The Canucks came into 2020 with a lot of optimism, sitting third place in the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League standings.
They started the new year at the St. James Civic Centre with a 4-1 win over the St. Boniface Riels. Zach Greenwood, Chris Sass, Brady Whitely and Kieran Ursel scored for the Canucks and Noah Gilbert picked up the win in net stopping 26 of 27 shots.
Next up was another home game against the league leading Pembina Valley Twisters on Sunday, Jan. 5. The Canucks would come out on the right side of a 4-3 score. Kale Price scored a pair of goals in the game, with Brady Whitely and Cam Brakel adding goals as well. Rookie forward Carson Miller had two assists.
Gilbert picked up his second straight win to start 2020, stopping 33 of 36 shots.
Two days later the Canucks had another tough task, hosting the St. Vital Victorias.
Despite the challenge, the Canucks were able to come out on top again, winning 4-3 for the second straight game.
Chris Sass, Kieran Ursel, Kale Price and Craig Wiess scored for the Canucks, who also got a 41-save performance from veteran net-minder Nathan Cvar. Trent Halfdanson had two assists in the win as the Canucks improved to 18-10-0.
The Canucks followed that up with a dominant 9-3 win over the River East Royal Knights on Friday, Jan. 10.
Rookie forward Jalen Hoilett and fellow forward Chris Sass both had two goals in the game, with Brady Whitely, Kale Price, Zach Greenwood, Trent Halfdanson and Adam Thurlbeck adding goals as well.
Cvar picked up his second straight win, stopping 43 of 40 shots.
Up next was the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League showcase at Bell-MTS Iceplex the weekend of Jan. 17, 18 and 19.
It was a tough weekend for the Canucks, who dropped back-to-back games against the Raiders Junior Hockey Club and Ft. Garry/Ft. Rouge Twins on the Saturday and Sunday.
Against the Raiders, Cole Chicoine and Graeme Shingleton scored for the Canucks, while Nathan Cvar took the tough luck loss in net, stopping 36 of 39 shots.
The next day the Canucks offence struggled to get going again, losing 4-2 to the Twins. Chris Sass and Kieran Ursel scored for the Canucks, who got a 34 save performance from Noah Gilbert and watched their record drop to 19-12-0.
The Canucks looked to bounce back against the Transcona Railer Express on Sunday, Jan. 26. Unfortunately it was another tough day for the Canucks, who could only muster 23 shots in a 3-1 loss.
Jalen Hoilett scored the lone Canucks goal with assists from Carson Miller and Cam Danylchuk.
Cvar was solid in net again but took another tough loss, stopping 33 of 36 shots.
The Canucks wrapped up this stretch in St. Boniface against the Riels on Monday, Jan. 27 as they looked to snap out of their slump.
They would do just that with a 4-3 win.
Cole Chicoine (2G 1A) and Kurtis Luke (1G 2A) had multi-point games to lead the Canucks offensively and Noah Gilbert stopped 40 of 43 to pick up the win.
The victory moved the Canucks record to 20-13-0, which is good enough for 4th place in the MMJHL standings.
Chalk Talk Three Stars:
Kale Price: The rookie forward had four goals and four assists during this eight game stretch and is tied with Kurtis Luke for the team lead in points with 24.
Chris Sass: The veteran pivot lit the lamp five times and added four assists during this stretch. He has tied his MMJHL career high for points in a season in 14 less games played with 21.
Nathan Cvar/Noah Gilbert: The Canucks goaltenders were solid during this stretch as they have been all year. They have gone 5-3-0 in the new year with a combined .925 save percentage.
The Canucks wrap up the month of January hosting the Charleswood Hawks on Friday the 31st. After that they begin a tough stretch of games against Stonewall, Pembina Valley and St. Vital.