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The Farmies: Marc Gatcomb’s late goal not enough to halt Abbotsford’s losing streak

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Photo credit:@abbycanucks on Twitter
Cody Severtson
2 months ago
The timing just wasn’t on the Abbotsford Canucks’ side on Saturday night.
As the Vancouver Canucks were recalling Arshdeep Bains for a warm-up skate with the big club, the Calgary Flames were returning Dustin Wolf and Cole Schwindt to their AHL club to take on Abbotsford.
Yes, the Abbotsford Canucks saw the returns of Tristen Nielsen and Sheldon Dries to their depleted top six.
However, a guy returning to action for the first time in over a month and a half and a punchy, flashy rate-scorer aren’t enough to overcome a brutally, laughably bad power play against the AHL’s best goaltender (in back-to-back years) and the AHL’s reigning MVP.
Let’s get into this one.
Starting Lineup
Game #45
1st period
It was a frenetic pace to the Wranglers and Canucks’ seventh meeting this season.
Both teams played heavy hockey. Whether the return of Sheldon Dries or Tristen Nielsen to the lineup, the Canucks played like they were out to prove something. They thoroughly controlled possession inside the Wranglers’ zone through much of the first period, winning the bulk of the 50/50 battles along the boards, being first to the endboards for dump-in retrievals, and first to the puck along the cycle. Were it not for Dustin Wolf and the Wranglers’ active sticks, the first ten minutes of the period would have been exclusively spent inside Calgary’s end.
After close to 15 minutes of back-and-forth action, with both teams offering mostly shots from the perimeter, new dad Tristen Nielsen celebrated the birth of his daughter by dangling through the middle off a pass from Vasily Podkolzin for a shot off the post.
Nielsen followed his chance by levelling Matt Coronato in the neutral zone.
Coronato’s teammate, Cole Schwindt, then stepped up to Nielsen after taking exception to the lateness of the hit and channelling his new dad-strength; Nielsen obliged.
The entire sequence was great stuff from Nielsen, as he drew an instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct against Schwindt to give the Canucks a late power play opportunity.
The Canucks managed two shots on Wolf, owing to a power play unit featuring Linus Karlsson, Aatu Räty, Max Sasson, Jett Woo, and Podkolzin. Then, while defending a shorthanded rush, Woo took a tripping penalty to send the game to a minute of 4-on-4 hockey.
During the weekly preview series, we pointed out that Arturs Silovs has a highly-concering .786 save percentage at 4-on-4 this season. Fortunately, he saved two of two shots at 4-on-4. Then, during the Wranglers’ minute of power play time, Alex Kannok Leipert got down on one knee to break up a two-on-one rush chance.
A shift later, Coronato was gifted a golden scoring opportunity in front of Silovs’ net, but the Latvian got a piece of his glove on the attempt, deflecting it wide.
The brief power play benefited the Wranglers massively. The momentum of the game, which had been thoroughly in the Canucks’ favour, suddenly shifted against them. A late interference penalty against Calgary’s Mitch McLain, drawn by Podkolzin, wasn’t enough to quell the shift.
2nd period
The second period saw Calgary outshoot Abbotsford 2-zip during their early minute-and-a-half power play opportunity. Then, after a dismal power play opportunity, Linus Karlsson drew a tripping call against Jonathan Aspirot with one second remaining in McLain’s interference penalty.
The Canucks got a point shot from Woo on the power play, but that was it.
During the brief tryst at 5-on-5, Räty got his stick tangled in the hands of Aspirot, putting the Canucks onto their second penalty kill of the game.
With immovable object Adam Klapka parked in front of Silovs, Calgary’s William Stromgren wired a shot on the short side to break the stalemate and give the Wranglers a one-goal lead.
Calgary Goal: William Stromgren from Jonathan Aspirot and Emilio Pettersen
The Canucks got their feet back under them after the Stromgren goal, but momentum still felt decisively in Calgary’s favour.
Past the midway point of the period, Nielsen drilled Will Riedell with a crosscheck, sending Abbotsford to their third penalty kill.
After a shot off the post and several shot attempts wide of the net, the Canucks PK made it 2/3 after drawing an interference penalty against Jonathan Aspirot, his second minor penalty of the period, to throw the Canucks back on the power play.
The power play generated a couple of shots for Abbotsford but zero goals.
Matt Irwin rifled a clapper down the left wing, which was very cool.
Otherwise, it was a pretty dull period, with Calgary creating the most threatening chances.
Or, maybe it was an exciting period. I had the Vancouver-Winnipeg game on my third monitor, and the playoff-like intensity had me unfairly distracted away from this Abbotsford-Calgary game. I’m sure Abbotsford’s chances were just as cool and good as Calgary’s.
After 40 minutes, these two mortal enemies were tied in shots at 21 apiece.
3rd period
Perhaps recognizing my waning interest in the playoff-like atmosphere of the Vancouver-Winnipeg game, Tristen Nielsen stepped into Jonathan Aspirot early in the third period, prompting a response from the Wranglers’ defenceman.
Unfortunately, the response was a crosscheck from behind that sent Abbotsford to their fifth power play of the game. It was a fantastic weasely move from Nielsen to give the Canucks an early advantage. However, I don’t think the Abbotsford Canucks’ power play can be considered an advantage at this point.
It’s so bad.
They generated zero shots on net. Then, with a second left on the man “advantage,” Chase Wouters took a hooking penalty to send Abbotsford to their fourth penalty kill.
The Wranglers’ power play isn’t much better than Abbotsford’s; they generated five shots on their opportunity, but Silovs’ stood strong to hold the Wranglers’ lead at a single goal.
After ten minutes of play, Abbotsford had generated a single shot on net from Cooper Walker.
Honestly, for a team trailing by a goal on home ice against a Divisional and geographic rival, putting up a single shot in the third period of a game they’re trailing is downright pathetic. I don’t care if Dustin Wolf is the guy between the pipes for said rival. Put some heat on the net, people! ONE shot? After ten minutes in front of paying customers is just brutal stuff.
Sure enough, the Wranglers’ top line sprang a rush with numbers into the Canucks’ d-zone, resulting in Aspirot undressing Linus Karlsson for a backhand pass to Schwindt for a one-timer from the doorstep.
Calgary Goal: Cole Schwindt from Jonathan Aspirot and Matt Coronato
Perhaps sensing my ire for their shameful ability to get shots on goal, John Stevens caught a dump-in from Woo behind the goal line, then fought off the check of Emilio Pettersen to execute a wraparound on Dustin Wolf. Wolf made the initial stop, but Marc Gatcomb crashed the net to hammer the rebound under his pads to put Abbotsford within arm’s reach.
Abbotsford Goal: Marc Gatcomb from John Stevens and Jett Woo
With some signs of life, Jeremy Colliton pulled Silovs for the extra attacker with 2:22 remaining in the game. The six-man unit featured Karlsson, Podkolzin, Nielsen, Dries, Räty, and Woo.
While executing a zone entry, Karlsson drew a tripping penalty against Aspirot (his fourth minor penalty of the game) to give Abbotsford a late 6-on-4 opportunity to tie the game.
Off the initial faceoff, the Canucks worked it to the left wing for a wrist shot from Dries into Wolf’s glove.
Later, Vasily Podkolzin attempted a one-timer, only to shatter his stick on the attempt. As that happened, Dries drew a high stick against Yan Kuznetsov to give Abbotsford a hilarious 6-on-3 power play opportunity for the game’s final five seconds.
Calgary’s Alex Gallant threw a shoulder into Podkolzin as he was leaving the ice, drawing a response from Linus Karlsson, of all people.
Regardless, the Abbotsford Canucks’ power play went zero for seven, and for the eighth straight time, the Farm dropped the first game of a two-game series.
Final score
Calgary Wranglers defeat the Abbotsford Canucks 2-1
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
The number one star belongs to Arturs Silovs. With 25 saves on 27 shots, several odd-man rush chances turned aside, multiple posts, and a half-dozen shorthanded shots conceded by Abbotsford’s penalty killers, without Silovs, this game is a trainwreck. It’s truly a shame that the group in front of him could not get a shot through traffic in the opening ten minutes of the final period. They needed something during that opening to give themselves a legitimate chance of coming back to force overtime, but just couldn’t handle the size or speed of Calgary’s defence.
The second star belongs to Tristen Nielsen, who did his best to try and give the Canucks momentum. The hits, the fights, the penalty draws, the shot attempts, and the dangles were all good and well-intentioned; it’s just a shame none of it amounted to anything.
The third star belongs to Marc Gatcomb for scoring another clutch 5v5 goal for Abbotsford in the dying minutes of a lost game.
Honourable mention: Matt Irwin for his team-high seven shots on goal, including the hilarious wind-up clapper down the left wing.
Next up on the Docket
The Canucks run it back against the Wranglers Monday afternoon. Will they break their losing streak, or will the 2024 slump continue past Family Day?

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