The Abbotsford Canucks welcomed 2022 with a thud on Thursday (Jan. 6), suffering the worst loss in the team’s short history and tying the most goals allowed in one game in a 6-2 loss to the Bakersfield Condors.
The game, played in front of a 50 per cent capacity crowd at Abbotsford Centre, was the first professional sports event in British Columbia this year.
It was also the first time since Dec. 5 that the Abbotsford club had played on home ice and the team’s first game of any kind since Dec. 19.
Puck drop on the first pro sports event in BC for 2022. @abbycanucks first home game since Dec. 5, @Canucks haven’t had a home game since Dec. 14. Game is at 50 per cent capacity pic.twitter.com/O9iDHLvsym— Ben Lypka (@BenLypka) January 7, 2022
And that fact showed in the first period, as both teams came out flat. The scoreless period saw Abbotsford generate just four shots.
The Condors opened the scoring at 6:06 of the second period when Philip Kemp scored a short handed goal, but Madison Bowey tied the game up 134 second later on a nice set-up from Sheldon Rempal. The wheels started falling off late in the second, as Bakersfield got goals from Devin Brosseau (14:44) and Seth Griffith (19:45) to go up 3-1 after two.
The Condors poured it on in the third, with three consecutive goals - including two on the power play to go up 6-1. Rempal, who was probably the best player on the ice for Abbotsford, added a late goal. Rempal led all Canucks with four shots on goal.
The six goals are the most ever allowed by the Abbotsford Canucks. The club had previously allowed six goals to the San Jose Barracuda back on Dec. 4 in a 6-4 loss. Prior to Thursday, the team’s worst loss had been a 5-2 setback to the Ontario Reign on Oct. 29.
Canucks goalie Michael DiPietro had a rough night, allowing six goals on 28 shots. Abbotsford was outshot 28-19.
Canucks head coach Trent Cull said he mostly liked his team’s effort in the first two periods, but the third was not good enough. He admitted that the long layoff likely hurt the team. The two teams meet three more times in the next four days and Cull said he hopes to see the team build off Thursday’s struggles.
“Hopefully we’ll be better with having a game under our belts,” he said. “And be a lot more sharper. There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
One scary moment occurred in the third period when Carson Focht had to leave the game after a big running hit from Luke Esposito. The Condors forward received a 10-minute game misconduct and a five minute major penalty for charging. The Canucks failed to take advantage of that long power play.
Cull did not have an update on Focht.
Thursday also marked the American Hockey League debut for newly signed forward Brandon Cutler. The Alberta product recorded one shot and Cull said he seemed to fit in well.
“He was good on face-offs and we struggle with that sometimes on our team,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of natural centreman so it’s nice to have a guy who can win some face-offs for us. He could be someone who ends up sticking around here for us.”
The teams meet again on Friday (Jan. 7), Sunday (Jan. 9) and Monday (Jan. 10). Cull said he’s not the biggest fan of this portion of the schedule.
“No I don’t like four games in five nights,” he said bluntly when asked about the schedule. “But that’s how it is.”
Thursday’s game was aggressive, with Abbotsford’s Noah Juulsen dropping the gloves with Bakersfield’s Dino Kambeitz and plenty of rough stuff after the whistle. Cull said he liked the team’s physical play and would like to see that continue.
The Friday and Monday games against the Condors occur at 7 p.m., while the Sunday game gets underway at 4 p.m.