The scorching hot Abbotsford Canucks extended their franchise record win streak to nine games with a 4-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors on Tuesday (April 28) inside the Abbotsford Centre.
But more importantly the win moved the Canucks one big step closer to securing home ice advantage in round one of the American Hockey League’s best-of-three playoffs.
Abbotsford now needs just one point in the club’s final two games to guarantee home ice. Two points would move them past the Colorado Eagles and clinch third place. The team could still finish in fourth place and have home ice if they get zero points, as long as the Bakersfield Condors lose on Saturday to the Stockton Heat.
However, none of the math could matter if the Canucks play like they did in Tuesday’s crucial game.
The Condors opened the scoring at 6:15 when Seth Griffith beat Canucks goalie Michael DiPietro, but Sheldon Rempal replied 56 seconds later to tie the game up. Abbotsford outshot Bakersfield 12-8 in the first period.
The second was all Abbotsford, as Matt Alfaro scored his seventh after a nice set-up by Jett Woo at 2:19. Madison Bowey fooled Condors goalie Stuart Skinner with a point shot at 19:36 to give the Canucks a little breathing room and a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Penalties dominated the third, but both goalies managed to keep the puck out of the net until Rempal scored his second of the night and 33rd on the season at 15:57. Adam Cracknell added a late goal for the Condors.
Bowey, Rempal and Justin Dowling all had two point nights and Dowling especially showed off a lot of creative offensive flair. He set up both of Rempal’s goals. Rempal leads the team with 69 points in 53 games and was named the first star.
Abbotsford outshot Bakersfield 32-22 in the game and Jack Rathbone led all players with six shots. DiPietro was the second star and made 20 saves. He’s won his last six starts and his record improves to 15-11-4-0. The Canucks record is now at 39-21-5-1 and their point percentage sits at impressive .636. They remain in third place in the Pacific Division and if they remain in that spot they would square off against the Henderson Silver Knights.
Head coach Trent Cull said he was pleased with his team’s play, especially the second period. He added that he’s thrilled with the way DiPietro has stepped up.
“He had the lion’s share of the starts earlier this year and I think it was good for him to have some compete in our dressing room,” he said, alluding to teammate Spencer Martin. “I think that’s been part of his development and he needs to be pushed. The great thing is he went through all that and he’s grown from it.”
Cull also confirmed that forward Justin Bailey was injured tonight and is out day-to-day with an upper body injury. Bailey left the game in the first period and was holding his arm. He has suffered through shoulder injuries in the past.
The Canucks now head to Winnipeg for the final two games of the regular season against the Manitoba Moose. The clubs meet on Thursday (April 28) and Saturday (April 30). The teams have played six times this season, with the Canucks winning four of those games.
Visit abbynews.com for more coverage of the Canucks march to the playoffs.