Photo credit:© Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK
The Farmies: Arturs Silovs makes 32 saves in 4-2 loss to the Coachella Valley Firebirds
By Dave Hall2 months ago
The Abbotsford Canucks were back and ready to host the Coachella Valley Firebirds for the first of three consecutive matches.
Seeking revenge for their lopsided Halloween loss (8-3) in Coachella Valley, the Canucks entered the game with a red-hot 8-2-0 record, climbing up the Pacific Division and maintaining an unbeaten streak in their last five home games.
Of course, the reigning Western Conference champs boasted their own incredible run, recording an 8-1-0 slate away from home.
The matchup set the stage for a goaltending duel between Artūrs Šilovs and Chris Driedger, with both teams relying on their go-to netminders.
The lineup featured the interesting inclusion of Dmitri Zlodeev, formerly known as Zloedeyev, who drew in for his AHL debut.
Remember him? Well, despite not getting into any game action, he had been practicing with the team after signing a contract in October and was finally given the green light to throw on the gear.
The stage was set for a Pacific Division showdown. Let’s see how the teams fared in this highly anticipated matchup.
The opening five minutes of the game were anticlimactic, as both teams struggled to find their rhythm, resulting in a slow start to the contest.
Nearly five minutes elapsed before we saw the game’s first shot, and the Firebirds drew first blood, grabbing a shot on their first power play of the game.
As a pre-warning, penalties would play a major factor in this one.
Not only did we see tons of penalties, but many offered quite a bit of confusion.
Here, both the fanbase and commentators assumed the Canucks were heading to their first power play of the night.
However, in a turn of events, it appeared to have been Chase Wouters who would take two for roughing.
You’ll start to notice a trend, soon enough.
The questionable call left some wondering if the referees were simply attempting to inject some energy into a sluggish game or if it was just going to be “one of those nights”.
Regardless, it felt like a somewhat weak decision.
Following their first penalty kill of the evening, the Canucks’ top line quickly swung into action to open the scoring.
Goal – 1-0 – Sheldon Dries from Jack Studnicka and Tristen Nielsen
Tristen Nielsen initiated the rush, delivering a pass to Jack Studnicka, who threaded the puck through the defenders’ legs, which found its way to Sheldon Dries. As he has all season, he executed a skillful move to beat the goaltender with a backhand shot.
Sheldon Dries has been in excellent form recently, notching his team-leading 10th goal of the year, with three goals in the last four games.
Meanwhile, Tristen Nielsen continues to be a key contributor to the team, providing sparks through scoring crucial goals, creating plays, and energizing the team with impactful hits when he’s healthy.
Jack Studnicka wasted no time making an impact once again. Creating a turnover in the Firebirds’ end, Studnicka found himself on a breakaway. However, he struggled to settle the puck, allowing the defender to catch up and thwart the rush.
Did you miss it?
Yes, not only did Studnicka fumble the puck on the opportunity, but ended up taking two minutes for slashing, as he knocked the defender’s stick out of his hands.
Once again, fans assumed that the Canucks would embark on their first man advantage, and yet again, they were fooled.
The penalty led to several scoring opportunities for both teams.
First. it was Coachella Valley’s Andrew Poturalski, who showcased some slick moves, managing to open up Šilovs, who was down and vulnerable.
He attempted to stuff the puck in behind the goaltender, but Šilovs, displaying impressive athleticism, used his legs to catch the puck and maintain the one-goal lead.
At the other end, John Stevens applied pressure at the blueline, forcing a turnover.
Arshdeep Bains shovelled the puck through, setting up Stevens for a shorthanded breakaway. Despite being fresh off a three-goal weekend, Stevens couldn’t beat the opposing goaltender, running out of space with the puck.
After a few minutes of heavy power play action, the pace of the game reverted to its previous snail’s pace and slowed right down.
However, with two minutes remaining, things amped up quickly, after Alex Kannok Leipert was caught with a booming hit, which some argued was a touch high.
Although shaken, he remained in the game.
Of course, Marc Gatcomb, who swiftly came to his teammate’s aid, was having none of it and quickly initiated a fight.
While Gatcomb earned an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, his decision to stand up for his teammate was unquestionable.
Ask him, and you know he’d do it again.
The Canucks successfully closed out the period with another penalty kill, maintaining a perfect 3/3 record in the opening frame.
Arturs Šilovs, who was perfect through 20, was tested early and was forced to be sharp out the gate.
Just three minutes into the frame, Jacob Melanson made a nice play around Christian Wolanin, and powered his way through the crease, opening the netminder up and nearly squeaking one through.
Šilovs, displaying quick reflexes, stood tall and slid over to make a glove save.
A minute later, last week’s all-star line—Bains, Stevens, and Podkolzin—had their best scoring opportunity of the game.
After Podkolzin battled for the puck in the corner, the trio made their way up the ice. Bains delivered a drop pass to Podkolzin, who found himself with a point-blank chance.
And now, brace yourself for perhaps the strangest goal you will ever see here at The Farmies.
Goal – 1-1 – Cameron Hughes (unassisted)
Jett Woo took a shot that deflected off of Firebirds’ Cameron Hughes’ shin pad and travelled the length of the ice. In what should have been a routine play, Šilovs initially grabbed the puck but began to bobble it, reminiscent of Martin Brodeur in the 2003 playoffs.
Struggling to control it, Christian Wolanin attempted to intervene and save the day but ended up doing the opposite.
Upon closer inspection, Wolanin inadvertently shot the puck directly into his own net, resulting in one of the most peculiar and unfortunate goals you’re likely to witness.
We often hear the phrase ‘They don’t come much easier than that, folks.” and this could very well be the first time in the saying’s history that it speaks the truth.
Given that the last player to touch the puck was in the other zone, this will likely go down as the easiest goal Cameron Hughes will ever score.
Of course, that just got the Firebirds going.
Goal – 2-1 – Marian Studenic from Kole Lind and Shane Wright
Minutes later, they would score again, this time off another rebound from Šilovs, who couldn’t secure the puck with his catcher.
Credit to Studenic, who made a nice play to bat the puck out of the air. But again, that’s likely one that Šilovs would like a redo on from point-blank range.
Don’t worry, Tristen Nielsen is here, and he is red hot.
Goal – 2-2- Tristen Nielsen from Christian Wolanin and Aatu Räty
This play was all thanks to Jett Woo, who made a nice keep-in to keep the play alive just moments before.
The play continued, and Aatu Räty, who had been quiet up to this point, was able to get the puck to the point. From there, Wolanin put the puck on a tee for Nielsen, who was fresh off the bench and put everything he had into this one.
That’s his sixth in just nine games, his second point of the night, and his fourth in as many games.
To close out the period, if you can believe it, we had yet another ‘we thought the Canucks were heading to the man advantage’ play.
Here, you will see former Canuck legend, Kole Lind, rush through the crease, clipping Šilovs along the way. Of course, the entire time, he is being mauled by Kannok Leiper, who had a bit of a chip on his shoulder after getting dropped just a period before.
It’s clearly a penalty on one side, but fans were, and rightfully so, a little puzzled how both did not go.
Once again, the Canucks closed out the period with a big kill, going a perfect 4/4 in the game thus far.
The Canucks must have enjoyed an inspirational speech in the locker room as they came out pressing in the final period.
They had several early chances to go up in the game, including an opportunity from Sheldon Dries and a breakaway chance from Arshdeep Bains.
Bains, who shot out of a canning, got himself on a breakaway, but just could not solve the steady-eddy, Chris Driedger.
Driedger was solid in this game, and the Canucks appeared to have some spunk in the early minutes. However, the momentum was killed by a series of penalties in the remaining 15 minutes of the game.
After yet another big penalty kill, Jett Woo got into some physical action, sparking his team, which would lead to an eventual penalty on Coachella Valley.
For the first time since the first period, the Canucks went on the power play, but, as has been the case all season, they didn’t generate much offence.
After failing to score on their own, the Canucks found themselves in penalty trouble again, taking two penalties in succession and putting the Firebirds on an extended 5-on-3 power play.
Goal – 3-2 – Shane Wright from Andrew Poturalski and Cale Fleury (PP)
Andrew Poturalski, who had been buzzing all night, threaded a cross-ice feed to Shane Wright, who made no mistake for his team-leading ninth goal.
The Canucks pressed in the final five minutes, pulling their goalie and trying to find the equalizer, but despite their efforts, they couldn’t overcome the deficit.
Goal – 4-2 – Tucker Robertson (Unnassited) (EN)
The game ended with an empty-net goal, and the Canucks dropped this one 4-2, snapping their five-game winning streak.
The Canucks showcased moments of strong play, but ultimately found themselves to blame for the loss. It’s a challenging feat to secure a victory when spending a third of the game with a man down. Accumulating 16 minutes in penalties proved costly for the team.
4-2 Coachella Valley Firebirds
Shots – 36-25 Coachella Valley Firebirds
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
The third star of this game goes to Sheldon Dries, who got the scoring going and had several chances for the Canucks to take this game. The veteran has been a strong presence for the team this year and was one of the Canucks’ few bright stars.
The second star of the game goes to Artūrs Šilovs. Despite allowing three goals in the effort, he made 32 saves and was steady throughout the game. In reality, this match could have gotten out of hand, had it not been for the strong performance. And yeah, we will just forget that first goal and move on.
Tonight’s first star goes to the bulldog, Tristen Nielsen. He potted a goal and an assist and was providing his usual antics on the ice in an attempt to spark his club. The 23-year-old continues to paint an edgy picture and has become a true fan favourite amongst this group.
Next up on the Docket
These two are set for a rematch on Saturday night, as they return to the Abbotsford Centre for game two, of three, at 7:00 PM.
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