The effort was better for the Abbotsford Canucks on Saturday (Oct. 30), but the cruel nature of three-on-three overtime hockey along with a pair of power play goals cost the club two points.
The Ontario Reign capitalized with the man advantage twice in the first period, but Abbotsford clawed away at the lead with goals from Phil Di Giuseppe in the second and Sheldon Dries in the third. Ontario’s T.J. Tynan scored the game winner at 2:54 of overtime after perfect pass from Jaret Anderson-Dolan.
Abbotsford was arguably the better team in five-on-five play, and outshot the Reign 35-31 in regulation. Canucks head coach Trent Cull liked his team’s start, but penalty troubles haunted them as the period carried on.
“I thought we were the better team the first 10 minutes,” he said. “There was a high stick [four-minute double minor] that ended up happening and they capitalized. It took us a little to get back on track, but we came back with a really good second period. To battle back two goals against that team, I thought it was really good.”
One of the big stories from the game was the first appearance this season for Canucks defenceman Travis Hamonic. The 31-year-old was put on waivers on Oct. 10 after he failed to report to Canucks training camp. He went unclaimed and was to report to Abbotsford, but he also did not show up with the American Hockey League team. The Canucks then placed Hamonic on a temporary leave of absence on Oct. 18.
It was announced earlier this week that he was joining Abbotsford and did participate in practices this week. He did not appear in Friday’s (Oct. 29) game against the Reign, but did suit up on Saturday. Hamonic logged a significant amount of ice time, playing on the penalty kill and power play and had a strong game overall.
“He wanted to play yesterday [Friday],” Cull said. “And so we’re just trying to be cautious, maybe he won’t play back-to-back’s but he came in and I thought he played really well for us and he’s been great at practice. We’re so lucky to have a 10-year NHL defenceman come and be around our team.”
Hamonic recored one assist and one shot on goal, but his presence was felt whenever he was on the ice. His ability to make the first pass and maintain pressure in the offensive zone was a big asset for Abbotsford on Saturday.
Forward Sheldon Dries said Hamonic has fit in well in Abbotsford.
“He’s an awesome guy,” he said. “His veteran presence back there is huge for us.”
The other emerging story in Abbotsford is what’s happening in net. Spencer Martin made his first start this season, and looked solid in the loss. He made 33 saves and gave Abbotsford a chance to win.
Martin, Arturs Silovs and Michael DiPietro have all seen game action early into the season. It was believed that DiPietro would get the majority of games, but goaltending from all three players has been an early strength for the team. Cull liked Martin’s play tonight.
“He was great for us,” he said.
Another player who got Abbotsford fans talking was forward Vincent Arseneau. He was playing an extremely physical game early and fought Ontario’s Jacob Doty. He also took the aforementioned double minor for high sticking, but Cull said that is exactly the type of game he wants out of Arseneau, especially after a poor result on Friday.
“I thought he was really good,” he said, of Arseneau. “Probably not the best night last night so I thought he was fired up. He went out and he was effective. Vinny is kind of an emotional leader for us so when he’s doing his thing and playing hard like that it kind of drags the rest of our group into that fight and makes us emotional and I like when we play with it.”
Abbotsford forwards were buzzing all night, but Ontario goalie Garret Sparks was excellent in net. He made 34 saves and faced seven shots from Sheldon Rempal, five from Danila Klimovich and four each from Ashton Sautner, Jarid Lukosevicius and Dries.
Reign players Martin Frk, Dolan-Anderson, Tynan and Jordan Spence all had two-point nights. Dries and Di Giuseppe had two-point nights for Abbotsford.
Ontario improves to a record of 6-0-0-1 with the win and they remain on top of the Pacific Division. Abbotsford drops to 3-2-2 and they are tied for fifth.
The Canucks next hit the road to take on the Stockton Heat in California on Friday (Nov. 5) and Saturday (Nov. 6). The next home game for the team occurs on Nov. 12 when the San Jose Barracuda come to the Abbotsford Centre.