The Farmies: Aidan McDonough extends point-streak to four games as Abby Canucks drop a 4-1 decision at home

Dave Hall
4 months ago
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The Abbotsford Canucks returned home after a lengthy five-game road trip, fresh off their recent dominant performance – a 6-0 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights.
On the menu tonight was the Bakersfield Condors, who the Canucks have enjoyed significant success against this season. Despite sharing the same number of points on the year (64 points), the Canucks carried a 4-0-1-1 advantage in their season series, securing at least a point in all six matchups.
The issue? It was game one of a two-game series, which has been the Canucks’ nemesis for much of the year. Despite playing a relatively strong game for most of the evening, they broke down in quick succession in the third period, dropping yet another opening series matchup.
Let’s check in on how it all played out.
Opening lineup
As anticipated, Nikita Tolopilo earned the start for the Canucks. He had been the more consistent performer recently and this was likely a scheduled start for him anyway, but with Arturs Silovs receiving his first call-up of the 2023-24 season following Thatcher Demko’s lower-body injury, Tolopilo was the obvious choice.
Zach Sawchenko, who hadn’t played a game at any level this season, dressed as the backup goaltender for the second time this year. With four games this week, there is a good chance we finally see his services at some point, if not on Wednesday night–the second leg of a back-to-back.
1st period
The first few moments of the game were slow, marked by several offsides and icing calls, but Nikita Tolopilo appeared comfortable early on, making the game’s first significant save to calmly steer the shot into the corner from point-blank range.
Shortly after, the towering netminder was tested again, taking on a breakaway after the puck had taken a wild hop off the stanchion. Although he was ultimately bailed out by the post in the end, Tolopilo stayed poised on the shooter and got just enough of the puck to redirect it toward the post to keep the game scoreless.
In the initial eight minutes, most of the pressure favoured the Condors, with Abbotsford seeing little daylight in the offensive end.
Finally, around the 12-minute mark of the period, the line of Arshdeep Bains, John Stevens, and Aidan McDonough — who has been the team’s best line over the last three matches — went to work, applying good pressure and setting up numerous chances.
Playing alongside Bains has ignited McDonough, who has struggled to piece it all together at the pro level, thus far.
In addition to enjoying his first three-game point streak, the 24-year-old is playing with added confidence and providing much more substance in his game. Overall, he appears to have much more pep in his step. Leave it to Bains to spark his linemates.
Just before the midway point of the period, Sheldon Dries made a strong defensive effort, breaking up a near-certain grade-A chance, which quickly initiated play in the other direction.
On the ensuing rush, Jett Woo and Linus Karlsson connected for a strong look, with Jack Campbell sliding over to make the game’s best save in the early stages.
Following some pressure down low in the Canucks’ end, the Condors were handed a gift, courtesy of Jermaine Loewen.
Bakersfield goal – 1-0 – Cameron Wright
Thinking he had a teammate nearby—which he sort of did—Leowen teed up the Bakersfield forward with the perfect pass. Catching Tolopilo off guard, the Condors capitalized on the opportunity to open the scoring.
After looking steady for nearly 15 minutes, making seven saves, there wasn’t much he could do from there.
Looking to respond quickly, the Bains-Stevens-McDonough trio went back to work to find the equalizer.
Stevens gained the zone before handing it to Bains, who delivered a patented behind-the-back feed to McDonough, but Campbell stood strong to shut the door once again.
After a tightly contested 20 minutes, with the exception of one brain fart from Leowen, the game remained 1-0 as the teams headed down the tunnel for the first intermission.
2nd period
The Canucks came out of the gate pressing, firing two shots in quick succession out the gate.
Aatu Räty provided the grade-A chance from the slot, while Chase Wouters was knocking on the door for the rebound but couldn’t convert.
Tristen Nielsen, grabbing one of those two shots, was running amok and setting the tone early in this period. First, he caught former Canuck and long-time NHL veteran Sam Gagner with a big hit in the corner.
Shortly after, he was up to his old tricks again. This time, taking liberties at Ty Tullio to spark the Canucks bench.
That didn’t seem to intimidate the Condors too much, as they doubled their lead mere seconds later.
Bakersfield goal – 2-0 – Noel Hoefenmayer from Lane Pederson and Ben Gleason
Off an offensive draw, Bakersfield passed the puck around before Noel Hoefenmayer unleashed a one-timer that beat Tolopilo cleanly, thanks to a perfect screen from the aforementioned Ty Tullio.
The Canucks had played much better in this period, showing much more life, but couldn’t find a way to break the goose egg. Yet.
Once again, however, it was the top line doing their best to get their team on the board. Following a good cycle, Bains made a quick attempt at a wraparound, but Campbell reminded him of his previous NHL experience, stopping the puck with textbook technique to keep them off the board.
Abbotsford goal – 2-1 – Matt Irwin from Arshdeep Bains and Aidan McDonough
That didn’t deter them. On the very next shift, McDonough stepped on the ice and made the defender look foolish, sliding past him with a slick move before being stopped by Jack Campbell.
Grabbing the rebound, Arshdeep Bains collected it and blindly fed the puck to the slot, where Matt Irwin wired home his fourth of the season to cut the lead in half.
With the assist, McDonough extended his current point streak to four games, which doubles his longest as an AHL’er. Once again, his play has shown signs of life in recent memory, and that trend continued in tonight’s match.
The Canucks continued to press immediacy, with Cole McWard finding himself all alone in the slot to grab one of his five shots on the night. Campbell stood his ground, however, denying McWard’s point-blank.
The top line, which had been buzzing all night, got one last opportunity before the buzzer, but McDonough couldn’t shove the equalizer past the pad of the sprawling Campbell.
Despite trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Canucks dominated much of the second period, outshooting their opponent 17-8 and showing strength right from the opening minutes.
3rd period
This time around, it was the Condors who applied pressure right from the start. The big difference? They managed to capitalize on their chances.
Bakersfield goal – 3-1 – Sam Gagner from Matvey Petrov and Greg McKegg
After what had been a positive game for Arshdeep Bains, it all went downhill in an instant. Taking possession of the puck in his own end, he opted to make a move instead of clearing it out of the zone. Unfortunately, he lost control, leading to an untimely turnover with the backdoor option left alone while McWard drifted away.
Making no mistake, this allowed the birthday boy, Matvei Petrov, to set up Sam Gagner for a backdoor goal, extending the Condors’ lead once more.
Shortly after, Tristen Nielsen compounded the Canucks’ troubles by getting his stick up high on a Condors Greg McKegg, sending Bakersfield to the game’s first power play.
PK1–John Stevens, Chase Wouters, Jett Woo and Nick Cicek
PK2–Sheldon Dries, Arshdeep Bains, Cole McWard and Matt Irwin
The Canucks killed the penalty with ease, as they have done for much of this season, limiting their opponents to zero shots during the two minutes.
The positivity did not last long, though.
Shortly after the penalty kill, the Condors continued to apply pressure and add to their lead.
Bakersfield goal – 4-1 – Philip Broberg from Philip Kemp and Seth Griffith
This time, former first-round pick Philip Broberg unleashed a seeing-point shot that found its way past Tolopilo cleanly, deflating any emotion that had remained in the Abbotsford Centre on a quiet Tuesday night.
While Tolopilo likely isn’t happy about allowing this goal, the blame can directly be pointed at all five skaters on the ice. Watching the play again, it’s puzzling to understand the thought process of any player on the ice, as all five seem to be scrambling aimlessly. It’s safe to say that the staples and structure went out the window on this one.
This marked back-to-back goals scored against the Akito Hirose–Cole McWard pairing, resulting in a combined minus-four on the night.
Despite playing a strong game for the first 50 minutes or so, the Canucks faltered in the final stretch and appeared to be a completely different team, ultimately suffering their first regulation loss against the Condors all season.
Final score
Bakersfield Condors defeat the Abbotsford Canucks 4-1.
CanucksArmy three stars
All three stars of the game are awarded to the line of Arshdeep Bains, John Stevens, and Aidan McDonough. From their first shift, they displayed relentless energy and generated numerous scoring opportunities when their team needed a boost. Despite a couple of costly turnovers in the third period, they stood out as the primary contributors, providing strong cycling, sustained pressure, and collectively registering six shots and two points.
Next on the docket
The two teams will face off again tomorrow for the second leg of the back-to-back, marking the final game of an eight-game season series. There’s speculation about whether goaltender Zach Sawchenko will make an appearance. The puck drops at 7:00 PM Pacific Time at the Abbotsford Centre.

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