The Abbotsford Canucks welcomed the Colorado Eagles to Abbotsford Centre on Saturday night for the first of two back-to-back games to close out the season series.

Abbotsford entered the contest in 3rd place, just two points ahead of the 4th place Eagles. With a busy slate of games across the Pacific Division, no matter what happened, Abbotsford would still be ale to hold onto third place by the end of the night.

John Stevens and Brady Keeper both made their returns to the Canucks’ lineup on Saturday, with the pair both recovering from injuries. Nils Höglander entered the contest with 16 points recorded across his last 15 games, while Tristen Nielsen became the third player in Abbotsford franchise history to reach 100 games played for the team, as well as hitting the 100 game mark of his AHL career.

Spencer Martin got the nod from Jeremy Colliton to start in goal for Abbotsford, making his tenth start in the last 13 Canucks’ games. Meanwhile it would be Keith Kinkaid who would tend the Eagles’ goal.

It would be Kinkaid who was tested more in the early goings, with Abbotsford getting a powerplay opportunity just 16 seconds into the contest after a Ryan Merkley high stick. The Canucks’ man advantage unit got to work quickly, and resulted in a Linus Karlsson goal 75 seconds into the contest.

Jack Rathbone collected the puck on the right boards, before sliding the puck across the ice to Arsh Bains on the left boards. Bains quickly snapped the puck towards goal where Karlsson was waiting at the back door to bury his team leading 18th of the season. The goal broke Abbotsford’s franchise record for most points by a rookie with 41, beating out Rathbone from the 2021/22 season with 40.

Karlsson steered home the puck thanks to the quick passing of Rathbone and Bains, gifting the hosts an early one goal lead. Despite six combined penalties between the two sides, the period wound to a close with Abbotsford holding the 1-0 lead, and lead the shot count 7-6.

The second period would jump out to another fast start, as Alex Galchenyuk buried his 15th of the season from the top of the left faceoff circle. The effort came 42 seconds into the period, beating Martin’s glove to level the game at 1-1.

35 seconds later, the deadlock would be broken by another Swede.

Kyle Rau and Justin Dowling broke forward on a two-on-one, with Dowling’s effort going just wide. Rau brought the puck back to the front of the net, which was dealt with by Kinkaid, however the rebound fell straight to Höglander. He jammed the puck past Kinkaid for his 14th goal of the season, putting the Canucks back in the driver’s seat.

Spencer Martin did his part to preserve the lead, using the stick to claw the puck away from a certain goal by Nate Curlman. Galchenyuk opened up space for Curlman and slid the puck over to the defenceman to tap into the empty cage. Martin reached back and paddled the puck to safety, keeping the Canucks’ lead in tact.

The second period would come to a close, and Abbotsford took the 2-1 advantage into the dressing rooms for the second intermission. The Eagles outshot the Canucks 17-13 in the middle frame, giving them the edge in the shot count 23-20.

A closely fought third period seemed as though it would be scoreless, until Spencer Smallman deflected a Ben Myers effort past Martin with six minutes remaining to level the game at two once again.

Less than a minute later, Aatu Räty introduced himself to the Abbotsford crowd.

Jett Woo fluttered a shot towards goal from the point, with Karlsson deflecting the puck high into the air. Räty tracked the puck and batted it out of thin air past Kinkaid for what would turn out to be the game winning goal. Räty’s first as a member of the Abbotsford Canucks was quickly followed up by an empty netter from Räty two minutes later, securing the full two points.

Abbotsford walked out as 4-2 winners thanks to a late double from Räty, as well as some heroics from Martin at the other end. Räty picked up his first multi-point game in Abbotsford, making it four points across his last four AHL games. Martin stopped 26 of the 28 efforts he saw, while the Canucks’ fired 33 total shots towards the Eagles’ goal.

For the full AHL box score, please click HERE.

Up next for Abbotsford is a rematch with the Eagles on Sunday afternoon, with the puck dropping from the Abbotsford Centre at 4:00pm . Following the series with Colorado, Abbotsford hosts Ontario on Friday and Saturday nights before hitting the road for a five game road trip, including stops in Bakersfield, Ontario and Manitoba.

To purchase tickets to an upcoming Abbotsford Canucks’ game, please click HERE.