The Farmies: Colorado Eagles force game three despite valiant three-goal comeback effort from Abbotsford

Photo credit:X/abbycanucks
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
Apologies for missing Wednesday’s game one, folks.
Our prospect guru Dave Hall was busy with a prior engagement, and I had a last-minute emergency pop up that kept us away from covering the Abbotsford Canucks’ 4-2 victory against the Colorado Eagles.
The Farm team began their road to a Calder Cup Championship with a decisive road victory against a regular-season opponent with whom they split the results right down the middle. Across eight games, the Canucks won twice in regulation and in overtime while outscoring the Eagles 22 to 20 in the process.
On Wednesday night, the club saw Zach Sawchenko make 28 saves, as Tristen Nielsen and Sheldon Dries led the club with two points apiece, while Max Sasson and Arshdeep Bains led the team in shots, with four each.
On Friday night, the Abbotsford Canucks played 30 minutes of very awful hockey before mounting an incredible comeback to force overtime against a desperate opponent.
There was some good and a lot of bad. Let’s not ruin the good vibes of Vancouver’s 2-1 defeat of the Nashville Predators with negativity, and try to look on the bright side in this Playoff edition of the Farmies.
Let’s get into it!
Starting Lineup
Following Wednesday’s game, head coach Jeremy Colliton made a slight tweak to his roster: moving to a traditional 12F/6D rotation, with Cooper Walker sliding into the lineup and rookie prospect Elias Pettersson drawing out.
Game 2
1st period
As all AHL games tend to go, the game began with both teams shuffling the puck along the walls into the offensive zone for quick setups to the point for shots on goal.
Abbotsford struck first with Christian Wolanin piping a wrist shot off Ivan Prosvetov’s glove, caroming out of the zone.
Cooper Walker and Ty Glover had a bit of a rough start to game two, with the Eagles slicing and dicing through Abbotsford’s zone, looking for a shooting lane. Walker and Glover recovered to break the puck out of the d-zone by getting some well-timed sticks on Callahan Burke as he drove through centre.
Bains, who scored the game-winner against Colorado on Wednesday, led a two-on-one in the opening five minutes that was Prosvetov’s first real test—even if Bains hucked his shot dead center into Prosvetov’s chest.
Following an offensive zone faceoff, John Stevens drew a holding penalty against Cedric Pare to give Abbotsford the game’s first power play.
For the power play, Colliton rolled out the following units:
PP1: Sheldon Dries, Aatu Räty, Tristen Nielsen, Linus Karlsson, and Filip Johansson
PP2: Arshdeep Bains, Chase Wouters, Max Sasson, Aidan McDonough, and Christian Wolanin
The Canucks power play wasn’t great. Registering zero shots and one attempt from Sasson over the two minutes. The Eagles had better looks shorthanded than Abbotsford did with the man advantage.
Unsurprisingly, the team facing elimination from the Calder Playoffs was very assertive and dominant in the early goings of the period. The Canucks were all too willing to let the Eagles control the puck through the middle of the ice and all too weak in getting sticks on loose pucks for clearances. That lethargy led to Sawchenko making several triple-A saves to keep the game tied at zero.
Colorado’s Corey Schueneman had quite the period. He shattered Walker’s stick with a wrist shot from the point before picking up his rebound for a drive down the middle and a shot on Sawchenko through traffic.
The Eagles’ control and shot pressure paid off 13 minutes into the period, with Brad Hunt capitalizing on a brutal turnover from Aidan McDonough at the Canucks’ blue line to set up Nikolai Kovalenko for the first goal of the evening.
1-0 Eagles: Colorado Goal, Nikolai Kovalenko from Brad Hunt and Callahan Burke
Shortly after, Fredrik Olofsson sent a cross-ice feed past Nick Cicek to ex-Canuck Tanner Kero for the tap-in and the Eagles’ second goal in as many minutes.
2-0 Eagles: Colorado Goal, Tanner Kero from Fredrik Olofsson and Riley Tufte
The Canucks caught a break when Kovalenko took a tripping minor to give Abbotsford a second-straight power play opportunity. But for the second time, they could not create any legitimate scoring chances.
Fortunately, upon the return to 5-on-5, the Farm finally got their heads in the game. Aatu Räty led a three-on-two rush alongside Dries and Nielsen, eventually leading to his first of the playoffs and Abbotsford’s first of the game.
Nielsen started the goal sequence with some pizazz after driving on Prosvetov for a shot attempt. After losing his angle, Nielsen hooked the puck into his feet and executed a nasty stick twirl to bring the puck off his backhand for a shot attempt into the right corner.
After recovering his second attempt, Nielsen sent the puck up the boards to Cicek to gain separation before receiving a pass down low. Nielsen then spun out behind the goal line for a shot on Prosvetov from the right circle that deflected off Räty and into the net.
2-1 Eagles: Abbotsford goal, Aatu Räty from Tristen Nielsen and Nick Cicek
It wasn’t a pretty period, with Abbotsford getting outshot 8 to 5 while being dominated territorially throughout. Räty’s late goal in the final minute gave the team some life and salvaged an otherwise ugly start for the young farm team.
2nd period
The Eagles picked up where they left off in the first, dominating possession inside the Canucks’ zone. Abbotsford spent the entire opening four minutes hemmed inside the d-zone, with Colorado hammering away at Sawchenko with shot attempts.
After six minutes, the Canucks finally broke the puck out of the d-zone, whereupon Chase Wouters threw a blind backhand pass through the neutral zone to Matt Irwin. Wouters’ pass was out of Irwin’s reach, allowing Callahan Burke to pick up the puck and drive on goal for a backhander over Sawchenko’s right pad.
3-1 Eagles: Colorado Goal, Callahan Burke assisted by Chase Wouters (jokes)
Ahead of the midway mark of the period, Nick Cicek threw the puck up the ice right to Spencer Smallman, who scored the Eagles’ second goal of the period to give Colorado a three-goal lead.
4-1 Eagles: Spencer Smallman assisted by Nick Cicek (jokes)
In true Canuck PDO-luck fashion, Christian Wolanin would bring the Canucks within arm’s reach, scoring a goal on the club’s first shot of the period.
After driving down the left wing, Wolanin fired a shot at Prosvetov from a sharp angle, inexplicably drawing Prosvetov into a full-body sprawl. Wolanin’s shot rebounded off several bodies at the front of the net and out toward the left circle, back to Wolanin, for a wrister over Prosvetov for Abbotsford’s second of the game.
4-2 Eagles: Christian Wolanin from Arshdeep Bains
Wolanin’s goal acted like a smelling salt for the farm team. After getting outshot 7-zip, outscored 2-zip, and generally outclassed through the first half of the second, the Canucks rallied to close the gap in shots.
Hopping up into the rush, Max Sasson nearly halved the Eagles’ lead with a rifling shot off the post.
With three minutes left in the period, Nielsen drew a trip against Cedric Pare, which incensed the Eagles’ broadcast team.
It was a pretty egregious dive, to be fair.
The Canucks power play finally converted, though. With Ivan Prosvetov gifting Linus Karlsson his second of the playoffs with a manoeuvre that would likely get him kicked out of the Vancouver Goalie Guild if he ever attempted it in Canucks’ colours.
4-3 Eagles: Linus Karlsson from Aatu Räty and Filip Johansson
Seriously, what is he doing here?
Not wanting to let the Canucks generate too much momentum, Chase Wouters took a high-sticking penalty in the final 30 seconds of the period to send Abbotsford to their first PK of the game.
Incredibly, the Canucks rallied from their atrocious start to outshoot the Eagles 10 to 9 through the middle 20. Ivan Prosvetov discovering new ways to give up goals against meant that the Canucks’ road to a quarterfinal berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs was still up for grabs.
3rd period
Nick Cicek continued his off-night by taking a penalty 18 seconds into the final frame, giving Colorado a full minute of 5-on-3 power play time. Abbotsford and Colorado would then exchange a multitude of minor penalties to alternate between power plays and even strength through the first five minutes of the period.
First, John Stevens bailed out his defenceman by drawing a tripping minor against Kovalenko while trying to clear the zone in the dying seconds of the Eagles’ two-man advantage.
During the minute of 4-on-4, Max Sasson went to the box for tripping, giving Colorado a 14-second 4-on-3 power play opportunity. Wouters would block a shot, leading to 55 seconds of 4-on-4, before Kovalenko’s penalty expired, giving way to 40 seconds of Eagles’ power play time.
Throughout all of this chaos, the Eagles registered a handful of shot attempts, but neither team would record a meaningful shot on goal until the eight-minute mark when Matt Irwin threw a shot from the point that got punched aside by Prosvetov.
Past the midway mark of the period, the Canucks finally broke through the Eagles defences, with Akito Hirose picking the perfect time to score his first career AHL goal! After stepping off the blue line to receive a pass from Linus Karlsson, Hirose wired a shot on Prosveotv that trickled narrowly wide of his right post. Karlsson attempted to bat the puck in on the short side, but a diving Prosvetov poked the puck out along the goal line. Hirose kept with the play, picking up Prosvetov’s poke save along the goal line and wiring a wrist shot from a sharp angle past the not-set Prosvetov, tying the game at four apiece.
4-4 Tie: Abbotsford Goal, Akito Hirose from Linus Karlsson and Max Sasson
Hirose’s equalizer saw Colorado begin to force plays through the neutral zone, playing as if they were behind on the scoreboards.
With six minutes left, that pressure to win got to Eagles’ defenceman Corey Schueneman, who flubbed a breakout pass in point-blank range of Ty Glover, giving way to a glorious scoring opportunity.
Colorado would press heavily throughout the final five minutes, looking to score. Still, the Canucks’ did admirably, blocking every shot attempt from the perimeter and controlling rebounds to break the puck out to neutral ice without conceding anything off the rush.
Sawchenko would stop 7/7 in the final frame, pushing this one to overtime.
Considering how poorly they played through the first 30 minutes, scoring three straight to force overtime was quite the accomplishment for this team.
The comeback wasn’t meant to be, sadly.
On just their second shot of overtime, ex-Canuck Brad Hunt kept the Eagles’ Calder Playoff hopes alive when he went post and in with a shot from the point. Cole McWard had the right idea tying up Chris Wagner at the front of the net, but the tie-up created a massive screen in front of Sawchenko, giving him zero chance of stopping Hunt’s shot.
5-4 Eagles: Colorado Goal: Brad Hunt from Chris Wagner and Jean-Luc Foudy
It was a tough break after a valiant effort to tie the game.
Moving forward, I would advise that they simply do not get outscored 4-1 in the first thirty minutes, requiring a miraculous comeback.
Final score
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
Zach Sawchenko deserves all three stars for having to play behind such a defensively porous and undisciplined Abbotsford Canucks team through the opening thirty minutes. The Farm did not manage the puck well, and the opening thirty minutes were basically survival mode. This game could have been much worse for Abbotsford had Sawchenko not been dialled in during the Eagles’ prolonged run of offensive-zone dominance.
The second star belongs to Akito Hirose, who led all skaters with five shots on Ivan Prosvetov, resulting in the first goal of his AHL career.
The third star belongs to Linus Karlsson, who was one of the few forwards who responded to getting caved with chippy physicality and threatening offence.
Next up on the Docket
The Eagles and Canucks run it back for a third and final time to decide who will move on in the Pacific Division’s side of the Calder Playoff bracket.

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