SAN JOSE, CA — The light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine brighter for the Abbotsford Canucks.

Since the beginning of season, Abbotsford has had to deal with adversity, both on and off the ice. The world was and still is, battling through COVID-19 pandemic. That was no different for the Canucks.

In November, the city got 540 mm of rain, which is historic amount and shattered all previous records, causing major floods.

It wasn’t just that for Abbotsford. The team has been riddled with injuries all throughout the season. It’s been much the same for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, so add in recalls too.

One thing was for sure though, Abbotsford was going to do everything in its power to battle through it all and have a successful season.

They just done just that. Not only did they clinch a playoff spot for the first time in franchise history after defeating the Laval Rockets 3-1 on April 3, the Canucks are starting to come out on the other side of all the adversity.

When the Canucks began their four-game road trip against the San Jose Barracuda at the Solar4America Ice Rink (Sharks Ice) on Friday, it was the perfect example of it all.

Abbotsford forwards Justin Bailey and Justin Dowling, who had both been out since Feb. 9 and March 4 respectively, returned to the lineup.

Canucks forward Sheldon Rempal, who missed the last two games due to illness, returned too. The 26-year-old, along with forward Sheldon Dries have carried the torch for the team and have been heavily relied upon all season.

Remember though, Dries is currently with Vancouver. In fact, he scored his first goal with the team in its 7-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. The goal was scored on the power play, which marked his first on the man advantage in the National Hockey League.

Abbotsford trailed San Jose 2-0 after the first period. However, Dowling didn’t miss a beat and got the Canucks on the board with a power-play at 5:59 of the second period.

Forwards John Stevens, who has taken over as the team’s top line centre in the absence of Dries, got his 20th assist of the season. Rempal had the secondary assist.

Rempal, just like Dries did with Vancouver and Dowling with minutes earlier, netted a power-play goal of his own at 8:35 of that period to tie game.

The Canucks eventually completed the comeback, defeating the Barracuda 4-3 in overtime. Who got the winner? Dowling, of course.

Bailey and defenceman Jack Rathbone got the assists.

The victory not only extended Abbotsford’s currently streak to five games. It showed a perfect picture of the Canucks’ season have looked for the majority of it: adversity and perseverance.

Once again, too, the power play was lethal. Abbotsford went 2-for-4 on the power play against San Jose and now have power-play goals in six of its last seven games. The Canucks have the second-best power play in the American Hockey League, running 24.4 percent.

“It took a little bit to get my legs into it and have my hands catch up with my feet,” Dowling said. It was good. It’s always nice to contribute. It’s nice to get a win. It’s tough playing in this barn. It’s a different atmosphere… it’s a little awkward. It’s nice to get a win.”

Abbotsford hadn’t played a game in six days either.

“There’s always travel that’s involved with it too,” he explained. “It’s hard to play in play in a rink and atmosphere like this. It almost takes a little bit to get into and get used to it. I thought the boys responded well, though, after the first period.”

The Canucks will have no time to celebrate another character win, as they visit the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday. The two teams have been battling for No. 4 in the Pacific Division in order to be rewarded home ice advantage. They both have the same number of games remaining with six.

Oh yeah, they are both tied with 76 points too.

Abbotsford will have a chance to perhaps control its own fate.

“It’s nice to knock the rust off of not playing in six days,” Dowling said. “It’s a huge game. We’re shooting to jump them in the standings and have home ice.

“It’s going to be a playoff game right from the get go.”


The Abbotsford Canucks (35-21-5-1) will visit the Bakersfield Condors (33-19-5-5) at Mechanics Bank Arena on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM PST.


Canucks forward John Stevens finished with an assist. That extended his point streak (six goals and four assists) to seven games.

Abbotsford forward Sheldon Rempal finished with a goal and an assist. That extended his point streak (four goals and three assists) to five games. He also led the team with six shots on net.

Canucks forward Chase Wouters finished with an assist. That extended his point streak (a goal and three assists) to three games. He had a plus-1 rating and two shots on net as well.

Canucks defenceman Jack Rathbone finished with two assists. He has two goals and 10 assists over his last seven games.

Abbotsford defenceman Devante Stephens scored his third goal of the season. He was a plus-1 rating and had two shots on net as well.

Canucks goaltender Spencer Martin made 22 saves for his 19th win of the season. He is on personal three-game winning streak.

Abbotsford Canucks forward Danila Klimovich and his wife Nastassia got married on April 10. Congratulations to the beautiful couple!