From the Booth: January 19 – February 13

The Calgary Canucks have won 2 straight games for the first time this regular season, a sign of things to come. The Canucks entered 2019 on a slow pace, but since the second weekend back things have looked up. North Division teams can be tough to gauge what kind of game you're going to get with only a limited number of viewings. Fort McMurray faces a lot of travel, their first stop on a southern swing was through the City of Calgary at the Ken Bracko Arena. They piled on the shots, forcing Blake Pilon to make 43 saves in an incredible game star effort. Combined with some timely goals 5 on 5, including a snipe by Justin Giacomin which served as the game-winner, the Canucks skated away with a 2-1 victory and a sweep in the season series with the Oil Barons. The momentum the team built up in their previous efforts carried over to the weekend. The Canucks have hit some roadblocks along the way, including a 5-2 defeat in Olds last month, but still, remain 4 points up on the Grizz for the final playoff spot in the south.

It may not seem significant, but any amount of playoff hockey will be huge for this team's progression. Getting to see what it’s like to play at the highest level at the biggest pressure point in the season can give you an inner drive like nothing else could. That experience is invaluable, so locking up that spot is important to do. Sunday afternoon was a big day for the organization. Robin Laycock was an incredible junior A player. He holds not only the Canucks goal scoring record, but the AJHL record for most goals scored in a single season (80), most points by a rookie (128) and the 3rd highest points ever scored in a single season (153). Impressive stats and Laycock was on hand for a ceremonial puck drop prior to the game and was presented a golden stick by the organization. It’s always cool to see our alumni come back and show their love. The Canucks have some of the richest history in the entire AJHL and there’s no shame in celebrating that. The team played with spirit out shooting, outplaying, and sprinting out to a 4-0 lead. The Lloydminster Bobcats seemed overwhelmed, unable to match Calgary’s will and determination. Brett Balas got the nod between the pipes and played lights out. Perfect through the first 50 minutes before giving up a pair. The Captain Nic Herringer potted 2 goals and had a huge block in the late stages of the game earning the game star before Alex Heal capped the game with an empty net goal. Herringer continues to lead this team in the second half of the season, his game on Sunday gives him the team lead in that column with 28. Rookie Dylan Clark is just a point back and has played 6 less. Brandon Brazeau returned to the lineup for the first time in 17 games after serving his suspension, I caught up to him in the earlier game vs Fort McMurray.

Brazeau notched a goal on the power play, one of the team’s 3 on 5 opportunities. Special teams have improved as well, as the Bobcats managed nothing on 7 power plays. The Canucks go to Drumheller Friday night for a tilt with the Dragons, before returning home Saturday night to play the Sherwood Park Crusaders, another North Division team. Catch the action on HockeyTV.