ABBOTSFORD CANUCKS VS CALGARY WRANGLERS SERIES PREVIEW
The Abbotsford Canucks welcome the Calgary Wranglers to Abbotsford Centre on Friday and Saturday night for their Home Opener Weekend.
The puck will drop at 7:00pm PST for both games, kicking off the 12 game season series between the two sides.
Abbotsford and Calgary prepare to renew their rivalry, off the back of a 12 game season series which saw Abbotsford go 4-5-3, before falling 3-1 in a best of five playoff series to the Wranglers.
All four playoff games were inevitably decided by one goal, with both games in Alberta going into Overtime. While Abbotsford’s Calder Cup push was ended in the second round, Calgary advanced to face Coachella Valley Firebirds, where they lost in Game 5 overtime in the Pacific Division Finals, another best-of-three contest.
It was a historic inaugural season for the Wranglers, who lead the AHL in points, wins, fewest goals conceded and penalty kill percentage, while also finishing second in goals scored and powerplay goals scored. Part of that offensive success came from Matthew Phillips, who lead the AHL in goals scored, and came fifth in total points. Phillips has since joined the Washington Capitals, however 2022-23 AHL MVP Dustin Wolf, is expected to travel with the Wranglers to Abbotsford.
Following a historic season for Dustin Wolf, topping the AHL standings in numerous goaltending categories, Wolf picked up a 28 save victory in his one and only appearance in the AHL this season. The other half of Calgary’s goaltender tandem is Oscar Dansk, who conceded three times in Calgary’s Overtime loss to Manitoba on Sunday night.
In the Abbotsford crease, Artūrs Šilovs and Nikita Tolopilo will look to continue their perfect start to the season, each picking up wins the Canucks’ Opening Weekend victories in Laval. For Tolopilo, it was his first win in the AHL, stopping 41 shots in his league debut. As for Šilovs, it was business as usual as he is now in his third year as an AHL netminder.
Other rookies that impressed in their AHL debuts were Aidan McDonough and Cole McWard, with McDonough grabbing his first AHL goal in Laval, while McWard picked up a pair of assists over the two game series against the Rocket.
Tristen Nielsen and Arshdeep Bains are entering their third and second years in the pros, respectively. They also found some success in Abbotsford’s first two games, with Bains registering a four point (1G, 3A) night on Friday, before Nielsen recorded his second career AHL hat-trick on Saturday. Each of their performances landed the Canucks’ forwards on the AHL Stars of the Night list, as well as tying for Abbotsford’s top point scorers with four points through two games each.
Calgary’s team leaders include defenceman Jeremie Poirier, who picked up a goal and four assists against Manitoba, putting him atop the Wranglers’ point scorer leaderboards. Cole Schwindt is the only Wrangler to have found the back of the net multiple times, as he tops the charts with two goals in two games for Calgary.
Following this weekend’s series, Abbotsford will look to host the Colorado Eagles on Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Abbotsford Centre, with both games getting underway at 7:00pm PST. The Canucks then fly south for a three game California road trip, with stops in San Diego, Ontario and Coachella Valley, before returning home for another four-game home stand.
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