CANUCKS RALLY BACK TO DEFEAT LAVAL 4-2 ON FRIDAY NIGHT
The Abbotsford Canucks returned to home ice as they welcomed the Laval Rocket to Abbotsford Centre on Friday night.
Jack Studnicka made his home debut for Abbotsford, centering Sheldon Dries and Tristen Nielsen. Arshdeep Bains returned from injury, along side John Stevens and Vasily Podkolzin, while Aidan McDonough, Aatu Räty and Marc Gatcomb lined up with each other. Josh Bloom, Chase Wouters and Danila Klimovich rounded out the forwards. Christian Wolanin also returned from injury, pairing with Jett Woo, and Quinn Schmiemann partnered with Filip Johansson. Akito Hirose and Cole McWard slotted beside each other, while Artūrs Šilovs starred in goal.
Strauss Mann was the man between the pipes for Laval.
Abbotsford would put the pressure on early, as Podkolzin and Dries each hit the post in the opening three minutes. However it would be former Canuck, Brady Keeper, who would open the scoring. Four minutes into the contest, Keeper would shoot a long range slap shot through traffic, beating Šilovs. It would be the blue liner’s first goal of the season, and gave Laval a 1-0 lead.
The visitors would double their lead just after the midway mark of the frame, after Philippe Maillet got on the end of a broken play in the Abbotsford zone. Maillet would lose the handle on the puck, but Jared Davidson would get it back to him, who steered the puck into the net.
It seemed as though Laval would hold onto that lead heading into the intermission, when John Stevens won an offensive zone faceoff to Arsh Bains who moved around the zone and headed towards goal. Podkolzin drew the attention of two defencemen in front of Mann, leaving Stevens wide open in the slot. Stevens roofed the puck over Mann’s shoulder, cutting the lead in half with three minutes remaining in the first period.
Stevens’ third of the year was quickly followed up by Sheldon Dries, who levelled the game just 26 seconds later. Jack Studnicka took the puck from his own zone into Laval’s, and dropped it behind him for Dries. Dries took the space that was given to him and buried the puck into the top right corner, tying the game at 2-2 with his ninth of the season.
The opening frame would finish up tied at 2-2, with Abbotsford leading the shot count 15-14.
Vasily Podkolzin would score the lone goal of the second period, connecting with Bains and Stevens again for his sixth goal of the campaign. Bains dropped the puck to Podkolzin who was steaming in across the Laval blue line, where he took the puck wide out towards the boards before bodying his way in front of Mann. A close range finish for Podkolzin saw him jam the puck in the net for Abbotsford’s first lead of the contest with five minutes remaining in the second period.
Through 40 minutes, Abbotsford lead 3-2, as well as had the advantage in the shot count with a 29-26 output from the two sides.
A closely fought third period finished off with a John Stevens empty net goal with two seconds remaining, securing a 4-2 victory for Abbotsford.
The victory would be the Canucks’ seventh in the last eight games, leapfrogging Ontario for second place in the Pacific Division. John Stevens picked up two goals for the first time since January 22nd, 2022, and now sits in sole possession of 2nd place in Abbotsford’s all time point scorers list. Bains would also have a multi point game (2A), and Studnicka picked up his 100th AHL point on Dries’ goal.
Artūrs Šilovs stopped 30 of Laval’s 32 shots, and Mann turned aside 35 of the 38 shots he faced.
The two sides will meet again on Saturday night in Abbotsford, where it will be the fourth and final game of the season series. The night will also be Abbotsford’s third annual Teddy Bear Toss, where fans are to bring a new teddy bear to throw on the ice to donate to Archway Community Services.
After this weekend, the Canucks will welcome the Coachella Valley Firebirds to Abbotsford Centre on December 8th and 9th(Star Wars Night) for their second series of the season. The team then flies out for a three game road trip, stopping in Coachella Valley and then Tucson for a pair of games, before their final home games of 2023 against Ontario on December 20th and 21st.
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