CANUCKS STAY HOT AND EXTEND WIN STREAK TO FOUR, DEFEAT GULLS 5-2
ABBOTSFORD, BC — The Abbotsford Canucks are showing what being a ‘Johnny Canuck’ really means: heart, grit, never giving up and making the best of any situation.
The Canucks have been missing forwards Nic Petan, Sheldon Dries and Will Lockwood. They are all with Vancouver on recalls. Forward Sheldon Rempal has been sick and considered day-to day too.
Oh, forwards Phil Di Giuseppe, Justin Bailey and Justin Dowling are just three among the players on the injured list. Di Giuseppe, who is out with a lower-body injury, is expected to be out for another two to three weeks too.
That’s seven of the team’s top players, who have done majority of the scoring, all out and at the same time. This is especially the case when it comes to Dries and Rempal, who have carried the torch for the team all season.
Let’s not forget too, this is all during a time the world is going through a COVID-19 pandemic.
But yet, the Canucks just continue to find ways to win. They have had to play six games in 11 nights. Add in three back-to-back games sets as well.
Still, it wasn’t a problem for Abbotsford. Different players have stepped up every night. Plus, some may argue that the Canucks have the best goaltending in the American Hockey League with Spencer Martin and Mikey DiPietro.
When The Canucks (34-21-5-1) defeated the Gulls (27-28-3-1) by a score of 5-2 on Saturday, that was exactly the case again. Forward Jarid Lukosevicius who was playing in his 101st AHL game, opened the scoring for the Canucks just 45 second into the first period. It was his ninth goal of the season.
Alex Kannok-Leipert, who usually plays as a defenceman for the Canucks, was put in the third line on the right wing. He made the most of the situation, as he scored his first AHL goal at 11:53 of the second period to put the team up 2-1. It was assisted by defenceman Guillaume Brisebois and forward Carson Focht.
“We got the puck back and I see Bowey and Brisebois passing back and fourth,” Kannok-Leipert explained. “I was just trying to stay in front. As the puck was coming to me, I saw it coming high and I kind of closed my eyes and felt it. Once the guys started coming towards me, I felt a sigh of relief.”
Canucks forward Brannon McManus, who scored his first AHL goal the night before in the team’s 6-3 victory over the same Gulls, did so again. With the game tied at two, he scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal at 7:21 of the third period. It was assisted by forward John Stevens.
DiPetro was stellar, making 23 saves for his 11th win of the season. He was named the third star of the game.
But perhaps, there was one player, in particular, who emerged and really showed the leadership he brings on and off the ice for the Canucks. He showed why he is one of the alternate captains of the team.
That’s defenceman Ashton Sautner.
Sautner, who was playing in just his fourth game back since suffering an injury on Feb. 20 against the Colorado Eagles, had a goal and two assists, along with a plus-3 rating and four shots on net.
The magnificent effort earned him first star honours as well.
“It was good,” Sautner said. “Like, for tonight’s game, we were tied at two going into the third period. Maybe we didn’t have our best two periods, but just talking in the room, we knew that we were going to have to bare down and grunt one out and that’s what we need. It’s a big character win and it shows a lot about our group, that’s for sure.”
The 5-2 victory over the Gulls extended the Canucks’ winning streak to four games.
“It almost seems like every team has a story every season,” Sautner said. “For our story, you think about all the ups and downs that we’ve had with COVID, missing guys, injuries and stuff like that. The number of guys who have come in and stepped up have played huge roles for us. They filled roles when guys are out and I think everybody has done a great job.”
The Canucks have dug away and managed to find victories, really showing what wearing the logo on their sweater is all about.
They are showing the true definition of it, on and off the ice.
The Abbotsford Canucks will begin a four-game road trip on Friday when they visit the San Jose Barracuda at Solar4America Ice Rink (Sharks Ice). Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00PM PST.
NEWS AND NOTES
Canucks forward Yushiroh Hirano played in his final game of his professional tryout agreement with the team. He finished with an assist and was a plus-2 rating. He has three assists in his last two games. The 26-year-old will be on Japan’s roster for the 2022 IIHF World Championship tournament (Division I — Group B) from April 26 to May 1 in Tychy, Poland.
Abbotsford defenceman Alex Kannok-Leipert finished with a goal and a plus-2 rating. He led the team with five shots. He has a goal and an assist, along with a combined plus-3 rating and nine shots over his last two games.
Canucks defenceman Guillaume Brisebois finished with an assist and a plus-3 rating. He have points, both being assists, in consecutive games.
Abbotsford forward Carson Focht finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating. He has a goal and an assist along with a combined plus-3 rating over his last two games.
Canucks forward John Stevens finished with an assist and a plus-2 rating. He had three shots on net as well. He extended his point streak (six goals and two assists) to six games.
Abbotsford forward Danila Klimovich finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating. He has a goal and two assists in his last four games.
Canucks forward Matt Alfaro scored his fifth goal of the season. He has two goals and three assists over his last four games. He has a combined plus-5 rating in that span.
Abbotsford forward Chase Wouters finished with an assist and a plus-2 rating. He has a goal and three assists over his last four games. He has a plus-5 rating in that span. He leads the team with a plus-18 rating.
Canucks defenceman Brandon Hickey returned to the lineup. He finished with a plus-1 rating and one shot on net.
FIRST STAR — ABB’s Ashton Sautner (a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating)
SECOND STAR — SD’s Hunter Drew (two goals)
THIRD STAR — ABB’s Mikey DiPietro (23 saves)