Saturday’s (April 2) game against the Laval Rocket was a night of big numbers for the Abbotsford Canucks.
The largest reported crowd (6,017), a giant first period (19 shots and three goals) and a massive 6-1 win as the club continues its march for playoff positioning.
Forward Brandon Cutler energized the crowd early and opened the scoring at 4:56 of the first. Carson Focht then benefitted after an excellent individual effort by Madison Bowey to make it 2-0 at 16:00. Abbotsford’s power play continued its strong play and John Stevens added a goal with the man advantage with one second left on the clock.
It got so bad for Laval that someone threw a Montreal Canadiens jersey onto the ice after that third goal.
After that third goal a fan threw a Montreal Canadiens jersey on the ice, big pop from the crowd pic.twitter.com/5fnDoiLUij— Ben Lypka (@BenLypka) April 3, 2022
The first period saw Abbotsford fire 19 shots at Rocket goalie Cayden Primeau, one of the most active periods shot wise this season for the club.
Sheldon Rempal scored the lone goal of the second period to make it 4-0 Abbotsford and newly signed Matt Alfaro scored his first as a Canuck at 1:18 of the third. Stevens scored his second of the game after getting a breakaway with the Canucks down two men.
Laval spoiled the traditional bagel celebration for the Canucks, as they scored with just eight seconds left. Head coach Trent Cull buys the entire team bagels when they achieve a shutout, but the carbs will have to wait for another time.
Canucks goalie Spencer Martin was solid, especially in the third period when the Rocket turned on the intensity. Martin made 34 saves to collect his 17th win. The team in front of him also limited chances the first two periods.
Cull said it was a good effort for his team.
“They looked good right from the start,” he said. “We come out with a good jump. I liked our o-zone play and I liked how we were playing in the d-zone.”
He said the offensive contributions of his bottom six, guys like Cutler and Focht, was a good sign.
“For those third or fourth line guys to get a goal to start the game was key for us,” he said.
He also praised the play of defenceman-turned-forward Alex Kannok-Leipert, who was buzzing all night and playing aggressively.
“He did a really good job,” he said. “I’ve asked him to play forward and he’s been solid on the wall and I think he’s a good kid who is willing to do anything for the team. I’m happy he’s been finding some success for us there.”
Stevens, Rempal and Jack Rathbone all had multi-point nights, with Rathbone collecting three assists. He’s now scored 31 points in 29 games for Abbotsford. Cull said this was Rathbone’s best game since he returned from injury.
Abbotsford’s record improved to 31-21-5-1 after the win and they continue to jockey for playoff positioning. They sit in fifth place, but will be in an important battle with the Bakersfield Condors for home ice advantage in round one of the playoffs.
Rempal said the team is watching what Bakersfield is doing, but they just need to keep on winning.
“Walking into that series fourth place or higher is going to be huge,” he said. “It’s going to be massive. But we just have to win. It’s obviously going to be a battle but just hopefully we can get into a good position heading into playoffs.”
The Canucks and the Rocket meet again tomorrow (Sunday) at 4 p.m. The team then welcomes the San Diego Gulls for games on April 8 and 9.