Danila Klimovich scores first goal of the season as Abby Canucks split weekend series vs. San Diego

Photo credit:@abbotsfordcanucks on IG
Dave Hall
3 months ago
This weekend, the Abbotsford Canucks hosted the San Diego Gulls in a weekend doubleheader at the Abbotsford Centre.
Their prior encounter earlier in the season resulted in a convincing win for the Canucks in San Diego, giving them an early series lead back in October.
Since then, the teams have gone in opposite directions, with the Gulls facing a nose dive in the standings while the Canucks have maintained a competitive position in the Pacific Division.
This weekend, both teams secured a victory, leading to a split in the weekend series.
The Canucks faced significant injury challenges over the weekend, with key players absent from the lineup.
Christian Wolanin, Sheldon Dries, Ty Glover, and Dmitri Zlodeev were all sidelined due to injuries. Additionally, Linus Karlsson was called up to Vancouver on Friday morning, causing him to miss Saturday night’s game.
Luckily, Karlsson, who was reassigned to Abbotsford shortly before the match, rode in on a white horse to fill out the lineup in Sunday’s matchup.
Let’s delve into how these roster adjustments unfolded.
Game one: Saturday, January 20
On a jam-packed ‘Cowboys Night’ at the Abbotsford Centre, Nikita Tolopilo earned his second consecutive start, entering the match riding a two-game winning streak, allowing just three goals on 60 shots in that span.
Despite ending up with the 4-3 loss, the Belarusian goaltender showcased several notable moments, none more memorable than this stone-cold glove save from point-blank range during the opening frame of the game.
Although he conceded four goals in the game, there were a couple that he had no shot at saving. One was an unfortunate and speedy deflection off his defender’s skate, while the other was a laser snapshot from Richmond’s own, Glenn Gawdin.
With that said, there is a good chance that he went to bed thinking of the other two goals allowed. Both relatively uncontested, with no traffic, Tolopilo was cleanly beaten on both occasions, with the second leading to be the eventual game-winning goal.
The 23-year-old continues his solid AHL rookie year, sporting a 9-6-0 record, to go with a .902 save percentage. He exudes a certain calmness between the pipes and has been giving head coach Jeremy Colliton some tough decisions on a game-by-game basis.
Colliton caught up with Abbotsford play-by-play host Brandon Astle during the first intermission.
“He’s a big body and finds a way to get in front of pucks,” Colliton said. “He’s made some big saves for us and has got us wins when we’ve needed them.
Scoring wise, it was ECHL call-up Josh Passolt who got the Canucks on the board, scoring his first goal as a member of the Canucks and second of his short AHL career (eight games). The 27-year-old was called up after the Canucks had taken several hits in the injury department.
Showing off some tremendous board work, Alex Kannok Leipert managed to get the puck toward the net where Passolt pounced on the rebound.
Passolt now has a goal and an assist through seven games with the Canucks, while producing 17 points in 25 games down in Kalamazoo (ECHL).
The assist was also Kannok Leipert’s first point of the year. A natural defenceman, he’s been suiting up as an extra forward as of late.
Later in the period, John Stevens, who continues to enjoy time alongside Vasily Podkolzin and Arshdeep Bains, provided an unassisted effort to bring them within one before the opening break.
After nearly cashing in off the Podkolzin cross-ice feed, Stevens tenaciously stayed with the puck, as he typically does, and managed to catch the Gulls’ netminder off guard, who had lost track of who had it on their stick.
Stephens continues to capitalize on his new top-line opportunity and, with the goal, officially matched his point totals from last season with 11 goals and 19 points on the year.
That 3-2 score held until the six-minute mark of the third, where the two Canuck defenders, Cole McWard and Mark Friedman, found themselves on the rush.
After a sloppy pass from a San Diego player, Arshdeep Bains sent the puck across the ice, where the two Abbotsford defenders had detected an opportunity to join the rush.
McWard dropped the pass back to Friedman in the slot, who made no mistake for his first goal as an Abbotsford Canuck.
This marked Friedman’s fourth point in three games since his reassignment, while Bains, in his 100th AHL game, extended his points streak to four games (six points).
With the assist, McWard snapped a six-game pointless skid and hit the 10-point mark in his rookie year.
Unfortunately, Olen Zellweger would officially take over the match, scoring his second of the night (seen above) to push his Gulls to a 4-3 victory in the first game of the weekend doubleheader.
Final score
San Diego defeats the Canucks 4-3
With the victory, the Gulls evened up the season series at one game apiece. The tiebreaker goes to the victor in Sunday’s battle.
Game two: Sunday, January 21st
On Sunday, the two teams faced off in a rare AHL afternoon game, with Arturs Silovs making his 23rd start of the season. He stopped 22 of 24 shots, securing his second win against the Gulls this season and snapping a two-game losing streak in the process.
With the exception of a late third-period push from the Gulls, Silovs faced few challenges. With minimal shots, there were no standout “huge” moments, and the game mostly involved him staying warm and making routine saves.
Both goals allowed were relatively weak and sneaky.
The first saw Gull Defenceman Drew Helleson fire off of a one-timer from the point, which appeared to handcuff Silovs to sneak past the far side. The second, late in the third period, was a deflected point shot, which managed to trickle past the netminder.
Looking over to the skaters, the opening frame sang a bit of a different tune than Saturday, as it was the Canucks who jumped out to a two-goal lead, thanks to a couple of goals by defenders.
First, Jett Woo slid in from the point to collect his fourth goal of the year. The goal was a result of terrific work from John Stevens, who absorbed the initial shot to the equipment before protecting the puck, drawing the Gulls’ netminder, Alex Stalock, out of position.
Woo capitalized on the opportunity, cashing in on the pass to open the game’s scoring and give the Canucks their first lead of the weekend.
That was Stephens–the lone player in the Canucks’ top 10 in scoring without an NHL contract–earning his second point of the weekend and bringing his season total to 20 points.
Filip Johansson doubled the Canucks lead later in the frame, firing a seeing-eye shot just seconds after stepping on the ice from the bench.
The pressure continued through the second and Danila Klimovich, in his 12th game of the season, finally etched his name into the goal column.
Max Sasson’s excellent effort and the questionable defending by the Gulls allowed Klimovich to take a few whacks at the puck before jamming it home, marking his first goal of the season.
If you look closely, you can almost see the monkey jumping off his back.
With the even-strength assists, Sasson continues his strong 5v5 output, sitting second on the team with 18 of his 21 coming at even strength. Cole McWard picked up his second assist of the weekend.
The Canucks extended their lead in the third period, courtesy of a determined effort from Aatu Räty, Jermaine Loewen, and eventual goalscorer Chase Wouters.
Following sustained pressure, Loewen fought for possession off a rebound, while Wouters slid in and capitalized with his fifth goal of the season. This marked Loewen’s second point of the season, while Räty ended a five-game pointless streak, reaching his 23rd point of the year.
Of course, there were still tons of games left.
Trailing by three goals, the Gulls opted to pull their goalie around the five-minute mark.
After a strong stretch of offensive push, Silovs finally cracked, allowing a deflected point shot to sneak by him and cut the lead in half (seen above).
The Canucks ultimately sealed the game with a Jett Woo empty-net goal from his own end, marking his first career multi-goal game in the American League.
Final score
Abbotsford wins 4-2
With the victory, they now take a 2-1 season series edge against the San Diego Gulls, stretching their season record to 21-13-2-1.
The teams are set to meet again soon, with both squads travelling on Monday for a Tuesday night match in San Diego.
That game will kick start a three-game road stretch for the Canucks, concluding with a two-game series in Bakersfield to round out the month of January.

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