ABBOTSFORD CANUCKS HOLD OFF FIREBIRDS IN 5-2 VICTORY
Just twelve days after Abbotsford and Coachella Valley took part in an eleven goal thriller in Seattle, the Canucks would have their chance at revenge on Friday night. The Firebirds made the trip up north to the Abbotsford Centre for the first time in their brief history, playing the first of a back-to-back series.
Christopher Gibson would get the nod for the Firebirds, making his third start of the season. It would also be the third start for Colin Delia in the Abbotsford net, trying to grab his second victory in an Abbotsford sweater.
Matt Alfaro made his season debut for the Canucks, after featuring in 13 games last season for Abbotsford. Guillaume Brisebois and Danila Klimovich both made their return to the lineup after missing out on last Saturday’s “Diwali Night” matchup.
It would be the Firebirds who open the scoring, with Jimmy Schuldt beating Delia through a screen over the blocker halfway through the opening frame. Yet that lead wouldn’t last long, as Yushiroh Hirano went crashing into the Firebirds zone.
The puck fell to Chase Wouters, who was double teamed by a pair of Coachella Valley defencemen. The captain threw the puck into the slot and Hirano jumped on the loose biscuit. His snap shot flew under the arm of Gibson, tying the game at one with nine minutes to go in the opening frame.
It looked like it would stay that way heading into the dressing room, until Kyle Rau connected with Will Lockwood in the slot. A quick finish from Lockwood over the pad of Gibson gave “Wild Bill” his fourth goal in the last three games. With eleven seconds left, Lockwood’s tally would be the last action of the period, with the score favouring the home side 2-1 after 20.
The Canucks stormed out of the break just as aggressively as they had ended it, with a quick powerplay opportunity. The man advantage allowed Justin Dowling, Arshdeep Bains and Linus Karlsson to get to work. Some intricate passing down low allowed Karlsson to roof the puck over a sliding Gibson and push Abbotsford’s lead to two early in the second.
Wyatt Kalynuk soon added his name to the ever growing list of Canucks on the scoresheet, who took a brilliantly placed backhand feed from Lane Pederson at the blue line. Kalynuk stepped into it with all of his power and fired a cannon of a shot past Gibson to make it four unanswered goals, and a 4-1 Abbotsford Canucks lead after 40 minutes.
Tristen Nielsen broke forward in the opening minutes of the third, with Justin Dowling streaking alongside him. The saucer pass from Nielsen snuck through to Dowling, who’s effort clanked off the post, keeping Coachella Valley’s deficit at three.
However, that would only last for a few minutes. Rau collected the rebound off an errant Brady Keeper shot, sending it back to the blueline for Keeper. Keeper’s low slapshot was redirected in front by Lockwood, sending it over Gibson’s glove and into the net. “Will The Thrill” collected his team leading fifth goal of the year, making it a 5-1 score line halfway through the third.
A chippy final few minutes saw tempers flare on both sides, with Coachella capitalizing on a late chance. However that would be the end of the action, with the game wrapping up as a 5-2 win for Abbotsford.
“In a lot of ways, we picked up where we left off. I liked the work ethic, the skating, we played fast. Especially early on. Our forecheck created a bunch of chances, we didn’t take penalties. It’s nice to see us get rewarded for that.” – Jeremy Colliton when asked about what he liked from Friday’s game.
Next up for Abbotsford is a rematch with the Firebirds on Saturday night. The puck drops from the Abbotsford Centre at 7:00pm, with the game available to be watched online on AHLTV.
For tonight’s full box score, click HERE.