CANUCKS FALL SHORT IN COMEBACK ATTEMPT IN STOCKTON
The Stockton Heat burned the Abbotsford Canucks on Friday night, winning 3-2 to extend their point streak to seven games. The score was close but Stockton controlled the pace of play for much of the night and generated the better scoring chances overall. Stockton piled up 36 shots on net and the Canucks fired 30 shots on net.
The Heat opened the scoring at the 11:44 mark of the first period. Andy Wellinski's point shot was easily turned aside by Canucks' net minder, Michael DiPietro, but Byron Froese buried the rebound to give the home side an early 1-0 advantage. The goal was the 100th of the Heat captain's career.
Stockton added to their lead in the second period thanks to a Glen Gawdin goal just under six minutes into the frame. Eetu Tuulola, owner of arguably the best name in the AHL, assisted on the goal to give the Heat a 2-0 lead over the Canucks.
Cameron Schilling got the Canucks on the board at the 13:16 mark of the second period. The veteran defender connected on a one-timer, blasting it past Heat goalie Dustin Wolf to shrink the Stockton lead to a single goal. The goal was Schilling's first as a member of the Abbotsford Canucks. Carson Focht set the goal up by providing Schilling with a beautiful pass that landed perfectly on his tape.
The Heat added to their lead in the final period, putting the game out of reach with 5:44 left in the third period following an Adam Ruzicka goal. Ruzicka deflected a Matthew Phillips pass, beating DiPietro high on the blocker side to make it a 3-1 game. Despite a late goal from John Stevens to make it a 3-2 game, the Canucks were unable to complete the comeback on Friday night.
The result was not what the Abby Canucks were hoping for but there were some positives to take away from the game. Michael DiPietro saw his first game action in nearly two weeks tonight and fared nicely in his return. The 22-year-old Windsor, ON product recored 33 saves on 36 shots, good for a .917 save percentage. Mikey kept the Canucks in the game tonight, as they struggled to get going offensively during the first two periods.
Another bright spot was the play of the Canucks penalty kill unit. The group has been strong all season and that trend continued tonight. Abbotsford killed all four of the Heat's power plays in this one. Overall, the unit has killed 81.6% of power play opportunities, good for second best in the Pacific Division.
The Abbotsford Canucks (3-3-2-0) will once again attempt to cool down the Heat when they take on Stockton (6-0-1-0) on Saturday night at Stockton Arena. The Canucks are currently tied for fourth place in the AHL's Pacific Division with eight points and the Heat sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 13 points. Abbotsford will enter tomorrow's game having obtained just one point in their previous three games. You can bet that the Canucks will be a motivated group as they try to get back into the win column in the series finale with the Heat.