The Abbotsford Canucks seem to like overtime, and the loud and raucous (50 per cent capacity) crowd on Friday night (Oct. 22) at the Abbotsford Centre didn’t seem to mind the free hockey.
Forward Justin Bailey used his major league speed to find open ice during the three-on-three extra frame, fired the puck at the net and defenceman Madison Bowey slammed it home to give the Canucks the 3-2 win over the Henderson Silver Knights in their Abbotsford debut.
The night had a unique energy from the start, as the Sardis Drumline began the pregame festivities, followed by a land acknowledgement and welcome from Chief Dalton Silver of the Sumas First Nation.
Then the roars began and didn’t end, as after Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis, Mayor Henry Braun and owner Francesco Aquilini came Vancouver Canucks legend Stan Smyl to a huge pop and then Daniel and Henrik Sedin were introduced to a roar.
But when the players were introduced it became deafening, anyone from British Columbia was suddenly as big as Hollywood stars and it was topped by Abbotsford’s Noah Juulsen.
It may have been 50 per cent capacity, but the audience volume was at 150 per cent.
Head coach Trent Cull said it was a memorable night.
“I tried to take a moment there at the end of the game,” he said. “To look around the crowd and I thought it was really good for 50 per cent capacity. They were very vocal and it seemed like a good atmosphere from the bench. I think it was exciting.”
The game followed a similar script to several other Abbotsford Canucks games so far this season. Bailey opened the scoring at 13:05, with Juulsen and goalie Michal DiPietro drawing the assists. But that lead was short lived, as Pavel Dorofeyev evened the game up 86 seconds later.
No offence occurred in the second, but the violence level was ramped up. One scary moment occurred when DiPietro was bumped by Maxim Marushev, drawing a goalie interference call and some rough stuff.
Henderson took the lead at 5:53 of the third with a shorthanded goal after a poor Canucks power play. But moments later a strong individual effort from Danila Klimovich helped set up John Stevens for his first goal this season. Squamish’s Jarid Lukosevicius drew the second assist.
Overtime saw Bowey become the hero and a future trivia answer for his historical tally.
Bailey, who was the second star of the game and scored his 100th career AHL goal, said he’s going to enjoy playing in front of the raucous Abbotsford crowd.
“Coming out for the opening ceremony and even when they announced all the players that were from here it was loud,” he said. “You knew the tone was going to be set and it was exciting.”
DiPietro said he too could feel the energy tonight.
“It was awesome,” he said. “You feel it as a player, the swing in momentum even at half capacity they were certainly loud in there. Hopefully we can get it full capacity and really get it rocking in there. It was a lot of fun playing out there.”
Abbotsford outshot Henderson 36-24 but special teams - both taking penalties and the power play - continue to be issues for the Canucks. Abbotsford allowed a shorthanded goal and was unable to connect on the power play. However, the penalty kill remains strong and tonight the Canucks killed off all opportunities.
“We obviously don’t want to take bad penalties but if my guys are competing I’m kind of ok with it,” he said. “We have a good penalty kill and sometimes that extra compete and playing with jam is ok. Of course we don’t want to get into trouble though.”
The two teams meet again at the Abbotsford Centre on Sunday (Oct. 22). Face-off is set for 4 p.m. The game is expected to be a sell-out.