MCMANUS SCORES FIRST AHL GOAL, CANUCKS EXTEND WIN STREAK TO THREE
ABBOTSFORD, BC — It was an opportunity too good to lose for Abbotsford Canucks forward Brannon McManus.
McManus, 22, had just finished with NCAA season with the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. He finished with nine goals and 23 assists with the team this season.
The 22-year-old didn’t know what was next. He didn’t know what the future, going forward, would look like in terms of hockey.
Meanwhile, Abbotsford, who has been riddled with injuries and missing top players due to recalls from the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, needed to find players to fill out its lineup.
It’s been much of a ‘next man up’ mentality for Abbotsford this season.
That’s when the phone rang. McManus was with some friends when it did.
It was Abbotsford, calling to offer him a professional tryout agreement. The deal was officially signed on March 18.
When Abbotsford played host to the San Diego Gulls on Friday, it was his third game with the team and he began to showcase what he can bring to the lineup.
“I just wanted to see where he’s at,” head coach Trent Cull stated. “I’m learning him as a player too, just like the fans and media are. He’s got some good jump. I like how he darts around holes. I love how he handles pucks and he’s got some confidence. He’s got some swagger to himself. You lose a Tristen Nielsen and I think this is the kind of guy who fits into that mound.”
The Canucks defeated the Gulls 6-3 and McManus scored his first AHL goal at 17:06 of the first period.
“I was happy for him,” Cull said. “Brannon’s played a couple games for us on the road. He’s got a good little stint of practice. I think he got himself a chance to get up and running. That was good for him. I liked his practice this week. I wanted to play him tonight and I was happy we did. I thought he had some good jump and great speed. It was good to see him get reward at net front.”
The Canucks scored six goals despite not having the likes of forwards Sheldon Dries, Will Lockwood and Nic Petan, who are all recalled by Vancouver. Nielsen, who is out at least a month with an upper-body injury. Rempal was sick and is day-to-day. Add in all the existing injuries as well.
“I was really happy with our team’s play,” Cull said. “I loved our start. I thought we started really well. We were a little bit short staffed penalty killing wise, but I thought we did a decent job… I thought we got better as the game wore on. Our power play was dangerous.”
It’s a lot of credit to the players. They’re playing the right way. They’re working their tails off right now. It’s not a question of who were missing. It’s always a question of who gets an opportunity. For me, that’s the only way of going about it. We have different guys coming in the lineup and having opportunity… it’s great.” Abbotsford extended its winning streak to three games.
Bakersfield lost 4-1 to the Colorado Eagles too. That means that despite Abbotsford and the Condors being tied for 72 points, the Canucks have two more regulation victories and at least for now, move into No. 4 in the Pacific Division.
Both teams, too, have eight games remaining.
“There’s still plenty of games left,” Cull said. “I don’t worry too much about one night. I’m just more worried about my team and how we’re playing.
“I like how we are playing right now.”
The Abbotsford Canucks (33-21-5-1) will have a rematch with the San Diego Gulls (27-27-3-1) on Saturday at the Abbotsford Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM. It will be the Canucks’ final Fan Appreciation Night of the season.
NEWS AND NOTES
Abbotsford forward Tristen Nielsen has an upper-body injury and is expected to be out at least a month.
Canucks forward Phil Di Giuseppe, who is out with a lower-body injury, is still two to three weeks away from returning to the lineup.
Abbotsford forward Justin Dowling and Justin Bailey, who are both out with injuries, are getting close to returning to the lineup. Abbotsford forward Yushiroh Hirano finished with two assists and one shot on net.
Canucks defenceman Jack Rathbone finished with a goal and an assist along with a plus-1 rating and five shots on net. That extended his assist and point streak to five games. He has two goals and eight assists in that span.
Abbotsford forward John Stevens scored his 19th goal of the season. That extended his goal and point streak to five games. He has six goals and an assist over that span.
Canucks forward Brandon Cutler finished with an assist and two shots on net. He has a goal and three assists in his last six games.
Abbotsford forward Danila Kimovich scored his eighth goal of the season.
Abbotsford forward Matt Alfaro finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating. He has a goal and two assists, along with a plus-4 rating over his last three games.
Canucks forward Carson Focht scored his third goal of the season. He has two goals and a plus-3 rating over his last three games.
Abbotsford forward Chase Wouters finished with a goal and an assist, along with a plus-2 rating and five shots on net. He has a goal and two assists over his last three games.
Canucks defenceman Madison Bowey finished with two assists, three shots on net and a plus-2 rating. He has four assists and a plus-5 rating over his last three games.
Abbotsford goaltender Spencer Martin made 17 saves for his 18th win of the season.
Canucks forward Sheldon Rempal was sick and did not play. He is considered day-to-day, but could return the lineup against the San Diego Gulls on Saturday.
The Vancouver Canucks have signed goaltender Spencer Martin to a two-year, one-way contract. He has a 18-4-2 record with the Abbotsford Canucks this season, along with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He has three shutouts as well, which is tied for No. 3 among American Hockey League goaltenders.
The Vancouver Canucks recalled forward Sheldon Dries from Abbotsford under emergency conditions on Thursday. He has 35 goals and 27 assists in 54 games with Abbotsford this season. He leads the team in points and goals. He is also tied for the plus-minus lead with a plus-14. That puts him at No. 2 and No. 7 in the AHL’s goals and points scoring, respectively, as well.
The Vancouver Canucks recalled defenceman Jack Rathbone from Abbotsford under emergency conditions on Tuesday and then re-assigned him on Thursday. The 22-year-old has eight goals and 25 assists in just 30 games with Abbotsford this season.
It was announced on Wednesday that Abbotsford forward Yushiroh Hirano was selected to be on Japan’s roster for the 2022 IIHF World Championship tournament (Division 1 — Group B) from April 26 to May 1 in Tychy, Poland. He will be released from his professional tryout agreement with the Canucks on April 11.
Canucks Sports & Entertainment announced on Tuesday that with the change in British Columbia’s health guidelines, fans and employees are no longer required to show proof of vaccination in order to attend games and events at Rogers Arena as well as the Abbotsford Centre.
FIRST STAR — ABB’s Chase Wouters (a goal and an assist, along with five shots on net and a plus-2 rating.
SECOND STAR — ABB’s Jack Rathbone (a goal and an assist, along with five shots on net and a plus-1 rating.
THIRD STAR — SD’s Danny O’ Regan (a goal and two assists)