The Farmies: Vasily Podkolzin returns to Abbotsford with four shots and a phantom assist in club’s 3-1 loss to the Ontario Reign

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
I’m beginning to sense a pattern here.
Cody and Dave miss game one of the Farm’s series against the Colorado Eagles; they win in regulation
Cody watches game two of the Farm’s series against the Colorado Eagles; they lose in overtime.
Cody doesn’t watch game three of the Farm’s series against the Colorado Eagles; they win in overtime.
Cody watches game one of the Farm’s series against the Ontario Reign; they lose in regulation.
Am I the problem? The Canucks’ long-time, needlessly-detailed, overly-wordy recapper of Canucks AHL hockey?
On Wednesday night, the Farm team geared up for the first of a five-game series against a Division rival whom they split the season series with 4-4. Unfortunately, game one couldn’t have gone worse.
After a brilliant start that saw the Canucks’ outshoot their competition two-to-one, the wheels fell off, and the Reign’s size and speed took over with a vengeance.
At the risk of deterring you from reading the play-by-play, there were some glowing positives from the Farm team in this one: Vasily Podkolzin looked worthy of an NHL playoff opportunity, Zach Sawchenko continued to make Ian Clark look like a demi-god of goalie development, and Max Sasson picked up his first goal of the postseason.
Bare with me, folks. I promise this recap is fun and good!
Let’s get into the action and see how everything shook out!
Starting Lineup
For those interested:
Jett Woo has been out of action with an injury since April 6th.
Aidan McDonough was hurt in game two against the Colorado Eagles, leading to Dmitri Zlodeev’s playoff debut in game three.
Guillaume Brisebois has been MIA since April 20th, presumably with an injury.
Danila Klimovich has missed 25 of Abbotsford’s last 26 games, regular seasons and playoffs combined. Klimovich last dressed for action on March 6th against none other than Wednesday night’s opponent, the Ontario Reign.
Game One
1st period
In the first few minutes of this five-game series, the referees chose to ignore about a half-dozen blatant interference, hooking, and tripping penalties, setting the stage for a very chippy and physical tone.
Through the first five minutes, neither team seemed capable of stringing together an effective pass. Both clubs took turns awkwardly breaking up possession in the d-zone before attempting low-percentage shots on goal from the perimeter.
Off of a d-zone faceoff stemming from an icing, Cooper Walker got a step on Wyatt Wyllie for a breakaway after the Reign defenceman bobbled the puck at the blue line. Despite clearly getting a glove on Walker’s jersey to disrupt his breakaway, the refs were adamant that this game would be power play-less for the opening ten minutes.
You can even see Wyllie look over his shoulder to see if he was busted for the infraction.
Not long after, veteran blueliner Kevin Connauton got his arm around Linus Karlsson, pulling him back to poke the puck into the half wall.
Again, no call.
Midway through the period, Ontario’s Hayden Hodgson crushed Max Sasson with a hit into the boards despite Sasson being absolutely nowhere near the puck.
Despite the referee’s best efforts, Hodgson’s reckless, dangerous hit could not be ignored.
The Canucks power play got to work, but Ontario’s PK did an incredible job of keeping the Canucks shots away from netminder Erik Portillo—just a single shot on goal from Tristen Nielsen before Chase Wouters took a two-minute penalty for cross-checking while posted up at the net front on PP2.
PP1: Räty, Karlsson, Dries, Nielsen, and Johansson
PP2: Wouters, Podkolzin, Sasson, Bains, and Wolanin
As they had been at 5-on-5, the Canucks’ power play was held exclusively to the perimeter.
During the brief 4-on-4, the Canucks dominated possession but didn’t register any shots on goal.
Then, on the Reign’s first power play, game three overtime hero against Colorado, Zach Sawchenko, faced his first real test of the game. First, Charles Hudon ripped a one-timer off Sawchenko’s left post. The second chance saw Sawchenko fight through a screen to gobble-up a snappy wrist shot from T.J. Tynan.
With less than five minutes to go in the opening frame, Tynan took a stick to the face while stepping off the bench for a shift. The refs took three minutes to discuss what to do as none of the officials saw who hit Tynan in the face—eventually assessing Dmitri Zlodeev with a four-minute double-minor.
Fortunately, seconds into the double-minor, Ontario’s Charles Hudon held onto Nick Cicek’s stick after a tie-up, immediately killing half of the Reign’s power play opportunity.
It was about as “AHL officiating” as it gets.
Neither team accomplished much during the 4-on-4, with a weak point shot from Matt Irwin giving way to two minutes of power play time for Ontario.
Thirty seconds of the Reign’s power play was wasted with Charles Hudon trying to spark a fight or draw a call against Matt Irwin. The holding penalty that negated the first two minutes of Zlodeev’s double-minor had clearly rattled Hudon, and his frustrated play single-handedly blew the Reign’s final two minutes of power play time.
Again, the quality of officiating through the opening ten minutes set the stage for the very chippy, angry tone for the rest of the first period.
Fortunately, the Canucks finished the period, having outshot their Division rival 8 to 4!
2nd period
Podkolzin started things off for Abbotsford with a nice little drive down the right wall for a sharp-angle shot off Portillo’s left shoulder.
After a long shift spent inside the offensive zone, Arshdeep Bains tipped a pass out to Matt Irwin for the zone entry and wind-up one-timer off Portillo’s right pad.
Following an offsides whistle, Max Sasson drew an offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct minor against Brandt Clarke, sending the game to two minutes of 4-on-4.
During the 4-on-4, Bains executed a drop pass—the kind that would drive Canucks Twitter up the wall—right to the tape of Alex Turcotte, who wheeled into the offensive zone for a hook pass to Kevin Connauton for two shot attempts.
At the midway point of the period, the Reign’s top line pinned a group featuring Nielsen, Wouters, Dries, Wolanin, and Cicek deep inside their d-zone for over a minute. The Canucks’ could not settle the puck or make a clean exit pass, allowing the Reign to generate considerable momentum as they sought to be the team who broke the nil-nil stalemate. Fortunately, the Reign’s pressure resulted in zero shots on net. Still, it was not the kind of shift the Canucks wanted to concede while facing the long change.
Following a TV timeout, Podkolzin raced down the left wing for a shot attempt that deflected wide of Portillo.
Then, with eight minutes left in the middle frame, a weak clearing attempt from Nick Cicek gave way to a point shot from Wyatte Wyllie, leading a last-second tip from T.J. Tynan past Zach Sawchenko to break the stalemate.
1-0 Reign: Ontario Goal, T.J. Tynan from Wyatte Wyllie
While the shot totals favoured Abbotsford narrowly, the game’s momentum had swung heavily in Ontario’s favour. Following Tynan’s goal, the Reign’s zone entries looked quicker, their reads looked faster, their hits looked heavier, and their shots looked more dangerous. Sawchenko needed to be sharp, and he was, fortunately. But the Reign’s speed and physicality gave Abbotsford little room to execute their game.
It’s not that the Canucks couldn’t gain the zone or execute a chip-and-chase to gain the zone. It’s that they simply lost more 50/50 battles than they won, once along the boards after gaining the zone. The AHL’s shot chart had Abbotsford down for just a single shot from up the middle. The Reign had three shots from the middle after 40 minutes, including the opening goal.
3rd period
The first three minutes saw the Canucks trying to break the puck into the offensive zone for shots, but their best chances were more of the same: meek point shots and awkward bounces from the perimeter.
Five minutes into the period, Nick Cicek missed a reversal from Sawchenko along the half wall, giving T.J. Tynan a free puck to spin toward the slot for a shot from Samuel Fagemo. Fagemo’s shot ricocheted off the bar and out to Alex Turcotte at the side of the net, leading to a tap-in over the sprawling Sawchenko.
2-0 Reign: Ontario Goal, Alex Turcotte from Samuel Fagemo and T.J. Tynan
Throughout the contest, the Canucks were routinely late to loose pucks along the boards, hence why their ratio of 50/50 board battles skewed heavily in Ontario’s favour. Ontario’s Nikita Pavlychev didn’t really have that much of a step on Podkolzin while hounding for a loose puck inside the Canucks’ end, which made Podkolzin’s slash rather excessive.
Fortunately, Podkolzin immediately made up for his penalty by helping the Canucks halve the Reign’s lead.
After gaining the zone, Podkolzin turned with a rifling pass into the slot. Ontario’s Andre Lee couldn’t settle Podkolzin’s pass, leading to a chaotic turnover thanks to a touch from Christian Wolanin that settled the puck for Max Sasson to spin and shoot for his first goal of the postseason.
2-1 Reign: Abbotsford Goal, Max Sasson from Christian Wolanin and Vasily Podkolzin
Officially, the AHL scorekeepers may rule that Lee regained possession, thus crediting Sasson with an “unassisted” goal. However, Farmie-heads will know that Wolanin and Podkolzin deserve credit for the goal.
Near the midway mark, Hayden Hodgson took his second minor penalty of the game to give Abbotsford a critical power play. Unfortunately, the Canucks could not capitalize on the opportunity, managing just two shots on Portillo over two minutes.
Following a TV timeout, the Reign struck again on a Canucks’ d-zone faceoff play. After winning the faceoff back to Kim Nousiainen, Nikita Pavlychev drove to the middle to pick up Nousiainen’s rebound for a turning wrister over Sawchenko’s glove side.
3-1 Reign: Ontario Goal, Nikita Pavlychev from Kim Nouisiainen
A few minutes later, Pavlychev drove into the Canucks’ zone off a neutral zone turnover, shoving Nick Cicek into Sawchenko after rifling a shot.
The resulting fracas created by Pavlychev drew an offsetting roughing minor against Wouters.
With five minutes left in the game, Jeremy Colliton pulled Sawchenko to give the Canucks a 5-on-4 advantage with the empty net. The Canucks weren’t able to muster a single shot on the net, and an unintentional icing from Abbotsford necessitated a return to the net for Sawchenko.
It was a bold/fun idea from Colliton that suffered from poor execution.
Then, with two-and-a-half left in the game, Sawchenko pulled, and tensions at a maximum, Linus Karlsson got his stick in the skates of Tyler Madden, sending the Canucks’ leading scorer to the penalty box for tripping.
Karlsson was pretty miffed by Madden’s perceived “sell job” on the trip, getting in his face and drawing a cross-checking minor from Akil Thomas in the resulting fracas.
The Canucks rolled with a fivesome of Podkolzin, Sasson, Bains, Wolanin, and Dries, with Sawchenko pulled for the extra attacker. Still, they could not get pucks on Portillo to save their lives—just a single shot on net from Wolanin over the final three minutes.
Ultimately, after a decent start, the Canucks’ best efforts over the final 40 weren’t nearly good enough, leading to a 3-1 death by a thousand cuts.
Unlike the Colorado series, the series against the Reign is five games instead of three, meaning Abbotsford has time on the clock to reset and figure out how to keep their Calder Playoff chase alive.
Final score
Ontario Reign defeat Abbotsford Canucks 3-1
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
The first star belongs to Zach Sawchenko, who was given zero help from the team in front of him after the opening 20. While 18 saves on 21 shots isn’t ideal, neither is generating just three shots on goal from right outside the crease.
The second and third stars belong to Vasily Podkolzin, who finished with a team-high four shots on net. What I liked most about Podkolzin’s game was that he was the only forward on the roster displaying a willingness to drive the puck toward the goal. The Canucks, as a whole, were too content to sit back along the walls and cycle the puck for low-danger shots from the perimeter. Podkolzin seemed to be the only skater who knew that the best chances would result from rebounds created by rushing the net with possession.
Next up on the Docket
Abbotsford and Ontario take a very bizarre three days off before their next meeting on Sunday, May 8th.

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