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Elias Pettersson makes his presence felt in AHL debut as Abbotsford Canucks sweep weekend series

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Photo credit:X/@abbycanucks
Dave Hall
18 days ago
How Swede it is.
With the injection of two strong Swedish prospects, the Abbotsford Canucks managed to pull off a successful weekend to grab four crucial points against a division rival.
We won’t bore you with the statistics again, but let’s just say grabbing back-to-back wins has been quite the challenge for the team these days.
Well, they already broke the curse on Friday, claiming victory in game one of a doubleheader for the first time in weeks. So, why not kill two birds with one stone and sweep the weekend?
Friday marked the debut of Jonathan Lekkerimäki, the highly coveted prospect fresh off a stellar season in the SHL. Despite not tallying any points, he brought forth a sound performance, marked by strong puck protection and responsible two-way play. For a more in-depth look, you can refer to our previous “Farmies” report from Friday.
On Saturday, the Canucks doubled down, bringing in yet another Swede to the roster. This time, it was Elias Pettersson, a rugged 6-foot-4 defender. He replaced Filip Johansson, who seemed to have been shaken up in Friday’s match after taking a high hit on the boards.
Fans were eagerly awaiting Pettersson’s debut, marking the second consecutive game where they got to see one of the team’s prized prospects in action. He is known for being a bully on the ice, and in his debut, he certainly held up his end of the bargain.
In net, Zach Sawchenko received his second start of the season, looking to build on his strong performance with 34 saves from the previous week.
The Canucks opened the scoring early, just over a minute into the game. Linus Karlsson’s strong forecheck led to a turnover, which led to Max Sasson banging in the puck to the empty cage to extend his point streak to eight games.
With nine points during that span, Sasson sets a franchise record for the longest point streak by an Abby Canuck. He’s been a beaming light of consistency throughout the year, and right now, he’s leading this team down the stretch.
Despite taking the early lead, the Canucks struggled to generate much offence and managed just three shots on goal throughout the period.
The second period is when things got spicy, however.
Since a late hit by Keaton Middleton on Vasily Podkolzin back in October, animosity has been brewing between these two teams. With each game, the hostility seems to build, and tonight was no different.
Leave it to the new guy to spark a crowd, as Elias Pettersson wasted no time making his presence felt in the second.
Following a shorthanded goal by Colorado and a failed power play attempt by the Canucks, the sturdy rearguard caught Eagles’ forward Jason Polin with a late hit, introducing himself to the American Hockey League.
Pettersson’s hit resulted in an interference call, but not before it sparked one of many brawls in the game, with Pettersson and Jett Woo in the thick of it.
Pettersson was not done there. In his next shift after serving his penalty, he showcased his size again, disrupting plays in the corner and preventing the opposition from gaining momentum.
Midway through the period, Lekkerimäki received a rough welcome to the AHL as he was driven into the Eagles bench.
Can you guess who took initial liberties? That’s right, Elias Pettersson stepped in to defend his countrymen, leading to yet another skirmish. This time, however, Nick Cicek stepped in to take matters into his own hands and took over duties.
There was a good stretch of the second period where it certainly felt like the Elias Pettersson show. After just one game, it’s safe to say that he should fit right in…
Abbotsford struggled to generate offence once again in the second period, managing just four shots on goal, bringing their total to seven for the game.
The third period saw the Canucks take control, starting with a goal from Aatu Räty. After some effective cycling down low in the offensive zone, Max Sasson fired a weak shot toward the net. While causing disruption in front of the net, Räty managed to get a stick on the puck and deflect it past the goaltender.
The Finnish forward’s goal extended recent hot play, now sitting at 10 points over his last five games. Meanwhile, Sasson earned his second point of the night, adding to his tally of 10 points in eight games.
Later in the period, Räty got in the mix again, this time delivering a quick pass down low to Linus Karlsson on the power play. Stationed near the goal line, Karlsson used his momentum to swing across the net to jam home a wraparound goal to double the Canucks’ lead.
The tally awarded both Karlsson and Räty two points in the game, while Jett Woo added his fifth point in six games with the secondary assist.
Abbotsford sealed the victory with two empty-net goals, one by Karlsson and another by Matt Irwin.
Karlsson’s goal gave him and Max Sasson three points each on the night, while Woo notched his sixth point in as many games with yet another secondary assist.
With his trio of points, Karlsson surpassed Arshdeep Bains to take sole possession of the team’s points lead, boasting a point-per-game pace with 52 points.
In his second consecutive start, Sawchenko was solid, stopping 23 shots to secure the 5-1 victory, earning his second win of the season.
With the victory, the Canucks move into a tie with the Bakersfield Condors with 74 points, positioning themselves for the sixth spot in the division. They are also just three points behind the Colorado Eagles, who currently hold the third spot in the division. The race for playoff positioning is tight.
Abbotsford takes the season series against the Eagles with a record of 4-3-1-0 on the year. But not before Jett Woo said goodbye to the Colorado crowd, after taking down and enjoying a spirited bout with former Canuck product, Brad Hunt.
The Canucks travel back home to host the Manitoba Moose on Tuesday night, where they have a chance to clinch a playoff spot for the second consecutive season.

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