Phil Di Giuseppe, Abby Canucks Deke out Reign for Big Win Tuesday Night

The Abbotsford Canucks (6-6-2-1) bested the Ontario Reign (11-3-0-1), 3-2 on Tuesday night at Abbotsford Centre. The Canucks were clearly the better team, outshooting the Reign 26 to 23 and dominating the pace of play. It was truly a team win tonight, as six different players recorded at least one point and every Canucks’ skater had a quality showing in the victory.

The Ontario Reign opened the scoring tonight, getting an early 1-0 lead thanks to a nifty play by Adam Johnson. The Reign forward received the puck in front of the net and pulled the string on Abby tender Mikey DiPietro, beating him five-hole for his first goal of the season. T.J. Tynan and Gabriel Vilardi pitched in with assists on the play.

Nic Petan was a sparkplug for the home side all night and he got the Canucks on the board, tying the game at 1 at the 7:25 mark of the first period. Petan pounced on a rebound from a Vincent Arseneau point shot, burying it between the legs of Reign goalie, Matthew Villalta. Arseneau and Jett Woo both registered assists on the play.

“What Nic brings is a composure with the puck,” said Canucks’ head coach Trent Cull. “He brings a calmness and a savviness to our team offensively and gives us confidence.”

The Abby Canucks added to their lead in the second period thanks to a beautiful play from Sheldon Rempal and Phil Di Giuseppe. Rempal hit a streaking Di Giuseppe perfectly in stride as he entered the attacking zone, and Di Giuseppe did the rest. The 28-year-old Toronto product undressed Villalta with a gorgeous deke, then shot from it between his legs past the outstretched blocker of the goalie.

“What a pass and what a nice goal,” said Cull postgame. “I thought it was a really good pass by Sheldon Rempal.”

“It was a move in my arsenal, and I decided to pull it out,” joked Di Giuseppe. “I just remember shooting up the ice and didn’t have much time to think. I had my stick on the ice and I wasn’t sure the puck was going to get to me. That pass was really the highlight of the play, it’s a saucer pass probably 30 feet.”

Rempal got in the fun with a goal of his own coming on the powerplay at the 15:49 mark of the second period. The former Ontario Reign winger has now scored four goals this season for the Abby Canucks. Petan registered his second point of the night with a beautiful cross ice pass and Jack Rathbone made an appearance on the scoresheet with a helper.

The Reign managed to shrink the Canucks’ lead to a single goal but that’s as close as they could get. Alex Tucotte got the goal, but it was too little too late for the visitors tonight.

“We knew we had a tall challenge with the Reign, that’s a pretty good team over there,” said Cull. “I liked how we started, stayed resilient and battled back, and did a good job. I think specialty teams were good too.”

The highlight of the night was Di Giuseppe’s remarkable between the legs goal. Scoring a goal on a breakaway is always something that catches fans attention, but to do it with such pizazz and with such a beautiful feed from Rempal, made it arguably the most memorable goal of the season for Abby fans.

“I just grabbed the puck off the wall and had some time with it,” said Rempal postgame. “I saw Phil beat their defenceman with some speed. I saw there were two sticks there and I tried to get it over them. Thankfully it landed on his tape and you can’t get a better finish than that.”

Mikey DiPietro stumbled during his previous outing against Tucson, but he returned to his typically exceptional form during tonight’s 3-2 victory. He made numerous saves on odd man rushes and breakaways to secure the important win for the Canucks. Not even an errant elbow to the head from a Reign player late in the game was enough to slow the Abby goaltender down.

“I thought Mikey was really good,” said Cull when speaking to reporters postgame. “We got hemmed in there a little bit there in the second period and I thought he made some really big saves for us. Really good to see him back to form, so to speak.”

Tonight’s win was critically important for the Canucks. Fresh off a two-game skid and facing the Pacific Division leaders, Ontario Reign, this was a must-win for the home side. Not only did the team need a victory, but the entire community of Abbotsford was in need of something positive to cheer about. It was nice to see so many smiling faces out in the crowd tonight.

“It was the biggest win of the season,” said Rempal. “We were desperate for a win and the guys really came to play. I think our whole lineup really dug deep. It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning. We needed this one for sure, and hopefully we get another one tomorrow.”

The Abbotsford Canucks (6-6-2-1) will be back in action tomorrow night against the Ontario Reign (11-3-0-1). Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm at Abbotsford Centre. The Canucks are the first team this season to snag two wins against the Reign and they will hope to add to that number tomorrow. Tickets are still available to watch the Canucks battle Ontario on Wednesday night.