Bains, Wolanin, and a goaltending battle: 3 takeaways from Abbotsford Canucks’ 5-3 loss to the Ontario Reign
Photo credit:@abbotsfordcanucks on IG
By Dave Hall1 month ago
The Abbotsford Canucks had their three-game winning streak snapped by the Ontario Reign after suiting up for their fourth game in six days.
With Tristen Nielsen, Danila Klimovich, and Vasily Podkolzin all out of the lineup, lines got shuffled up and saw Alex Kannok Leipert and newly acquired Ty Glover fill in on the fourth line to make their debuts.
In net, Nikita Tolopilo got the nod for his third AHL appearance. He had delivered excellent performances in his first two starts, winning both games with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage.
With the loss, his record now stands at 2-1-0, with a 2.65 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. It’s still an impressive stat line for a goaltender who does not seem shaken by the increase in competition.
The Canucks continue to maintain a strong position in the Pacific Division, currently sitting in second place with a 5-2-1 record.
Their competitive and resilient nature is making it difficult for teams to hold them off, and they’ve shown that they just aren’t willing to go down without a fight.
On the other side, the Reign, who extended their winning streak to five games, had extra motivation to secure a win while playing with heavy hearts.
With the tragic news of the loss of many Ontario players’ x-teammate, Adam Johnson, the club had a further stream of motivation to lock down a win.
Johnson, just 29 years old, had a brief 42-game stint in Ontario during the 2020-22 season.
Despite the loss for the Canucks, it’s hard not to feel a connection to the storybook win for the Reign and tribute to a former teammate.
Now, let’s delve into three takeaways from the match.
Arshdeep Bains continues to roll
The early storyline of this team surrounds the local kid, Arshdeep Bains, who came into the game on a hot streak, riding a four-game point streak with eight (2G + 6A) during that span.
Along with his teammate, Christian Wolanin, he was tied for the AHL scoring lead with 12 points with Laval’s Joshua Roy.
Of course, Bains not only extended his impressive run but did so in insane fashion, delivering a beautiful no-look dish to his linemate, Sheldon Dries. This assist marked his 10th of the season and 13th point, which swung him to the top of the AHL’s scoring leaderboard.
Bains’ journey is simply one that everyone can get behind.
As an undrafted forward who excelled in the junior ranks, Bains has worked incredibly hard over the last year to add a more versatile skill-set to his repertoire, quickly transforming him into an excelling multi-use asset.
Now, as a 22-year-old AHL scoring leader, he’s not only racking up points but also playing significant minutes in every situation and excelling at both ends of the ice.
While the Vancouver Canucks have several gunners in their top-six, the bottom-half continues to lack production this season. You have to imagine that Bains’ sophomore performance has the Canucks’ upper brass paying very close attention.
At this point, him grabbing his first cup of coffee in the NHL seems like a matter of “when” and not “if.”
Do we have a goaltending controversy?
Heading into the season, it was clear that Arturs Silovs was expected to be the primary goaltender for Abbotsford, receiving the lion’s share of starts.
However, Nikita Tolopilo has made quite an impression in just his third AHL game and is displaying remarkable confidence.
Despite a loss and conceding four goals on 31 shots, he delivered another strong performance. His calm and composed demeanour between the pipes continues to impress, even in situations that typically require frantic saves.
He’s the spokesperson for cool, calm, and collected.
Silovs, on the other hand, has faced early-season struggles and is currently sitting at an underwhelming 3.32 goals against average and a 0.897 save percentage.
He had a much better showing in his most recent game in San Diego, stopping 26 of 28 shots and securing his third win of the season, which should help with his confidence levels. Even so, this situation has certainly created an interesting dilemma for Head Coach Jeremy Colliton moving forward.
With the season still in its early stages, we imagine that the club is likely to remain faithful to the plan.
For now, Silovs is the undisputed go-to, so while he may lose a few starts, he should continue to get the benefit of the doubt. That is, unless a continued stretch of poor play changes the course.
Perhaps, there could be a real goaltending battle brewing, after all.
Christian Wolanin, Josh Bloom and Ty Glover
Christian Wolanin, who was tied for the scoring lead with Arshdeep Bains and Joshua Roy at 12 points, secured an assist during the game. This allowed him to climb to the top of the board, tied with his Abbotsford teammate at 13 points.
The 28-year-old is coming off of an outstanding season last year, with 55 points (6 goals and 49 assists) in 49 games.
Through eight games this season, he’s on pace to shatter those numbers and is currently projected to score nine goals and record 117 points.
Of course, that number is ridiculous and extremely inflated, but it’s going to be intriguing to keep an eye on his performance and wonder when it will be enough to earn him another opportunity with the Vancouver Canucks.
At this point, it seems like the only thing working against him is the fact that he shoots from his left side.
Ty Glover, who was recently brought in from the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, was called up to make his debut with the Canucks.
Since the trade, he’s suited up in two games with the Kalamazoo Wings and cashed in for a goal and two assists.
While he didn’t see much ice time, the 23-year-old brings good size and skates quite well. He may only last until a few injuries heal, but he should bring a nice boost to the club’s bottom-six whenever he gets the nod.
Josh Bloom, a player we’ve discussed a few times since his debut last week, continues to bring an intriguing package to the team. He plays with tons of energy and creates scoring opportunities by forcing turnovers and being a pest out there.
He has “fan favourite” written all over him.
Until tonight, he hadn’t found the scoresheet, but he grabbed his first AHL point with an assist on Jett Woo’s first goal of the year.
Bloom’s style of play aligns well with a bottom-six role, but he also has a history of contributing offensively. While it may not happen this year, he has tons of potential to become a valuable member of the team’s top-six over the next few seasons.
This team is generating an exciting buzz, and it certainly feels like something special could be forming out there in Abbotsford.
The Canucks continue their road trip as they head to Coachella Valley, where they are set to take on the Firebirds at 7:00 PM on Tuesday.
Recent articles from Dave Hall