DRIES LEADS CANUCKS TO VICTORY OVER COLORADO IN OVERTIME THRILLER
ABBOTSFORD, BC - It may still be the regular season, but many would say it’s already starting to feel like the playoffs for the Abbotsford Canucks.
As the Canucks returned home after winning three of their four games, there was no time to relax.
They were scheduled to face the Colorado Eagles for the next two games. They were third in the Pacific Division with 62 points and 17 games remaining.
The Canucks, meanwhile, were No. 5 in the Pacific Division with 54 points and 21 games remaining.
Abbotsford lost the first of two games, as it fell 3-1 to Colorado on Friday.
“I liked our game,” Canucks’ head coach Trent Cull said following the game. “I thought we played a really good game. It’s unfortunate. It was a tight game and they seemed to get some of the bounces in their favour. I loved our first period… I thought we played really well. One thing I’d say is that just have a little bit more net-front traffic. I thought that there were rebounds to be had. We need to make sure we’re stopping at net front.”
To say that wins are crucial at this point of the season, would be an understatement.
That’s because, not only are points important to try to earn the right to have home-ice advantage, but Colorado and Abbotsford could face off in a best-of-three series in the first round of the AHL playoffs, when all is said and done.
The pressure was on.
In the final regular season game between the two teams on Sunday, the Canucks responded. They defeated the Eagles 5-4 in overtime.
“We don’t like giving another team three points,” Cull stated. “But you know what, I thought it was another growing step for our team with the adversity. We needed the two points and I felt like we needed a better fate the other night too. (On Friday), we kept Colorado to just about 20 shots and under 10 chances against and we didn’t win that game, so it’s nice for us to come out on the good side tonight.”
What a perfect way to do it too.
Canucks’ forward Dries had been with the Eagles and under the Colorado Avalanche’s system since 2018-19 prior to signing with Vancouver this season and getting re-assigned to Abbotsford.
He scored at 1:41 of the overtime period to win the game. It was his 31st goal of the season. He is No. 3 in the AHL’s goals lead and out of all of them, this may have been the most critical one of the season.
Add in the fact that Nic Petan had the lone assist. The duo are now combined for seven goals and 13 assists in the last eight games.
“I got caught down low,” Dries explained. “I was late getting back but (Martin) made a huge save and then (Petan) it up the gut there so I knew it was a race to the net. I knew that the guy was chasing me down so I knew there wasn’t much time to think. It was just about pulling pulling something out of the bag, something quick and the five hole was there for me.
“It’s huge to get the win to say the least. That’s a good team over there. We know where they sit in the standings and where they sit, so if that’s how a playoff series is going to be, we have something to look forward to.”
Dries, who was left off the scoresheet against Colorado on Friday, stepped up when Abbotsford needed it most on Sunday.
It was potentially the most important game of the season and against his former team.
Just absolute pure magic.
The Abbotsford Canucks (26-19-3-1) will play host to the Manitoba Moose (30-17-2-2) at the Abbotsford Centre on Tuesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM PST.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Vancouver Canucks re-assigned defenceman Madison Bowey to Abbotsford on Saturday and recalled defenceman Noah Juulsen on Sunday.
Abbotsford defenceman Madison Bowey scored his fifth goal of the season.
Canucks forward Jack Rathbone who scored his sixth goal of the season, along with an assist extended his point streak to eight games. He also extended his assist streak to eight games, which is tied for the AHL season lead. He had a plus-4 rating, which led the team.
Abbotsford goaltender Spencer Martin made 35 saves in his 13th win of the season.
Forward Sheldon Rempal made his season debut with the Vancouver Canucks when they played host to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. He has 23 goals and 25 assists in 41 games this season with Abbotsford.
FIRST STAR — ABB’s Sheldon Dries (31st goal of the season)
SECOND STAR — ABB’s Yushiroh Hirano (a goal and an assist along with three shots)
THREE STAR - ABB’s Chase Wouters (two assists and was a plus-2 rating)