A franchise in turmoil.
A Vancouver home opener that ended with four jerseys and probably at least one twenty-dollar beer thrown on the ice.
A home opener that saw Canucks players booed simply for touching the puck.
A home opener that saw the team arguing with each other on the ice on their way to losing their sixth straight game.
Heck, even the between-whistles Sweet Caroline sing-along got booed!
Post game, the President of Hockey Ops suggested they “might need a rebuild with the way Vancouver is playing,” and the frustrated, extension-less captain stated a day later that “at this point in the season, it just feels like it’s never going to happen, like we’re never going to win again.”
The organization turned to the Abbotsford Canucks to provide them with a ray of sunshine; a ray of positivity powerful enough to break through the storm clouds brewing over Rogers Arena.
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Unfortunately, the ray of sunshine wasn’t meant to be. The Farm’s issues mirrored the same issues plaguing Vancouver over this tragic start to the season: poor goaltending, a bad power play, and multiple blown leads.

Starting Lineup

Technically returned to Abbotsford after Vancouver’s 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, Noah Juulsen did not make the return trip to Seattle to play in Sunday’s rematch. Presumably because Juulsen had just played the previous night, the organization wouldn’t make him drive up and down the I5 twice in 48 hours. Juulsen’s absence opened the door for Alex Kannok Leipert to make his season debut.
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Also making his 2022-23 season debut was rookie defenceman Quinn Schmiemann, who replaced an either injured or recalled Guillaume Brisebois.
The Canucks opted to run it back with Arturs Silovs between the pipes with Collin Delia backing up. You have to wonder what happens with Mikey DiPietro; being scratched in three of four games has to be frustrating.
The CV Firebirds were without starting goaltender Joey Daccord, who the Seattle Kraken recalled after losing Phillip Grubauer to injury late in their Friday night game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Game 4

1st Period
The game started about as bad as it could. After an early chance generated by Phil Di Giuseppe, the Firebirds immediately retaliated with a goal from Jimmy Schuldt off a Brogan Rafferty rebound.
Coachella Valley Firebirds Goal: 1-0 Birds
Jimmy Schuldt from Brogan Rafferty and Alexander True:
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Minutes after the Firebirds’ goal, captain Chase Wouters responded with a crushing hit on Ville Petman inside the neutral zone.
The solid hit drew a response from Coachella Valley’s John Hayden, who promptly dropped the gloves with the awaiting Wouters. Because Hayden threw his gloves off first, he drew a two-minute minor for instigating to give the Canucks the game’s first power play.
PP1: Wolanin, Klmiovich, Dries, Lockwood, Nielsen
Though they’d fail to generate any shots on goal, Abbotsford’s first power play unit smothered the Firebirds with effective offensive zone pressure until a clearance brought the second unit onto the ice.
PP2: Hirano, Kalynuk, Karlsson, Stevens, Di Giuseppe
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 1-1 Tie
Yushiroh Hirano from Phil Di Giuseppe and Wyatt Kalynuk:
Immediately off the zone entry, the Canucks’ second power play unit capitalized to even things up at one. Yushiroh Hirano picks up his first goal of the season with a howitzer of a one-timer off a pass from Di Giuseppe.
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The Hirano goal was pretty funny because that made it two goals on two shots from both teams.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 2-1 Canucks
Christian Wolanin from Will Lockwood:
Both teams’ netminders were not looking sharp through the first ten minutes of play. Nor was the defence. After an impressive preseason, Wolanin had struggled to find his footing in Abbotsford. Wolanin found his groove early at the Climate Pledge Arena, showing off some fancy footwork to turnstile Andrew Poturalski and give Abbotsford their first lead.
Naturally, in true Canuck fashion, the Farm lost the lead.
Almost immediately after.
Coachella Valley Firebirds Goal: 2-2 Tie
Tye Kartye from Andrew Poturalski and Jesper Froden:
Twenty-nine seconds after Wolanin’s highlight-reel goal, Tye Kartye, alone at the net front, flicked a shot over Silovs’ glove side to tie the game at two.
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Silovs had allowed two goals on only three shots less than ten minutes into the period. A rough start for the rookie netminder.
Fortunately, the Firebirds fell into penalty troubles, with Eddie Wittchow taking a two-minute minor for interference, followed by Luke Henman. The latter went to the box for a two-minute delay of game penalty. The back-to-back penalties gave the Abbotsford Canucks a minute-long two-man advantage.
The Farm’s 1st power play group dominated the Firebirds with chances but could not find the back of the net.
More penalty trouble for the Firebirds gave the Canucks their fourth power play opportunity of the game with nearly eight minutes remaining in the opening frame.
Fourth-line winger Michael Regush drew the initial tripping penalty after going down hard from a chop to the midsection from Coachella Valley’s Max McCormick.
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Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 3-2 Canucks
Danila Klimovich from Sheldon Dries:
The Farm found success once more on the power play, off a neutral zone turnover that saw Danila Klimovich enter the zone and show off his ridiculous release for the team’s second go-ahead goal.
Like their previous lead, Klimovich’s power play lead-generator would not survive as the game-winner. The Firebirds would score another soft one with less than five minutes remaining, their third goal on their seventh shot.
Coachella Valley Goal: 3-3 Tie
Carsen Twarynski from Peetro Seppala and Kole Lind:
While Silovs wasn’t his sharpest on the opening goal, the Firebirds’ second and third goals resulted from poor goalmouth coverage by the defence and an unlucky last-second direction change. Silovs finished the period having saved just seven of ten, while his opposition, Chris Gibson, would save only five of eight.
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No, it was not a great night for the goalie guild’s treasured son, Arty Silovs.
After drawing four straight penalties, the Canucks would finally take one for themselves, with Sheldon Dries taking a turn in the box for interference.
PK1: Wouters, Stevens, Woo, Keeper
Brady Keeper was the hero for the first PK unit, disrupting the Firebirds’ cycle, picking off a point shot, and clearing the zone for a full line change.
PK2: Lockwood, Karlsson, Kannok Leipert, Wolanin
The second PK unit would kill off an additional thirty seconds, with Wolanin blocking a shot and Linus Karlsson clearing the zone for the first unit to come back on the ice.
Ironically, Silovs would look his sharpest while facing the Firebirds’ power play.
5v5 was another story.
2nd Period
Forty seconds into the middle frame, Silovs would allow another brutally soft goal to give the Firebirds a lead.
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Chase Wouters continued the “Abbotsford penalty killers: take a dumb penalty challenge.” With a high-sticking infraction two minutes into the period.
Fortunately, the Canucks’ PK came up huge with their first shorthanded goal of the season from the local kid, Michael Regush.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 4-4 Tie
Michael Regush from John Stevens:
Regush’s shorty would end Gibson’s night, with Callum Booth coming in to relieve him of his post.
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Now, I know you’re sensing a trend here, and you’re asking yourself, “did the Firebirds score another to regain the lead?”
Yes.
Yes, they did.
Coachella Valley Firebirds Goal: 5-4 Firebirds
John Hayden from Austin Poganski and Callum Booth:
The glove-side snipe did not spell the end of Silovs’ night. Hirano’s floating backcheck may pass if you’re JT Miller, but the team needed him to commit harder to disrupt Hayden’s wide-open scoring opportunity.
Hayden’s go-ahead goal was Silovs’ fifth goal allowed on fifteen shots.
Hirano looked to make amends for his half-hearted backcheck by blocking a hard shot and sweeping the puck out of the zone to end the Firebirds’ pressure.
The Firebirds would quickly re-enter the zone off Hirano’s clearance, leading to another goal. It was a weird sequence, as the refs initially waved off the goal due to goaltender interference.
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Coachella Valley Firebirds goal: 6-4 Firebirds
Ryker Evans from Kole Lind and Max McCormick:
The sell on the goaltender interference would have easily been Silovs’ best play of the evening. Coachella Valley’s Alexander True did make contact with Silovs on the goal, but not enough to sell an interference call. The goal from Evans made it six goals on eighteen shots for Silovs.
The two teams would trade power plays late in the second, but both failed to generate any dangerous looks.
3rd Period
Ex-Canuck Brogan Rafferty would resume the special teams duel after sending Tristen Nielsen head first into the endboards.
Nielsen appeared to be okay after the hit and returned to the bench without assistance and would take a spin with the second power play group minutes later.
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Ultimately, the Canucks power play failed to generate anything of value.
Jesper Froden and Yushiroh Hirano would trade penalties that sent the game to two minutes of four on four. The Canucks’ most dangerous look would come after the four-on-four, with Hirano cruising toward the Firebird’s net immediately after leaving the penalty box.
Hirano’s solo drive down the left wing was an impressively quick effort from a forward not known for his one-on-one foot speed. Hirano would finish the game with an ugly negative-4 plus/minus, being on-ice for four goals against, all at 5v5.
The Farm eventually lost Michael Regush to injury just past the midway point of the third period after being checked head-first into the dasher, not unlike Mark Borowiecki on Saturday.
The play was quite scary as Regush would stumble, attempting to skate himself back to the bench. Fortunately, the stumble forced the referees to acknowledge his potentially severe injury and blow the play dead.
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With six minutes left in the period, a hooking penalty taken by Coachella Valley’s Jimmy Schuldt gave the Canucks their seventh power play opportunity.
Colliton pulled Silovs to the bench for the two-man advantage but could only muster one shot from Di Giuseppe, which would rattle off the post and out of the zone.
A pretty passing play set up by Will Lockwood nearly put the Canucks within one, but relief-netminder Callum Booth would repeatedly come up huge for the Firebirds.
With Silovs at the bench for the extra attacker, the Farm held the Firebirds inside the d-zone for nearly seven minutes, generating nine shots on Booth.
After an agonizingly long shift from the Canucks forward groups, the Firebirds would sink an empty netter with five seconds left in the game.
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Lockwood, Karlsson, Nielsen, Wolanin, Di Giuseppe, and Dries were on the ice for almost the entirety of the final five minutes of the game.
Zero gas in those legs as they desperately looked to get themselves within one.
After going two for eight on the power play and giving up two one-goal leads, the Abbotsford Canucks two-game win streak ends in ugly, ugly fashion.

Scoresheet

Coachella Valley Firebirds defeat the Abbotsford Canucks 7-4

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

  1. Michael Regush — 1st goal as a Canuck
  2. Phil Di Giuseppe — first point of the year, three shots on goal
  3. The 150 Abbotsford season ticket members who drove down to Seattle only to see them get throttled.

Next Up on the Docket

The Abbotsford Canucks head home for a six-game homestand starting with a Friday/Saturday doubleheader against the San Diego Gulls.
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