Source: Niagara Falls Canucks Website
If you were to have told me from Sunday January 21st to Sunday January 28th it would be one of the biggest roller coasters you could ask for I would have said you were delusional. Well, sometimes hockey can be a funny sport. At the end of the day these are kids who are all human and things happen in the sport that you cannot got and even fathom sometimes.
Let’s start with Sunday January 21st at 6:30 in Collingwood. Niagara Falls only got on the scoreboard once with a from Taye Ladislao in the 2nd period, making it a 1 goal game at the time. With Collingwood scoring 2 goals in the 3rd the game ended in a 4-1 loss. But Niagara Falls held their own with the best team in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. This was no surprise to the Canucks diehards as Niagara Falls has played hard against Collingwood all season and has basically been in every game this season against the club. This took the Canucks record in January to 1-3.
Next was the game in Caledon against the Admirals on Thursday January 25th, where from the 2nd period on, it felt as if the Canucks really controlled the game. This would be the beginning of a 3 games in 4 nights stretch for the Canucks. Braeden O’Keefe a newer acquisition for the Canucks tied up the game with another new Canucks Luke Turn, Alex Hebblethwaite and Parker Forlin all scoring in the 3rd period giving the Canucks a big 4-2 victory over the Caledon Admirals. I really feel this was Braeden O’Keefe’s introduction game to the Canucks as he had 3 points on the evening and really made his presence known. You can see the poise and hockey IQ he has and its a great addition for the Canucks.
The Canucks took the trip back home seeing a 1-1 record in their rear view mirror as they took on the Oakville Blades who at the time were ranked 5th place in the Western Conference, while the Canucks are in 10th. If you look at Niagara Falls success this season, for the most part they dialled it in against some of the biggest and baddest teams who are ahead of them. This goes to show you the constant growth of this team and that they can play with any team on any given night. Oakville was a well rounded team but the Canucks hung with them every step, after 40 minutes it was 2-2. Early in the 3rd Oakville takes a 3-2 lead but the coaching staff made sure the players bent but never broke, sometimes adversity is the best thing for a team. A few minutes later, Alex Hebblethwaite pots home his 26th of the season (his second of the game) with a nifty between the legs goal catching Oakville’s net minder in no-mans land. 10 minutes later Wolf Giles puts the Canucks up 4-3 with 3 minutes left to play, putting it officially out of reach with his second goal of the night with 29 seconds left in the game, 5-3 Niagara Falls final.
In a rare Sunday 6pm game, the Cobourg Cougars in the Eastern Conference came into the Gale Centre riding a 3 game losing skid. Meanwhile the Canucks at this time were 3-3 in January winning 2 straight and having the momentum on their side as they continue to try and gain ground on the final playoff spot. 52 seconds into the game, a checking from behind penalty is enforced on Cobourg’s Parker Petraniak who hit Canucks Forward Alex Hebblethwaite aggressively into the boards. Hebblethwaite would not return to the game with what looked like a serious injury for the Canucks leading scorer. Petraniak received 5 and a game for the hit which Wolf Giles and the Canucks took advantage of going up 1-0 early. Unfortunately the Canucks would not get back on the scoreboard as Cobourg connected for 3 goals and 1 empty next goal with one second left in the game. What started out on a high note ended on a tough one as the Canucks may not have their leading scorer and someone who is an important leading in the dressing room for some time.
So in total the Canucks were 2-2 through the 7 day stretch and took some blows along the way but, this team is resilient and if you are close to the team or a fan who is coming out night in and night out you can feel there is something special brewing here for Niagara Falls, the talent seeps through the organization and from the goalies to the the forwards this looks like a team who can make some noise down the stretch. Finally, if you have not had the chance to watch a Canucks game this season come out to the Gale Centre for what is some exciting hockey night in and night out.