The Abbotsford Canucks win streak ended at six games on Sunday (Feb. 20) with a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Eagles, but the strong play has moved the club into contention for a higher spot in the Pacific Division.
Sunday’s game in Loveland, Colo., saw the teams trade two goals apiece after a scoreless first period.
Abbotsford’s Sheldon Dries continued his torrid scoring pace by with a pair of goals, both tallied on the power play. Dries leads the Canucks with 26 goals in 36 games and sits second in goals in the American Hockey League.
Colorado’s Mikhail Maltsev and Martin Kaut scored goals in the second and third period respectively to give the Eagles the win.
Noah Juulsen and Sheldon Rempal both picked up a pair of assists in the loss, and Abbotsford was outshot 31-26. Canucks starting goalie Michael DiPietro made 27 saves and his record dropped to 6-9-2-0 on the season.
Abbotsford’s power play continues to be red hot, and it is now operating at 24.1 per cent. It ranks third in the AHL behind the Rochester Americans and Ontario Reign. The penalty kill still needs some improvement and ranks 19th in the league at 80.3 per cent.
Saturday (Feb. 19) marked the team’s first-ever visit to Colorado and it could properly be described as the Spencer Martin show.
The Canucks goalie was spectacular, making 43 saves to carry Abbotsford to a 2-1 win.
After a scoreless opening frame, the Canucks got goals from Ashton Sautner and Phil Di Gisueppe in the second period and that would prove to be enough. Colorado’s Kiefer Sherwood scored a late power play goal to make a third period push.
Abbotsford was outshot 44-18 in the game and were outshot 19-1 in the third, but Martin hung on for the win. His record this season improved to 10-1-2-2. Colorado’s Sherwood himself had nine shots - half as many as the Canucks managed in 60 minutes.
Last week also saw the Canucks open the three-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors on Feb. 17.
Offensively it was the Sheldon show that carried Abbotsford, with both Dries and Rempal scoring a pair of goals. The Canucks power play was also on fire, going four for six on the game.
Abbotsford led 1-0 after one and 2-1 after two. Nic Petan added an empty net goal late for some insurance.
Madison Bowey, Petan and Rempal all recorded three point nights. Defenceman Jack Rathbone collected two assists, but was also involved in a scary incident in the third period.
Rathbone was hit from behind into the end boards and was then removed from the game in a stretcher. Condors forward Colton Sceviour received a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. He was suspended two games for the incident. Rathbone did not play in either of the games against Colorado.
Abbotsford’s record now sits at 21-16-3-1 with a point percentage of .561. They remain in sixth place in the Pacific, but are slowly gaining on the Eagles (.587) and the Henderson Silver Knights (.598).
The Canucks next host the Pacific-leading Stockton Heat on Friday (Feb. 25) and Sunday (Feb. 27). Stockton beat the Canucks in Abbotsford on Feb. 3 and 4. Puck drop is 7 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.