Canucks rally back but fall 3-2 in Overtime to Calgary in Game 1

The Abbotsford Canucks continued their quest for the Calder Cup with their first game of the second round against the Calgary Wranglers on Wednesday night. The contest took place at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Alberta, and began the best-of-five series between the two sides, who had already met 12 times throughout the regular season.

Pulling into the Abbotsford lineup was Alex Kannok Leipert, who made his AHL playoff debut on the evening. In between the pipes for Abbotsford was Spencer Martin, who’s last start came in the 3-0 shut out against Bakersfield in the opening game of the playoffs seven days ago. For Calgary, it would be the league MVP who started in goal. Dustin Wolf, alongside the rest of his Wranglers teammates, were beginning their 2022/23 playoff journey and playing in their first game in 11 days.

Abbotsford almost got off to the dream start, as Tristen Nielsen was denied on the doorstep by Wolf in the opening four minutes. A sprawling Calgary netminder spun around and kept the puck out which was trickling behind him.

It would take six minutes for Martin to get his first taste of rubber, with the guests outshooting the Wranglers 6-1 in the early goings. Following a spearing penalty to Calgary’s Matthew Phillips, who also received a game misconduct, Abbotsford were given a five minute man advantage halfway through the frame.

After killing off the penalty, Calgary soon grabbed the first goal of the series, coming off of a bizarre bounce from an Abbotsford stick. The goal came with 6:41 remaining in the frame, and was credited to Dryden Hunt for his first post-season goal in his AHL playoff debut.

Hunt’s goal would be the lone tally of the first period, with the two sides heading back into the locker rooms with the Wranglers holding a 1-0 lead. The Canucks outshot Calgary 16-14 in the opening frame, with Wolf keeping his side in front.

The second period came and went with nobody finding the score sheet, despite Abbotsford once again outshooting Calgary. Both sides hadn’t converted on their two respective powerplay chances, and Dustin Wolf stopping all 28 shots through 40 minutes.

That streak for Wolf would be snapped less than two minutes into the third period, as Alex Kannok Leipert let fly a low shot from the point with traffic in front. Wolf stopped the effort with his pad, but the rebound fell straight to Marc Gatcomb who jammed home the equalizer.

Gatcomb’s first career AHL playoff goal came 1:35 into the third period, and set up an exciting finish in game 1.

Just before the midway point of the third period, Calgary would regain the lead. Adam Klapka brought the puck across the blue line and had his initial shot stopped by Kannok Leipert, before grabbing the rebound and putting the Wranglers back in the lead.

With time dwindling down, Abbotsford still trailed by one. Arsh Bains did well to keep the puck in at the Wranglers blue line, before Aatu Räty collected it in between the circles. His wrist shot beat Wolf, and pinged off the underside of the cross bar before it hit the back of the net.

Räty’s first post season goal as a Canuck came with 4:50 remaining, and would be the goal to set up overtime between the two sides.

A back and forth Overtime period ended with Jakob Pelletier as he squirmed his way into the Abbotsford zone before sending a wrist shot towards Martin. The puck bounced in off of the far post, sealing the 3-2 Overtime victory for Calgary, giving the hosts the 1-0 lead in the series.

Marc Gatcomb and Alex Kannok Leipert both picked up their first career AHL post season point, while Justin Dowling lead the game with seven shots on goal in his home town. Dustin Wolf made 37 saves on the 39 shots he faced, while Spencer Martin stopped 37 of the 40 Calgary efforts that came his way.

To view the full AHL box score, please click HERE.

Up next for Abbotsford is a rematch with Calgary from the Saddledome, with game 2 getting underway on Friday night at 6:00pm PST. Following Friday’s contest, the series then flips to the other side of the Rockies, with games 3, 4 and 5 all scheduled to take place at the Abbotsford Centre. Those contests are scheduled for Wednesday May 3rd, Friday May 5th and Sunday May 7th, and will all be getting underway at 7:00pm.

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