DIPIETRO SHINES AS CANUCKS EXTEND WIN STREAK TO SIX
BAKERSFIELD, CA — The Abbotsford Canucks had a chance to control their own fate, and they did.
After the Canucks defeated the Laval Rocket 3-1 on April 3, they officially clinched a playoff spot. This is the team’s inaugural season, no less, too.
It felt like a such a relief, considering what Abbotsford has had to endure this season, both on and off the ice.
Adversity builds character and the Canucks have shown that and more.
Talk to anyone in the organization and they’ll say much the same. Everyone was smiling and it was beautiful sight to see around the Abbotsford Centre.
The Canucks knew, though, that work was still far from done. They accomplished one of their goals, but there was another one.
To secure home-ice advantage in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
As the American Hockey League’s playoffs loom, keep in mind that the first round is a best-of-three series. Not only that, the team with the higher seed gets rewarded home-ice advantage for all three games.
The Canucks’ faithful have supported the team through everything since the beginning. They have had the Abbotsford Centre rocking during every home game.
Everyone can feel it. The players feed off of it.
With that said, the Canucks know how special it would be to have all three of their first-round playoff games at the confines of the Abbotsford Centre.
The only thing is, as the days inch closer to the 2022 AHL Calder Cup playoffs, it’s most likely that the Canucks will face the Bakersfield Condors. Both teams have been battling for No. 4 in the Pacific Division, which would get rewarded the highly-coveted home-ice advantage.
After the Canucks clinched, two games were remaining between the two teams. One of which, happened on Saturday.
Going into the game, too, both teams were tied with 76 points and six games remaining.
It may still be the regular season, but both teams understood the importance of this game.
Abbotsford had its work cut out of them though.
The Canucks announced prior to the game that defenceman Devante Stephens, who has been relied on by the Canucks’ coaching staff to play in all situations, would be kept out of the lineup due to injury.
Add in the fact that it was the second-half of back-to-back games.
But again, the Canucks were able to battle through.
Abbotsford (36-21-5-1) defeated Bakersfield (33-20-5-5) by a score of 3-1. Forwards Justin Bailey, Matt Alfaro and Chase Wouters got the goals for the Canucks to help the team extend their winning streak to six games.
But perhaps that wasn’t the main key to it all.
Canucks goaltender Michael DiPietro got the start and was absolute remarkable. Some may argue that given what was on the line, that he played in his best game of the season. He made 37 saves, which included 14 and 16 shots in the second and third period, respectively.
He is on a personal three-game winning streak and has a .958 save percentage in that span.
The Canucks are one step closer to earning home-ice advantage.
DiPietro put his stake on that.
The Abbotsford Canucks will continue their four-game road trip when they visit the San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena on Wednesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM PST.
NEWS AND NOTES
Canucks defenceman Guillaume Brisebois played in his 200th AHL-career game. He finished with a plus-1 rating and two shots on net.
Abbotsford forward Sheldon Rempal finished with two assists. That extended his point streak (four goals and five assists) to six games. He also had a plus-2 rating and led the team with four shots on net.
Canucks forward Chase Wouters scored his fifth goal of the season. That extended his point streak (two goals and three assists) to four games. He has a plus-6 rating in that span as well. The 22-year-old leads the team with a plus-20 rating.
Canucks forward Brandon Cutler and defenceman Brandon Hickey returned to the lineup. Cutler finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating. He has a goal and four assists over his last eight games. Hickey, on the other hand, had a plus-1 rating.
Abbotsford forward Justin Bailey scored his 11th goal of the season. He finished with a plus-1 rating and had three shots on net as well.
Canucks forward Matt Alfaro scored his sixth goal of the season. He has three goals and three assists over his last six games. He has a combined plus-5 rating in that span as well.
Abbotsford forward Danila Klimovich finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating. He has a goal and three assists over his last six games.
FIRST STAR — ABB’s Michael DiPietro (37 saves)
SECOND STAR — ABB’s Justin Bailey (a goal, a plus-1 rating, along with three shots on net)
THIRD STAR — BAK’s Yanni Kaldis (a goal and seven shots on net)