Thanks you fans! Abbotsford Canucks

Barracuda Bite Canucks, Lose in Shootout

Abbotsford, BC - The San Jose Barracuda came out on top Sunday evening against the Abbotsford Canucks, winning 3-2 in a shootout to split the weekend series at Abbotsford Centre. Injuries for the Canucks played a large role in the outcome, as the club entered the game without offensive threats Nic Petan and Sheldon Dries. Regardless, it was a gutsy effort from Abby to grab a point in the loss.

Despite neither team cracking the score column in the opening frame, there was plenty of drama to go around. Following a Mikey DiPietro save, Vincent Arseneau took itupon himself to clear the front of the net. Vinny caught Joel Kellman with his left elbow and sent the young centre flying. The collision was violent and Kellman appeared to be unconscious before hitting the ice in awkward fashion. Kellman was down on the ice for quite some time, not moving before he was wheeled out on a stretcher. Areneau was handed a 10-minute game misconduct for the hit.

The home side managed to keep the Barracuda off the board thanks to the impeccable play of their goaltender. Shortly after the San Jose powerplay began, Chase Wouters lofted a puck over the glass to give the visitors a two-man advantage. DiPietro came up large, making multiple sprawling saves with and without his stick to keep the puck out of the net. The Canucks clamped down as a team and killed off both penalties to keep it a scoreless game.

Abbotsford opened the scoring early in the second period when Will Lockwood forced a turnover and fed a streaking Wouters in front of the net. Wouters slapped it past Barracuda goalie, Alexi Melnichuk, to make it 1-0 for the Canucks. The marker was the first of the season for the former Saskatoon Blade star and his first career goal in the American Hockey League.

“It feels good to get the first one,” said Wouters on getting his first AHL goal. “Lockwood is quite as you know, he got on the forecheck and made a great play getting the turnover. His pass was perfect and was pretty much a tap in for me.”

“Chase is a reliable hockey player,” said Head coach Trent Cull on the play of Wouters tonight. “What I mean by that is that he is good defensively, he’s playing against other teams’ top two or three lines, so he makes it easier for me to give him more ice time.”

The lead unfortunately did not last long however, as the Barracuda knotted the game at 1 just over a minute late. Evan Weinger snuck it past Dipietro to score his second goal of the season. Zachary Gallant assisted on the play.

We couldn’t escape the frame without a tilt as tensions continued to rise between these two division rivals. Canucks’ rookie Alex Kannok Leipert answered the bell following a big hit on Gallant in front of the two benches. Kannok Leipert and Gallant squared off, with both guys getting in some big swings before the Abby rookie took Gallant to the ground for the win.

“You’re going to see a little bit of that,” said Cull when asked about the intensity of the game tonight. “We have these back-to-back scenarios, teams come in and battle. Wouldn’t expecta anything less from them. It was a bit of a fierce battle.

The fight seemed to spark the Canucks as they took the lead shortly thereafter. Jarid Lukosevicius planted himself in front of the cage and banged home a rebound from a Cameron Schilling point shot to give Abbotsford a 2-1 lead. The goal was Jarid’s second of the season. Wouters assisted on the goal to give him two points for the night.

The score remained unchanged until Noah Gregor tied the game at the 7:47 mark of the third period. Ryan Merkley and Jaycob Megna assisted on the goal. The marker was Gregor’s fourth of the season which ties him for the San Jose lead in goals.

60 minutes was not enough to decide this one as it went to the extra frame. Overtime yielded no winner either and this game went to a shootout. Neither team was able to get one past the other’s goalie in the opening four rounds, but Sasha Chmelevski beat Mikey DiPietro with a slick move in the fifth round of the shootout. Tristen Nielsen was unable to answer for Abby and San Jose exited victorious.

“I liked how we were playing,” said Cull postgame on his team’s overall play tonight. “I liked that we were heading in 2-1 in the third. We dealt with a lot of adversity tonight with penalties and losing multiple guys out of the lineup. But overall, I’m happy with the group.”

Mikey DiPietro was a bright spot for the home side tonight. The 23-year-old goaltender stopped 38 of the 40 shots he faced as the Canucks picked up a point in the shootout defeat. DiPietro had a very solid weekend for the Canucks, setting aside 66 of the 69 shots he faced through two games against the Barracuda.

"Mikey was awesome tonight," said Wouters on DiPietro's performance tonight. "Everyone here loves him as a guy and loves him as a player. He's our backbone and he's there for us when we need him to bail us out. He is a great teammate and he deserves all the success he has had."

The Abbotsford Canucks (4-4-2-1) will return to action this Friday at Abbotsford Centre when they host the Bakersfield Condors (6-4-1-1) at Abbotsford Centre. It will be the first flight to Abbotsford this season for the Condors, as the only other meeting this season between these two squads came last month in California. Both teams are battling for positioning in the Pacific Division, so next weekend should be fun to watch.