SALUTE TO THE 80S NIGHT SPOILED AS CANUCKS LOSE 5-3 TO MARLIES
ABBOTSFORD, BC — It was a night down memory lane.
In the 1981-82 season, the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks finished with a 30-33-17 record which had ranked them No. 2 in the Smythe Division. When it came to the playoffs, they were seen by many as an afterthought to do anything significant in the tournament.
Well, the Canucks beat all odds, making it all the way to the final. They proved doubters wrong. However, they lost 4-0 to the New York Islanders in a best-of-seven series after an inspirational run, to say the least.
Forward Stan Smyl was the captain for Vancouver. He had 34 goals and 44 assists in 80 regular-season games. He was a large part of the team’s playoff success that season, as he had nine goals and nine assists in 17 playoff games.
Him and Swedish forward Thomas Gradin, of course.
Gradin, then 25-year-old, led the team with 86 points that season, which included 49 assists. He did the same in the playoffs, with 19 points.
Meanwhile, forward Darcy Rota had 20 goals and 20 assists for Vancouver that season as well. He had six goals and three assists during the playoff run.
Let’s not forget about Vancouver forward Ron Delorme and defenceman Harold Snepsts, who were known as the team’s tough guys and beloved in the city. Snepsts had three goals and 14 assists in 68 regular-season games, along with 153 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he had 50 penalty minutes along with four assists in 17 games.
Delorme, on the other hand, had nine goals and eight assists in 59 games, along with 177 penalty minutes. He had 31 penalty minutes in 15 playoff games, along with two assists.
20 years later, that Canucks team is still celebrated and remembered.
When the Abbotsford Canucks played host to the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday, they were celebrated once again. Smyl, Gradin, Rota, Delorme, and Snepsts were all in the building to take part in the team’s celebrations.
Oh, the Canucks were playing the Marlies for the first time at home this season too. There were more cameras and microphones watching and listening from the rafters of the Abbotsford Centre.
After all, it was the Canucks’ Salute to the 80s Night and it was against Toronto, who many consider as the hockey Mecca of the world.
But that wasn’t all.
There was word minutes prior to puck drop that the Marlies’ had a shortage of goaltenders due to injuries and pending recalls to the Maple Leafs. They would need to start an emergency goaltender. Talor Joseph, a 27-year-old goaltender from the Trinity Western University Spartans of USports was summoned.
In 12 games with the Spartans this season, he has a 5.86 goals-against average and .876 save percentage. He was an emergency goaltender for Abbotsford this season as well, but did not play.
It was going to be an easy night. Abbotsford, who are considered to be a top team in the American Hockey League, was just going to dominate to victory.
Or so they thought.
Abbotsford forward Sheldon Dries scored his No. 33 and No. 34 goals of the season, but Joseph made 34 saves for Toronto and the Canucks lost 5-3.
Forward John Stevens scored the other goal for Abbotsford. It was his 17th of the season.
“We weren’t playing our game,” Canucks head coach Trent Cull said. “We weren’t winning puck races, we weren’t doing the right things. We kind of lost structure. I thought our guys got a little bit goal hungry. I think they were thinking that we would have a dominant night. I think it kind of got us off our game. We reap what we sow, I guess.”
Knowing that Toronto had an emergency goaltender starting, was there any message for the Canucks prior to the game?
“Nothing,” Cull said. “I wanted to stay away from that. I didn’t even what to talk our players about that because that’s not something I want in their heads at all. I know what they’re talking about it. I figured… you know what I mean? But that’s not something I want in their heads at all. For us, it’s status quo… it’s the normal job. I didn’t what that to be an issue. I thought it wasn’t at the start of the game. I didn’t like where we kind of went from there.”
The game played out like many of the NHL games did in the 1980s. Passion, hits, free skating and lots of goals.
It was in true 80s fashion.
The Abbotsford Canucks (30-21-4-1) will have a rematch with the Toronto Marlies (31-23-3-1) at the Abbotsford Centre on Wednesday. Puck drop is scheduled at 7:00PM PST. It will be the team’s Hockey is for Everyone Night too.
NEWS AND NOTES
Canucks forward Sheldon Rempal finished with an assist and led the team with five shots on net. He has five goals and six assists over his last eight games.
Abbotsford defenceman Jack Rathbone had two assists and four shots on net.
Canucks forward Brandon Cutler, who had an assist, now has points in consecutive games.
Abbotsford forward Yushiroh Hirano finished with an assist. He has two goals and an assist over his last four games.
Canucks forward Matthew Alfaro, who signed a professional tryout agreement with the team on Monday, was in the lineup. He had two shots on net.
The Vancouver Canucks recalled forward Will Lockwood from Abbotsford on March 26.
Since Abbotsford assigned defenceman Adam Brubacher to the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets on March 24, he has had three points, which are all assists, in as many games. The 26-year-old has a combined plus-4 rating in that span as well.