NIELSEN LEADS CANUCKS TO REMARKABLE COMEBACK, DEFEAT MOOSE 5-4 IN OT
ABBOTSFORD, BC - Opportunity, along with the right timing, is all someone may need to blossom.
The Abbotsford Canucks have a number of players out due to injury.
Along with that, Vancouver has recalled many of Abbotsford’s top players to help fill out its roster as of late. It was clear that there was no better time than the present for the remaining Abbotsford roster to make a statement.
Abbotsford forward Tristen Nielsen, for one, is doing just that.
Nielsen, 22, really began to show his potential in Abbotsford’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Colorado Eagles on Sunday. He scored his fourth goal of the season that night.
Abbotsford’s coaching staff, led by head coach Trent Cull, took notice.
The Canucks were then scheduled to play host to the Manitoba Moose for back-to-back games at the Abbotsford Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the first game of the back-to-back set on Tuesday, Nielsen was given penalty-killing minutes and had earned the trust of the coaching staff. Abbotsford lost 2-1 in overtime.
On Wednesday, as the team celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, that trust earned him a promotion to the second line with centre John Stevens and right-winger Yushiroh Hirano.
He was on the first-unit power play too.
Nielsen opened the scoring against the Moose, scoring his fifth goal of the season at 1:02 of the second period. By the 10:06 mark of the third period, the Canucks trailed 4-1 and looked to be heading towards their second loss in as many nights against Manitoba.
“The wind was out of our sails,” Cull said.
Or so they thought.
Canucks defenceman Jack Rathbone scored at 13:13 of the third period. It gave the team some life and their luck started to turn. It was his seventh goal of the season. He has 17 points in last 10 games, five of which are goals.
All of the sudden, it happened.
Within seconds, Nielsen, who was determined to prove that the trust the coaching staff had in him wasn’t a mistake or taken for granted, scored two goals at 15:21 and 15:58 respectively, to tie the game. That marked his first-career hat trick in the American Hockey League.
Abbotsford (27-19-4-1) completed remarkable comeback, defeating the Moose (31-17-3-2) by a score by 5-4 in overtime.
Canucks forward Sheldon Rempal, who was re-assigned to Abbotsford earlier in the day along with defenceman Noah Juulsen, scored his 24th goal of the season to win the game.
Rempal had two assists and led the team with six shots as well.
It was for the third consecutive game that Abbotsford entered overtime. The Canucks, once again, showed why they have been considered by many to be an extremely resilient team.
For thing is for sure, never count them out, no matter what the situation is.
“I think it’s a day-by-day thing that the group and I have always kind of focused on,” Cull explained. “It’s never a bad thing when there is opportunity to be had by other players. I think that is part of it. We’ve been learning a little bit as we go. We’ve been talking about how we can stay the course and try not to get too rattled.”
Nielsen, undoubtedly, has stepped up to the call.
“He’s been great,” Cull said. “He’s a guy who’s got confidence in himself, which is great. I love it. I love his attitude. For him, it’s just more about seeing the rest of the game. We’ve always said that he’s got some knack, that’s for sure. He certainly has shown that.”
“He’s a guy who has savvy. We’ve always talked about it. He’s got a uniqueness to his game. He reads the game very well… he anticipates. He’s a guy who we’ve talked about defensively and what his responsibilities are. He’s been working on that. He’s conscious of it. He’s a guy who has some knack around the net, so we’re very happy for that tonight.”
Nielsen was the biggest key to the comeback and in the progress, showed what he is capable of at the AHL level.
“I would say that was worth the price of admission for the fans,” Cull said. “That had a little bit of everything, that’s for sure.”
It was one for the ages.
The Abbotsford Canucks will begin a four-game road trip when they visit the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM PST.
NEWS AND NOTES
Canucks forward Sheldon Dries finished with two assists, five shots and was a plus-1 rating. He is now on a three-game point streak with a goal and three assists in that span.
Abbotsford defenceman Devante Stephens has points in consecutive games, with a goal and an assist.
Canucks goaltender Spencer Martin, who made his fifth start in seven games, made 21 saves. It marked his 14th victory of the season.
Abbotsford defenceman Guillaume Brisebois, who has been out with an undisclosed injury, will travel with the team on their four-game road trip and may return to the lineup.
Canucks defenceman Ashton Sautner, who has also been out with an undisclosed injury, will travel with the team on their four-game road trip and may practice, but is unlikely to play.
FIRST STAR — ABB’s Tristen Nielsen (a hat trick, five shots and a plus-3 rating)
SECOND STAR — ABB’s Sheldon Rempal (a goal, two assists, a team-leading six shots along with a plus-3 rating)
THIRD STAR — MAN’s David Gustafsson (a goal and an assist)