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Abbotsford Canucks impress in 7-3 home opener win

Linus Karlsson, Will Lockwood lead the way offensively in front of biggest crowd ever
Abbotsford’s Will Lockwood dekes around the Gulls defence during AHL action on Friday (Oct. 28). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

The biggest home crowd in Abbotsford Canucks history was given a memorable show on Friday (Oct. 28).

More than 6,500 fans packed the Abbotsford Centre, and while there have been fireworks all week for Diwali - there were even more offensive explosions on ice in a 7-3 Canucks win over the San Diego Gulls.

The goals came often and early for Abbotsford, with assistant captain John Stevens scoring just 1:57 into the game. Newly-acquired Kyle Rau made it 2-0 at 6:38 and Will Lockwood put the Canucks up 3-0 at 14:17. Rau added a second goal at 19:09 and the Canucks were up 4-0 to the delight of the 6,517 in attendance.

Canucks forward Linus Karlsson and defenceman Christian Wolanin pushed the pace offensively and both recorded two assists in the opening frame. Karlsson, in particular, looked dangerous on almost every shift in the game.

The Gulls fought back in the second period when Axel Andersson scored on Canucks starting goalie Collin Delia with a shot through traffic. However, that momentum was stifled when Lockwood scored his second of the game on a shorthanded breakaway. San Diego’s Austin Strand made it a 5-2 game after 40 minutes on another screened point shot.

San Diego’s Brayden Tracey scored a power play goal at 3:29 of the third to make it 5-3, but that’s when “the shift” happened.

Canucks defenceman Jett Woo absolutely clobbered Gulls forward Jacob Perrault and on the ensuing turnover Justin Dowling scored to put Abbotsford up 6-3. Karlsson added a spectacular power play goal at 13:50 to make it a 7-3 final.

Dowling and Karlsson led the Canucks with three points apiece, while Lockwood, Rau, Wyatt Kalnyuk and Wolanin all had multi-point games. Delia made 17 saves for his first win as a Canuck. Lockwood and Phil Di Giuseppe led the way with five shots apiece and Abbotsford outshot San Diego 30-20.

The rookie Karlsson has been red-hot so far this season and already has eight points in five games. He said he was satisfied with his game overall today after what he said were challenges adjusting to the AHL early. This season marks his debut in North America after spending last year in the Swedish Hockey League and previous seasons in the Sweden-based HockeyAllSvenskan.

“It’s fast and it’s a good league,” he said, of his time so far in the AHL. “You don’t have much time with the puck. There are many good players out there and the rink is so much smaller in Sweden than here. You have to make quick plays here.”

The 22-year-old arrived with some hype and has so far lived up to his billing.

Abbotsford head coach Jeremy Colliton had praise for the rookie forward.

“He’s a very smart player and obviously has a touch around the net,” he said. “He finds a way and wins a lot of battles to have the puck especially in the offensive zone. There’s obviously a lot there and he’s still getting used to the league and details of playing at the next level. It’s exciting that he’s had some success early to help with his confidence.”

Friday marked Colliton’s first game at the Abbotsford Centre and he stated that the energy provided his team some jump early.

“It was excellent and there was some great energy in the building,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt when you score seven goals, but it’s up to us. We have to handle it the right way - take one extra stride to make a check, back check, finish your checks. But for the most part it was a positive tonight.”

Colliton said he liked the way his team started and didn’t allow the Gulls to regain the momentum in the second period.

“When a team has a really good start it’s just human nature to try and top it,” he said. “But you don’t need better, you need the same. We fell into that trap a bit in the second.”

He also had positive words for his defence, which has been cherry-picked by the parent team in Vancouver. He also confirmed that he intends to keep Woo as a defenceman and thought he had a solid game.

The game also featured the Canucks honouring outgoing Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun and the departing council members. Braun dropped the ceremonial first puck in what is likely his last official act as mayor.

The Canucks and Gulls meet on Saturday (Oct. 28) on Diwali Night. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

The Abbotsford Canucks line up prior to the anthem. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Will Lockwood fights for the puck at mid-ice. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
The Canucks celebrate a goal. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Canucks defenceman Brady Keeper pummels a Gulls player in a fight. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Players meet fans following the 7-3 win. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Mayor Henry Braun drops the puck. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Justin Dowling crunches a Gulls player. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Head coach Jeremy Colliton looks on. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Linus Karlsson was the first star of the game on Friday. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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