THE BEST INAUGURAL SEASON MOMENTS: HIRANO'S HISTORIC RIDE
With the dust of Abbotsford's playoff efforts settled, it is time to close the door on the Canucks' Inaugural Season in the AHL. However before the calendar flips to 2022/23, how about a trip down memory lane? Over the next two weeks, memorable moments from the team's inaugural campaign in Abbotsford will be highlighted in this series.
Following yesterday's piece re-visiting Teddy Bear Toss AVAILABLE HERE, Yushiroh Hirano historic time with Abbotsford get's today's spotlight.
On January 5th, Abbotsford Canucks General Manager Ryan Johnson announced that the team had signed forward Yushiroh Hirano to a Professional Tryout Agreement. Signing from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL, the Tomakomai native Hirano became just the third Japanese-born player to play in an AHL game.
Having gone un-drafted and playing nearly 150 ECHL games, Hirano had finally been given his shot with Abbotsford. And did he ever make a name for himself when given his chance.
Cue January 22nd.
After four games with the squad, Hirano gained the trust of Head Coach Trent Cull, who had him playing alongside Nic Petan and Sheldon Rempal as the starting line in January 22nd's clash with the San Diego Gulls.
A face-off win by Petan and a blown tire by a Gulls defensemen sent Petan and Hirano barreling towards goal on a 2-on-1. Petan fed the wide open Hirano, and that was it. History.
It took four games and ten seconds, but Yushiroh Hirano had buried his first AHL goal, as well as put his name in the league's history book. Hirano's tally was the first goal scored by a Japanese-born player in league history. Instantly becoming a fan favourite, Hirano's name all of a sudden was known all around the hockey world.
The fanbase fell in love with Hirano and his story, who followed up his act with another goal 24 hours later. Japanese fans brought signs to the Abbotsford Centre every game to support Yushiroh and the Canucks.
Hirano tallied five goals and seven assists in 30 games with Abbotsford, with a 100% win percentage in games where he found the back of the net.
On April 6th, GM Ryan Johnson announced that Hirano had been selected to the Japanese national team to represent his country at the 2022 Division 1B IIHF World Championships in Finland. Hirano was named an assistant captain to the team, and lead his side to capturing the silver medal. Hirano also lead the entire tournament in goals (6) and points (10) in a four game span.