Nucks News – January 2024

Calgary Canucks Gavin Schmidt #15 plays against the Blackfalds Bulldogs on December 18, 2023
Recap by Mackenzie Grafton

The Canucks roll into 2024 holding a record of 20-16-2 after picking up four wins in December, capping the year off with a New Year’s Eve win over the Blackfalds Bulldogs. 

Early in the month, Calgary acquired forward Jack Plandowski from the Drayton Valley in exchange for future considerations. Plandowski had 26 points in 72 AJHL games with the Drayton Valley Thunder and Blackfalds Bulldogs before joining the Canucks. 

December also saw Gavin Garland and Team Canada West take home gold at the 2023 World Junior A Challenge in Truro, Nova Scotia. 

Player Spotlight – #15 – Gavin Schmidt

In his second season with the Canucks, forward Gavin Schmidt has reached the ten-goal mark, along with picking up 17 assists for 27 points this season. In December, Schmidt picked up two goals and seven points and was even called up for WHL game action by the Calgary Hitmen. Schmidt scored his first WHL point with an assist in the December 15th game matchup against the Medicine Hat Tigers.  

December Recap 

December 2nd vs Bonnyville Pontiacs

The Canucks would jump out to a 2-0 lead over two periods of play with goals from Ben Buckley and Gavin Schmidt. In the third period, the Pontaics would score two goals moments apart to tie the game up at 2-2. Captain Bowden Singleton would break the tie with a goal with under five to play. Trailing 3-2, Bonnyville would send this game to overtime when they tied it up with 2:16 remaining. Halfway into the extra frame, Sam Lozinski would score his tenth of the season to edge the Pontaics with a 4-3 win. 

December 3rd vs Fort McMurray Oil Barons

Ben Binder-Nord scored his first goal in the AJHL, along with Ty Hipkin making it 2-0 in the first period. After a scoreless second, the  Canucks would find themselves with another 2-0 lead heading into the third period. The Oil Barons would make it a tie game with a pair of goals from Simon Gaul. After a scoreless overtime, the Canucks would outlast the Oil Barons to win this game in the sixth round of the shootout. 

December 8th @ Whitecourt Wolverines

Easton Hewson would kick things off for the Canucks in Whitecourt making it a 1-0 game at seven and a half minutes into the game. Later that period, the Wolverines would tie it up at 1-1. After scoring twice in the second, Whitecourt would take a 3-1 lead in the third period. With 39 seconds to play, Gavin Schmidt would cut into the deficit with his tenth of the season, but the Canucks would fall short 3-2 in Whitecourt.  

December 9th @ Grande Prairie Storm

Another early goal, this time from Ethan Casper got the Canucks going for the second game on consecutive nights. Grande Prairie would respond 50 seconds later to tie the game, and Matt Corbet would score another goal against his former team. Just over the middle point of the opening period, Ty Hipkin would tie the game at 2-2 on the powerplay. In the final few minutes, the storm would again take the lead and jump out to a 5-2 game in the second. Zephyr LaPlante, cut into the lead to make it 5-3 at the 10:34 mark of the second. In the third, the Storm would score three more times, while Sam Lozinski would score a lone Canucks goal for the 8-4 final in favour of Grande Prairie. 

December  10th @ Grande Prairie Storm

For the third night in a row and the second in Grande Prairie, the Canucks got set for another game. After allowing the first goal, Kenny Sutton would tie up at 1-1 with under five to play in the first period.  In the second, Bowden Singleton would score between two Storm goals, for a 3-2 game in favour of Grande Prairie. Canucks would try to push back in the third, with goaltender Julian Molinaro fighting off all ten Grande Prairie shots. But the Canucks would drop this game 4-2, as the Storm sealed it with an empty net goal. 

December 16th @ Drumheller Dragons

For the final game of a four-game road trip, the Canucks would fall 6-0 to the Drumheller Dragons.  

December 18th vs Blackfalds Bulldogs

Last home game of 2023 for the Canucks as returned home to host the Blackfalds Bulldogs. In the first period, a pair of goals from Jack Plandowski on his former team got the Canucks out to a 2-0 lead. In the second the Bulldogs would get on the board with a goal making it a 2-1 game. Just under five minutes into the third period Gavin Garland, who had just returned from the 2023 World Junior A Challenge, would make it a 3-1 game. An empty net goal from Sam Lozinski would seal it as the Canucks would snap the four-game skid and win it 4-1.

December 22nd @ Canmore Eagles

The Canucks would hit the road to Canmore to take on the Eagles before the holiday break. In the first, it was all Calgary who had the edge in shots 14-6 but was unable to solve the previous week’s AJHL Defensive Player of the Week, Matthew Malin. In the second, the tide had turned as the Eagles outshot the Canucks 15-4 and picked up the game’s first goal. 61 seconds into the third, Riley Bracko would tie this game up at 1-1. On a late powerplay, Canmore would break the tie and go on to add an empty net goal for a 3-1 victory. Despite the Outcome, Julian Molinaro was named the 1st star of the game, stopping 29 of 31 shots. 

December 31st @ Blackfalds Bulldogs

Adam Leitch got the party started on New Year’s Eve with his first AJHL goal to make it 1-0 for the Canucks. In the second Riley Bracko would make it 2-0 picking up his fifth goal of the season. The Bulldogs would not go down quietly as they heated up for three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead. Needing a comeback in the third, Riley Hearn would give the Canucks some life as he scored a shorthanded goal to tie this game up.  Moments later Calgary would get some more action as Ty Hipkin took the lead with his 15th of the season. Sam Lozinkis would keep it going making it 5-3 with the Canucks scoring three goals all within two minutes and 37 seconds. Gavin Garland would seal it with an empty net goal in the 6-3 victory and 20th win of the season. 

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