Another hockey season has come to an end but the Canucks continued to prove what they were made of throughout 2016-2017 season.
Looking to build off the success from last season the Canucks looked to add key pieces to the roster over the summer in order to start the season with a bang. Things started off when the Canucks welcomed James Poole as their new Head Coach and General Manager back in May. Joining Poole on the bench would be returning Associate Coach Adam Redmond and our new Assistant Coach Jason Hanna. Over the summer the Canucks added to their roster acquiring forwards Brett Van Os, Jordan McConnell and Matt Painchaud. All three would help add skill and speed to the forward lineup. Before the season began the Canucks also added veteran defenseman Mark Drohan.
The Canucks started the season off on a great note beating the Olds Grizzlys 4-2 during our home opener. It didn’t stop there as the Canucks went 6-2-1 in their first 9 games to sit in 1st place in the Viterra South Division heading into October. Things didn’t slow down in October as the Canucks remained in the top spot in the south. During October the Canucks traded for forward Braydon Jenkins and defenseman Josh Gagne, to help fill in some of the gaps in the lineup.
With a 13-6-1 record and 27 points to start November, the Canucks were now in a battle against the Brooks Bandits for 1st place. Hitting their stride in November the Canucks didn’t hold back as they went on a 5 game win streak. At the midway point the Canucks were sitting in 2nd place with a 22-9-1 record for 45 points. The team hit a bit of a road block in December when both goaltenders were out of the lineup. Looking to turn things around the Canucks had a big win against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons to finish off 2016. At the end of December the Canucks were sitting in 3rd place in the south with a 23-12-2 record.
Following the Christmas break the Canucks were refreshed and ready to finish the season strong. At the trade deadline the Canucks acquired Zach McNeill from the Grande Prairie Storm and added Sage Englund to the roster. The Canucks would go 3-1-1 in their first 5 games in January which helped them punch their ticket to the Gas Drive playoffs clinching their spot early. Throughout the rest of January and February it would be a tight race for 2nd place in the south as the Canucks were competing with the Okotoks Oilers and Canmore Eagles to see who would come out on top. With one of the toughest schedules coming down the stretch the Canucks had to fight to the finish. During this time the Canucks ended up beating the Brooks Bandits twice, and were the only AJHL team to do so this season.
With the season coming to an end the Canucks would end up in a three way tie for 2nd place in the AJHL South Division with the Canucks, Eagles and Oilers each finishing the season with 78 points. After all the tiebreaks were determined the Canucks would end up in 3rd. This is the highest the Canucks have finished in the standings since the 2004-05 season when the team also finished in third place with 71 points. The last team to have more than 78 points was the 1998-99 team.
Heading into Round 1 of the AJHL Gas Drive Playoffs the Canucks would have home ice advantage and were set to face off against the Drumheller Dragons. This would be the second time that the Canucks have face off against the Dragons in playoffs with the first coming during the 2004-05 season. In a back and forth series the Canucks would end up taking out the Dragons in Game 5 to advance to the second round.
The Canucks second round opponent would be the Okotoks Oilers. Just last season the Canucks met the Oilers in the first round of playoffs. Unfortunately things didn’t go the Canucks way in Round 2 but this team achieved something that hasn't been seen from the Canucks in years. Great Work Boys!
Over the course of the season the Canucks had a number of great accomplishments and season highlights that happened both on and off the ice:
Goaltender Logan Drackett was named the Alberta Ford Dealers Defensive Player of the Week three times. Drackett had a 29-14-3 record this season with 6 shut outs, a .918 SV%, and a 2.35 GAA.
Logan Drackett was selected to represent Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge.
The Canucks were selected as finalists in 5 AJHL League Award Categories. With nominations in 5 categories the Canucks led the AJHL for number of award finalists from one team. 1998-born goaltender Logan Drackett was named finalist for Alberta Old Time Hockey Players Trophy as the leagues Most Valuable Player and was also named finalist for Friends of AJHL Trophy as leagues Top Goaltender which he would end up winning. 1996 defenseman Allan MacPherson was named finalist for the W.G. Scott Memorial Trophy as leagues Top Defenceman. 1996-born forward Ben Assad, was named finalist for the Don McNabb Memorial Trophy as leagues Most Dedicated Player. Head Coach James Poole was also named finalist for Coach of the Year. The Canucks are proud of all our nominated players for all they have accomplished over the course of the season.
Earlier this season Logan Drackett announced his commitment to RIT. This was the first commitment for the Canucks this season.
Throughout the season the Canucks partnered with Brown Bagging for Calgarys Kids, YWCA Calgary, the Calgary Food Bank and The Women’s Centre in an effort to help those who need it around the city.
The Canucks have helped out in the community shoveling snow at community rinks, working with minor hockey teams, helping with the Canadian Tire - First shift program and the Hair Massacure event.
Thank you to all the coaches and players for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. As a team you have helped to put us back on the map and have achieved something that hasn't been seen from the Canucks in years. We couldn’t be prouder of the success you have had this season and we look forward to seeing it grow next season.
The Canucks would like also like to wish the graduating Canucks players, Matt Painchaud, Kyler Magus, Allan MacPherson, Zach McNeill, Brett Van Os, and our captain Ben Assad, all the best in their future endeavors. You have been incredible leaders and your heart and determinations has been the driving force to our success. We know you will have success on whichever path life takes you. The Canucks would also like to wish Logan Drackett all the best at RIT next year.
Also a big thank you to all the Canucks Parents, our great fans, our valued sponsors,our dedicated volunteers, our welcoming billets, and all those involved in making the Canucks organization a hockey club that is very proud to call Calgary our home. You are the backbone of our organization and your support is invaluable. You are the ones who make us great!
We are proud of the positive strides that our hockey club has made in this past season, and we look forward to building upon this success in the future. The hockey season may be over for this year but more exciting things are in store. Stay tuned...
We look forward to seeing everyone in the 2017-2018 season!
GO CANUCKS GO!