Abbotsford Canucks Check-in: Rempal, Dries, Di Guiseppe lead the way

Oct 9, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Phillip Di Giuseppe (34) celebrates his goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period at Rogers Arena. Oilers won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Phillip Di Giuseppe (34) celebrates his goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period at Rogers Arena. Oilers won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s been an interesting end to the month for the Vancouver Canucks, but what about their friends down in the AHL?

After splitting their back-to-back contests against the San Jose Barracuda back in mid-November, the Abbotsford Canucks travelled to Arizona to take on the Tuscon Roadrunners. This marked the first game in just under two weeks for the AHL affiliate, who ended up postponing their two contests against the Bakersfield Condors on November 19th and 21st due to the devastating floods in British Columbia.

The team entered Friday’s contest with a 4-4-2-1 record, looking to gain some traction in the Pacific Division. Abbotsford rolled with Michael DiPietro for the third consecutive start, hoping the young netminder would be able to build upon his impressive .942 SV% and 1.96 GAA during that span.

The Canucks also welcomed back forward Justin Bailey, who had been spending time with Vancouver after being recalled by the NHL club on October 26th.

The Canucks were able to capitalize early in Arizona, thanks to Will Lockwood‘s second tally of the year, but would go on to surrender three unanswered goals from Tuscon in the same period.

Similar to their NHL parent club, Abbotsford had to rely on their goaltender to keep them afloat in the game, particularly while shorthanded in the middle frame. The team also had zero luck on the powerplay, going 0-for-4 on the man advantage, which ultimately led to their fifth regulation loss of the season.

Abbotsford was given a chance for redemption just 24 hours later, facing off against Tuscon in the second half of their back-to-back.

Just like Friday’s contest, Lockwood was able to open the scoring early on, but the lead didn’t last long at all. Tuscon was once again able to notch three goals of their own in the first period against Arturs Silovs, all within a span of 4:37, before Sheldon Dries brought his team within one on his seventh goal of the year and 100th AHL point.

Fortunately, the Canucks were able to respond much better in the second period, with help from Jarid Lukosevicius and John Stevens to restore the one-goal lead.

Unfortunately, Abbotsford eventually went on to do their best Vancouver impression during the third period. Tuscon forward Cameron Hebig notched his second goal of the game with just over six minutes left before Janis Moser potted the eventual game-winner on the powerplay with just 51 seconds left on the clock.

Abbotsford outshot Tuscon by a margin of 25-23, but also surrendered two powerplay goals, bringing their record to 4-6-2-1.

The Canucks returned home to wrap up the month of November, facing off against top-seeded Ontario Reign. Their Pacific Division rival ended up registering the first goal of the game, but it was all Abbotsford after that.

Abbotsford received goals from Nic Petan and Sheldon Rempal, with the latter eventually standing tall as the game-winner, but the spotlight was all on Phillip Di Guiseppe‘s second period tally.

The 28-year-old forward was sprung in on a breakaway, thanks to a slick pass from Rempal, before going between his legs and burying the puck past Matthew Villalta for the highlight-reel finish.

The win brought Abbotsford one game closer to .500 but, more importantly, brought some much-needed positivity and celebration for the community.

Abbotsford continued their four-game homestand on Wednesday, looking to duplicate the same results from 24 hours prior. DiPietro, who stopped 21 of 23 shots faced on Tuesday, was given the night off, making room for Spencer Martin between the pipes for his second start of the year.

Similar to Tuesday night, Ontario opened the scoring first, notching two tallies in the opening 10 minutes. Abbotsford was able to bring the game back to level before the second intermission, thanks to goals from Dries and Rempal, as well as some excellent penalty killing prior to the markers.

Ontario regained the lead halfway through the second period, but it was Rempal to the rescue again shortly afterwards, with the former Reign forward notching his second goal of the game on a 5-on-3 powerplay.

Rempal would go on to complete the hattrick, marking his 10th goal of the season and the inaugural franchise hattrick in Abbotsford Canucks’ history. Tristan Nielsen also registered his first-ever AHL goal, which eventually landed as the game-winner.

With the victory, Abbotsford now sits seventh in the Pacific Division with 15 points, large in part to the strong performances of Dries, Rempal and Di Guiseppe, who combined for 13 points in four games, including nine against Ontario.

The team will be squaring off against San Jose on December 4th and 5th, looking to stay perfect at the Abbotsford Centre for the remainder of their homestand.

Abbotsford will also have the services of blueliner Travis Hamonic, who was loaned to the AHL affiliate on Friday.

Hamonic, who is now double vaccinated, did not travel with Vancouver on their five-game road trip due to flu symptoms and, as per head coach Travis Green, will need to get some AHL ice time and conditioning under his belt before returning to the big leagues.

Saturday’s contest will also included Abbotsford’s first even Teddy Bear Toss, with all donations and teddy bears going directly to Archways’ Christmas Bureau Toys For Tots program.

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What are your thoughts on how Abbotsford has been playing so far? Make sure to drop a comment below!