Abbotsford Canucks fall 8-2 to Ontario Reign in season opener

Friday night saw the return of Abbotsford Canucks hockey, a mere 163 days after a 3-2 playoff loss at the hands of the Bakersfield Condors. A lot has changed in that time. A new Head Coach. A new captain. A new crop of the Fraser Valley’s finest were set and ready to build on last year’s successes.

Season number two for Abbotsford began with a rumble in Ontario, California, against the Reign. Arshdeep Bains and Michael Regush made their professional debuts, with Linus Karlsson making his AHL debut also. Christian Wolanin, Wyatt Kalynuk and Collin Delia all stepped on the ice bearing Johnny Canuck for the first time, making their Abbotsford debuts.

Friday night marked the Abbotsford debut for new bench boss Jeremy Colliton, who took over for Trent Cull during the off-season. In yet another first, Chase Wouters led the team out for the first time with the captain’s “C” on his chest, after he was named the first team captain in history on Thursday morning.

The opening frame did not disappoint at all, with the score running up quickly. Inside of two minutes, Linus Karlsson fed the puck through to Justin Dowling, whose slapshot rifled over the shoulder of Pheonix Copley to open the scoring. The powerplay tally was Dowling’s 105th goal in the AHL, and opened the flood gates early.

A quick reply from Ontario had the game tied at 1, however that lasted no more than 27 seconds. This time it was Arshdeep Bains who opened his account for the year, scoring his first professional goal. It would be Karlsson and John Stevens who registered the assists, setting up Bains in the slot.

A pair of quick Ontario goals from Samuel Fagemo and Helge Grans gave the Californians the lead, making it 3-2 for the Reign with just over six minutes gone in the game. The play would settle down, with Will Lockwood missing a breakaway chance, and the first period finished 3-2 for the home side.

The second period didn’t have quite the same start, as it took until the halfway mark for another goal to be recorded. It would be Ontario’s Lias Anderson on the powerplay to increase the advantage to two, marking the Reign’s second powerplay tally. Wouters would have Abbotsford’s best chance of the middle frame, with his breakaway effort just rolling wide of Copley’s net.

Ontario would add two more late in the frame to make it five unanswered goals for the Reign, and it would end up 6-2 after 40 minutes.

Fighting back, Karlsson would have his effort denied by the glove of Copley to start the third period. An increase in offensive pressure set up Abbotsford’s best spell of possession since early in the game, however it would be Ontario who got on the board next. Akil Thomas made it six unanswered goals for the home team, ending Delia’s night. Arturs Silovs would come in for his first appearance of the campaign and oversaw the final 5:54 of the game. He would let in one late attempt under his glove for the final score of the night, ending 8-2 for Ontario.

The Reign would end up outshooting Abbotsford 46-31, as well as converting on three of their six powerplay opportunities. The Canucks went one for three on the man advantage on Friday night.

The full boxscore, provided by The AHL, is available HERE.

Abbotsford will continue their road trip on Saturday with a visit to Bakersfield, the very team that ended their 2022 playoff journey. The puck drops from Mechanics Bank Arena at 7:00pm pst, with free viewing available on AHLTV as part of the “Opening Weekend Freeview”.