re still not sure how he whiffed on this glorious scoring opportunity.
The good times wouldn’t last forever, as the Gulls’ Axel Andersson would finally get San Diego on the board with a gorgeous wrist shot through multiple bodies.
San Diego Gulls goal: 4-1 Canucks
Axel Andersson from Benoit-Olivier Groulx
Groulx’s goal was just the second faced by Delia in the second period.
There was not much he could do to stop this one with such a crowded crease.
The Canucks would get into more penalty trouble midway through the second, with Kannok Leipert taking his second penalty of the night.
Fortunately, Will Lockwood came up huge for Abbotsford shorthanded to score his second goal of the night!
Abbotsford Canucks goal: 5-1 Canucks
Will Lockwood unassisted
In a play that some would describe as “regrettable,” San Diego’s Danny O’Regan overskates the puck while dropping low toward the left circle. The gaffe allowed Lockwood to quickly pick up the loose puck for an end-to-end skate and a beautiful wrist shot finish.
After scoring the most “AHL goal of all time,” the Farm gave up the most “Canucks goal of all time.”
San Diego Gulls goal: 5-2 Canucks
Austin Strand from Benoit-Olivier Groulx
A long blast from Austin Strand at the point rose high and clipped Brady Keeper in the face, deflecting the puck over Delia’s left shoulder to put the Gulls’ within two.
The game was delayed for a few minutes while the ice crews cleared up the blood. Fortunately, Keeper skated himself off the ice and down the tunnel, where he received immediate medical assistance to stop the bleeding.
Over the final ten minutes of the period, the Canucks generated just two shots on goal, including Lockwood’s shorthanded goal.
After two periods, the Farm still held the shot advantage of eighteen to the Gulls’ fourteen.
The Farm’s third period started with good news: Brady Keeper taking an early shift without missing a beat!
Three minutes into the period, the Canucks ran into more penalty trouble, with Jett Woo taking a holding penalty and Christian Wolanin taking a puck over the glass immediately off the PK faceoff draw.
PK1: Stevens, Keeper, Dowling
Delia stood his ground early into the two-man advantage, making a calm glove save on veteran forward Rocco Grimaldi.
Unfortunately, the Gulls would capitalize off the next faceoff draw, with Danny O’Regan making up for his earlier power play blunder with a gorgeous saucer pass to Brayden Tracey for the mid-air tap-in.
San Diego Gulls goal: 5-3 Canucks
Brayden Tracey from Danny O’Regan and Rocco Grimaldi
The early capitalization on the two-man advantage left the Gulls with another minute and a half remaining to work with a standard 5-on-4 power play.
The Canucks penalty kill would come up huge once again, with Abbotsford holding San Diego to zero shots on the ensuing power play opportunity.
Midway through the period, the Canucks began to stifle the Gulls’ ability to generate an offensive zone cycle. The Canucks were stretching the ice with crisp cross-ice passes, dumping the puck, and simply outworking the Gulls on every loose puck.
Though he didn’t have a great game by any stretch, Jett Woo quickly earned an honourable mention in Canucks Army’s three stars with his colossal bodying of Jacob Perrault on a breakaway scoring chance.
The monstrous hit directly led to an end-to-end rush for his partner, Wyatt Kalynuk, for the perfect cross-ice setup for Justin Dowling’s second of the season.
Abbotsford Canucks goal: 6-3 Canucks
Justin Dowling from Wyatt Kalynuk and Jett Woo
Minutes later, Brady Keeper would take immediate exception to a hard hit from Josh Healey on Chase Wouters.
Just a casual reminder that Keeper engaged in a scrap with Healey despite having just had his head sliced open by an earlier shot to the dome.
The Canucks would head to the power play after assessing Healey with a roughing minor, though the Canucks would only manage one shot on goal from Hirano.
Hirano would follow up his shot on goal by drawing a second penalty against the Gulls’ Benoit-Olivier Groulx to continue the Farm’s man advantage.
This time, the power play would find success. Alone at the net front, Karlsson would receive a pass from Dowling at the left circle and casually go between the legs for his third point of the night.
Abbotsford Canucks goal: 7-3 goal
Linus Karlsson from Justin Dowling and Wyatt Kalynuk
The Canucks would head to the penalty kill soon after, with Chase Wouters taking a minor penalty for interference with six minutes left in the game.
The Canucks would hold the Gulls to two shots on goal while Lockwood searched for his second shorthanded goal of the night. After breaking up a zone entry, Lockwood and Karlsson sprung for a shorthanded try, only for Karlsson’s pass to end up just out of Lockwood’s reach.
Wyatt Kalynuk continued his strong game into the dying minutes of the period by drawing a holding penalty against Hunter Drew to send the Canucks to their fourth power play.
While they couldn’t score goal number eight, they dominated the Gulls throughout, outshooting them thirty to twenty after sixty minutes. Tonight was a comprehensive dismantling of a Division rival that easily stands as Abbotsford’s best two-way performance of the season to date.
Abbotsford Canucks defeat the San Diego Gulls 7-3
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
- Linus Karlsson – 1G 2A +3
- Will Lockwood – 2G 0A +2
- Justin Dowling – 1G 2A +3
Honourable Mention: Jett Woo for that gigantic hit/assist combo.
Next Up on the Docket
The Abbotsford Canucks run it back against the Gulls tomorrow night at the Abbotsford Centre starting at 7:00 PM PST.