As we know, there have been all sorts of EBUG situations this season with COVID-19 and the protocols surrounding testing, but it became a huge problem for the Vancouver Canucks and Abbotsford Cancuks on Sunday when three of their goalies were placed into COVID-19 protocol. Normally, Vancouver would recall a goalie from their AHL club, the Abbotsford Canucks, but, as stated, Abbotsford was having their own mini-emergency surrounding their goaltending situation. That forced the Canucks at both the NHL and AHL levels to look elsewhere, and they went to their own backyard for solutions!
It was a pretty big night for all of Canada West, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds men’s hockey program, and the Trinity Western Spartans men’s hockey program as a couple of players got called up to the big leagues for one night!
Rylan Toth, who has arguably been the best netminder in Canada West men’s hockey for the UBC Thunderbirds this season, had his phone ring in the afternoon as the Vancouver Canucks needed him to backup starter Michael Di Pietro against St. Louis. Louis. Clearly, this is a huge opportunity that was presented to Rylan.
Meanwhile, down in Langley, BC, Talor Joseph, starting netminder for the Trinity Western Spartans men team, had his phone ring in the afternoon as the Abbotsford Canucks needed him to backup starter Joe Murdaca against the San Diego Gulls! Without any delay, I assume, both men grabbed their respective gear and were off to join their respective professional teams!
Wearing the same # 31 he wore when he played with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, Toth was on the ice for warmups against the Blues with the Canucks! Toth, for those asking, normally wears # 34 with the Thunderbirds which is not worn by a current Canucks player as far as I could find, so one has to wonder if there’s some significance to the # 31 that Toth chose to wear for Vancouver . In any case, the nvay blue-and-yellow pads that he wore certainly stood out as being distinctly the colors of the Thunderbirds, but Rylan looked good standing in NHL blue paint!
The only negative news on this night was that Toth never got a chance to make a few stops in the game against St. Louis. While Di Pietro played well, it was a game that the Canucks would drop by a 3-1 score when the final horn sounded. Toth does not get to record any NHL stats per se, but he does get himself his very own Canucks jersey on a night where he got to watch the game from the best seat in the house. Toth can take a few stories back to the Thunderbirds about Bruce Boudreau’s speeches between periods, what advice the players may have had for him as he prepared for his first NHL warmup, and his overall experience as an NHL netminder!
Meanwhile, one hour away in Abbotsford, Talor Joseph was gearing up for his debut with the Canucks as well. The only difference was he was suiting up for the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks! Joseph donned his jersey that saw him wear # 30, a number I do not believe he’s worn before in his career, for the game against San Diego. For the record, Joseph wears # 35 for Trinity Western, but has a long history of wearing # 1, a number he wore with both the OUA’s Nipissing Lakers and the MJHL’s Portage Terriers. In any case, Talor Joseph was on the ice and taking shots in warmup from his new AHL teammates in case he was called upon in his game!
Like Toth, Joseph was not pressed into action on Sunday, but he did have a good vantage point as the Abbotsford Canucks defeated the San Diego Gulls by a 4-2 score. He will get to take home his very own AHL jersey for future “look what I did” conversations, but the experiences he had last night – hearing head coach Trent Cull rally the troops before the game and in between periods, seeing players like Noah Juulsen and Madison Bowey clear bodies in front of him, and watching the preparation that some of the players do in getting ready for games at the professional level – will last for years. That kind of experience can not be obtained at the Canada West level very easily.
Some readers might be saying, “Yeah, but this was just a one-game emergency thing” which, of course, would not be wrong. But for a player like Rylan Toth who has stated that he wants to play hockey after he graduates, this is the chance to build relationships at the next level before arriving at that level.
Vancouver does not have an ECHL affiliate that they use exclusively if that’s the next opportunity that Toth sought, but Jim Rutherford knows plenty of people in hockey that might be willing to give Rylan Toth a shot. With Talor Joseph in the same situation, there could be two Canada West goalies suiting up in the ECHL or in a European league next season thanks to the relationships they’re building within the Canucks organization.
In saying that, the present news is exciting for Canada West fans like myself because we get to see these guys play regularly at rinks across western Canada. Talor Joseph, for example, will be at Wayne Fleming Arena in Winnipeg this weekend as Trinity Western visits the Manitoba Bisons, so there’s a chance to see one of the men above live and in-person at the end of the week! Those kinds of opportunities are what players in U SPORTS need in order to get that one break they seek, and I’m happy to see both Rylan and Talor getting their opportunities!
It was a big night where two players wore new jerseys as Canada West made an impact on both the NHL and AHL. There likely will be other opportunities that arise for players before this season is done, so here’s hoping we see more EBUGs come from the Canadian university scene! We already had two BCEBUGs on the same night!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!