The Farmies: Sawyer Mynio makes AHL debut in the Abbotsford Canucks’ 3-1 defeat of the Calgary Wranglers

Photo credit:X/@ABBYCANUCKS
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
Ah yes, Thursday night hockey at 6 PM.
It’s the perfect time to watch AHL hockey.
It’s the ideal time to watch a young prospect make their AHL debut.
It’s the ideal way to spend your evening after an eight-hour work day and an hour and a half commute that saw you waste 30 minutes trying to travel two and a half blocks Northbound on 200th street in Langley just to hit the Trans Canada Highway!
In a way, the Highway 1/200th Street exchange and AHL hockey are pretty similar. It’s messy, works best when everyone is on the same page, and it only takes one person playing/driving selfishly to screw it up for everyone else!
I digress.
Sorry, I really, really, really hate sitting in traffic.
Thursday night was the ninth meeting between the Calgary Wranglers and the Abbotsford Canucks. NINTH.
Despite Calgary holding a 5-1-2 advantage in the season series, the Abbotsford Canucks came out and played their best three periods of road hockey in months.
Granted, these aren’t the same Calgary Wranglers who thrived on the success of two-time AHL MVP Dustin Wolf, but it was a critical victory over an arch-rival who has constantly got the upper hand on the Farm team.
Most importantly, the victory leapt Abbotsford into fifth place in the Pacific Division Calder Playoff picture. The win tentatively gives them an opening-round series against the Colorado Eagles, whom they split the season series against with a 4-3-1-0 record.
The Pacific Division playoff matchups are still completely up for grabs, with a five-point spread between the now seventh-placed Calgary Wranglers and the second-place Tucson Roadrunners. The Abbotsford Canucks only have three games left to play, while everyone above them in the standings has five or more games to go. Since their fate is mostly out of their hands, we decided to focus less on the team as a whole and more on the individuals!
In tonight’s case, the debuting Sawyer Mynio will henceforth be referred to as 18-year-old Sawyer Mynio—18-year-old Sam Bennett style!
Let’s see how he did in his AHL debut and how the Canucks paired a stellar road victory with an excellent rookie debut!
Starting Lineup
Game #69 (nice)
1st period
Slow going through the opening two minutes, with both teams exchanging dump-ins along the wall and not much in the way of legitimate shots on the net.
Sawyer Mynio was given a tall task for his first shift of AHL hockey, literally.
While taking a defensive zone faceoff, Mynio was tasked with defending the 6’8″ Adam Klapka, as he easily muscled past Mynio for a tap-in opportunity on Nikita Tolopilo’s doorstep.
Fortunately, this awkward tangling with Klapka didn’t lead to a shot on net, but it was definitely a “welcome to the f*****g show” moment for the rookie.
The Canucks would break out of the zone shortly after Klapka’s chance, leading to a tip-in attempt from Aatu Räty off a point shot from the returning Guillaume Brisebois.
The Canucks found ways to keep goaltender Connor Murphy busy. Though the Canucks’ shots weren’t that threatening, their volume approach kept yielding uncontrolled rebounds into dangerous territory or into areas that forced Calgary’s defenders into making quick exits.
On one such occasion, Aidan McDonough cut to the middle of the ice before dropping to Chase Wouters on the right wing for a shot attempt in and out of Murphy’s glove.
Mynio’s second shift of the game saw him play a very short and straightforward shift—much more calm than his first.
Under pressure below the goal line by Calgary’s Mitch McClain, Mynio executed a quick and easy d-to-d pass to Brisebois for the controlled exit. Nothing remarkable—barely GIF-worthy, but GIF-able nonetheless.
Near the midway point of the opening frame, Räty drew a hooking penalty against Calgary’s acquisition in the Chris Tanev trade, Artem Grushnikov, to give Abbotsford their first power play of the game.
With Lekkerimäki back in Sweden training for the World Championships, Colliton rolled out the following power play units:
  • PP2: McDonough, Sasson, Wouters, Bains, Wolanin
  • PP1: Johansson, Karlsson, Dries, Nielsen, Räty
PP1 generated an early shot attempt from McDonough that sailed wide of Murphy’s post, then conceded a shorthanded shot from Ben Jones. PP2 had a dump-in carom out of the zone early into their minute of work, but Filip Johansson managed a shot attempt, deflected wide by Räty.
After the power play expired, Räty crouched low to make himself available for a pass from Linus Karlsson behind Murphy’s net, rifling a shot off the inside of the right post.
Mynio’s third shift of the game saw him pinch down low to support Brisebois on a puck retrieval. Mynio forgot to keep an eye on the puck, allowing Calgary’s William Stromgren to backhand the puck to Ben Jones for the eventual setup for Jakob Pelletier’s one-timer. Mynio then showed his junior habits as Stromgren backed off the wall, cutting to the front of the net. For the second time in the period, Mynio could not keep pace even in a short burst and resorted to throwing his arm around his cheek to disrupt his path.
Right idea; rookie execution—Mynio will learn that an active heavy stick is required on all 50/50 retrieval battles, even if he’s late. The “moving your feet at all times” thing is a required “ah-ha!” moment for rookies who expect to succeed. Wading toward the front of the crease works in Junior but less so against older, larger, seasoned veterans who know how hard they must work to produce at this level. You could tell in this sequence that Mynio was caught off-guard by the shoulder that Stromgren threw into him while cutting toward the crease. If he takes anything away from his debut, it’s how he has to be engaged 110% of the time, even if it seems like the heavy lifting on a shift has already been done.
Fortunately for Abbotsford, this sequence finished with Sasson drawing an interference penalty against Jones, giving Abbotsford a second straight power play opportunity. However, their only shot attempt came at the expiry of Jones’ penalty.
On Mynio’s fourth shift, he adequately controlled the middle of the ice on the retreat, catching a centring pass before attempting a high-flip to clear the zone. Calgary’s Jeremie Poirier caught Mynio’s flip at the blue line, but John Stevens collapsed in time to push Poireir off the puck, leading to a controlled exit from Marc Gatcomb.
Much to the Calgary faithful’s chagrin, Gatcomb drew a cross-checking penalty against Mitch McClain, sending Abbotsford to their third power play opportunity.
It took them three tries, but PP1 finally found a rhythm in the offensive zone, generating five shots on net, including two on this sequence.
Abbotsford finished the opening frame even in scoring, nil-nil, despite having outshot their arch-rivals 12 to 5.
2nd period
Three minutes into the period, Mynio played his fifth shift of the game. He began by hauling down Klapka while defending a breakout through the neutral zone.
This would be Mynio’s first real shift supporting an offensive zone cycle for Abbotsford. His skating was fluid, and you could tell he was chomping at the bit to drop low for a rebound opportunity (top left hovering the point before dropping to the right circle after opening up for a passing option).
The shift ended with him attempting to break the puck out of the d-zone off a pass from Brisebois, only to bring down his second Wrangler of the shift while losing the puck in the process.
There was good energy, good intentions, and even a positive result, even if the loss of possession on the breakout wasn’t the best.
With the two teams on the long change, Brisebios and Mynio got caught on an extended shift. Fortunately, nothing too dramatic occurred. Matthew Wedman pinned Brisebois behind the goal line, but Brisebois managed to fish the puck from out of his skates and out to Mynio, who went wide to Tristen Nielsen for the controlled breakout.
The first five minutes were dominated by Abbotsford, with Arshdeep Bains nearly connecting with Linus Karlsson for the game’s opening goal off a Calgary d-zone giveaway.
After a particularly dominant shift in the offensive zone, Gatcomb sparked the game’s opening goal with a reset in the neutral zone.
Spotting Sheldon Dries driving toward the left wing with conviction, Gatcomb backhanded a pass to Dries, who whipped a shot bar-down on Connor Murphy to give Abbotsford an early lead.
1-0 Canucks: Abbotsford Goal, Sheldon Dries from Marc Gatcomb
Mynio’s next shift came around the midway mark of the period, during which he most notably hit Nielsen with a stretch pass that got deflected into the zone for a retrieval attempt by Gatcomb.
Later in the shift, Mynio challenged aggressively to the left circle from behind the net, then quickly got back into position to deny any rebound opportunities once it was clear he had bit too heavily on the potential for a loose puck.
Nick Cicek took Abbotsford’s first penalty of the night after closing his hand on the puck along the d-zone half wall. Due to Calgary’s aggressive power play cycle and the long change, Colliton’s first PK unit—Wouters, Brisebois, John Stevens, and Matt Irwin—got hemmed in the zone for the full two minutes.
With 15 seconds left on Cicek’s penalty, Wouters swept the puck down the zone, allowing Brisebois, Stevens, and Irwin to change for Akito Hirose, Christian Wolanin, and Dries.
With less than seven minutes to go, Mynio took part in another offensive zone cycle. A trio of Nielsen, Sasson, and Räty dominated off the cycle, prompting an icing out of desperation. There wasn’t much from Mynio on this sequence besides a hard skate to ensure the icing against Calgary.
On his next shift, Mynio stepped into the neutral zone and aggressively challenged Wedman’s race for the loose puck.
Later, Mynio found an opening through traffic while under pressure by Calgary’s Riley Damiani, spotting a streaking Ty Glover with a point-shot, looking for the tip-in attempt.
After 20 minutes, the Canucks were up 1-nil while having outshot their opponent 13 to 8, up 25 to 13 in shots through 40 minutes.
3rd period
The Wranglers came out hot and heavy to start the third period, pouring the pressure on through the opening two minutes, resulting in several dicey shot attempts, an icing, and a tripping penalty against the team’s Captain, Wouters.
With Wouters in the box, Colliton rolled out a PK unit featuring Stevens, Dries, Cicek, and Irwin to start. The Canucks immediately cleared the puck off the opening draw, then the Wranglers put themselves offside after regaining the zone.
Shorthanded, Gatcomb put a shot off Murphy’s left shoulder after crashing down onto a misplayed puck.
Colliton’s other PK units consisted of the following:
  • Bains and Gatcomb with Brisebois and Wolanin
  • Räty and Stevens with Cicek and Irwin
For Abbotsford’s second PK of the game, they managed to outshoot Calgary 2-zip.
Because of Wouters’ power play and the Wranglers’ early press, Mynio didn’t see a shift in the third period until the six-minute mark.
It was another unremarkable but perfectly cromulent shift from Mynio, who raced down low for a puck retrieval and played the puck up the boards for a breakout.
Again, not exactly GIF-worthy, but this Farmies would hardly constitute a ‘shift-by-shift’ if we didn’t clip at least something from each of Mynio’s debut shifts.
Mynio can hold his head high, knowing he wasn’t on the ice for this sequence that saw Jakob Pelletier make Abbotsford look silly. With McDonough stepping into Poirier for a hit, Pelletier was given a free waltz down Main Street, around Cicek, for a backhander off Tolopilo’s left post.
Abbotsford answered Pelletier’s shot off the iron with a shot off the iron, with Stevens finding Wolanin down the left wing for a wrister off the inside of Murphy’s left post.
Mynio’s next shift was as boring as his last, with a simple retreat down the middle to cut off the passing option.
On the next shift, Arshdeep Bains called for a rinkwide pass from Wolanin, which led to Tristen Nielsen’s 14th of the year off a backhand bouncer off Yan Kuznetsov’s shoulder and over Connor Murphy’s for the two-goal lead.
2-0 Canucks: Abbotsford Goal, Tristen Nielsen from Arshdeep Bains and Christian Wolanin
Unsurprisingly, with Tolopilo’s first AHL shutout on the line, nursing a narrow two-goal lead against a historically difficult opponent, Mynio’s ice time took a hit during the final ten minutes.
This is not to say that Abbotsford spent the final ten minutes on their heels, getting obliterated by shot volume. However, considering that Abbotsford had just a single regulation win against Calgary to this point of the season, it was understandable that the rookie seventh defenceman would have his ice time cut to try and secure their starter’s first AHL shutout.
Naturally, with less than four minutes to go, Ty Glover was caught draping the arm over William Stromgren while pressing inside the offensive zone. Stromgren sold the call, and Glover went to the box for an undisciplined holding minor.
Calgary scored 22 seconds onto the power play.
2-1 Canucks: Calgary Goal, Jordan Oesterle from Cole Schwindt and Brett Sutter
We’re going to guess that that’s probably the last game Glover plays for Abbotsford this season.
Sure, the call may have been on the softer side, but you can’t throw your arms around an opponent for a horsecollar and expect to get away with it.
Fortunately, the Canucks sealed it with an empty netter from Chase Wouters in the final 20 seconds, but blowing the shutout for Tolopilo felt like a huge missed opportunity from the team.
3-1 Canucks: Abbotsford Goal, Chase Wouters unassisted
Despite the blown shutout, this was a fantastic road performance from the Farm team.
A regulation win in which they outshot their opponent 35 to 25, killed two of three penalties, and won the first of a back-to-back? That’s the kind of summary that hasn’t existed through the 2024 portion of the Abbotsford Canucks’ 2023-24 season!
What a time to be alive!
Final score
Abbotsford Canucks defeat Calgary Wranglers 3-1
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
Thursday night’s first star belongs to Marc Gatcomb. I liked his hustle all night, his work on the penalty kill, and his work on the shift that led to Sheldon Dries’ opening goal. Without that oppressive cycle or that backhand pass, this game would likely be anyone’s game heading into the third period.
The second star belongs to Nikita Tolopilo, who was not tasked with making too many five-alarm saves, but kept the Wranglers’ early press at bay during the third period specifically. It’s quite a shame that he was four minutes away from his first AHL shutout.
The third star belongs to Sawyer Mynio, simply for making his AHL debut and giving this edition of the Farmies something to talk about during prolonged stretches of nothing to talk about! Seeing how he develops from this brief stint in the pros will be interesting. The skating did not look out of place; his eye for openings is strong, and he has the right instincts on the defensive side of the puck. The things he’ll have to work on over the next season and a bit are pretty standard CHL rookie things: size, lower-body strength, core strength, and engagement, both in physicality and foot speed. Otherwise, colour me impressed by this 18-year-old debut against a tough opponent that routinely sent their best players against him.
Next up on the Docket
The Canucks run it back against the Wranglers Friday at 6 PM PST.

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