TRISTEN NIELSEN FIRES HOME WINNER AS ABBOTSFORD CANUCKS DEFEAT FIREBIRDS 4-3
The Abbotsford Canucks travelled down to Seattle for their second road trip of the 2022/23 season, beginning with a pair of games against the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Friday afternoon saw the first ever meeting between the two sides, with the game marking the Firebirds’ first ever “home game”.
Abbotsford rolled into the Kraken Community Iceplex well rested from last weekend, where the team put up a win and a loss at the hands of Bakersfield and Ontario. The Firebirds, who won’t be playing their true home arena (Acrisure Arena) until December, opened up their inaugural season with a pair of impressive victories in Calgary against the Wranglers.
Canucks Head Coach Jeremy Colliton started with Arturs Silovs between the pipes, as well as Sheldon Dries featuring with Abbotsford for the first time this year. Joey Daccord made his third start of the year for Coachella Valley in the opposite crease.
The game opened up in a tight and equally matched manner, with no side showing any clear advantage over the other. Eight minutes in, the Firebirds had a goal overturned as John Hayden buried home a floating puck but the effort was deemed a high stick. Silovs didn’t have much to do elsewise in the opening frame, stopping all five shots thrown his way.
Abbotsford finished the first period with a flurry of chances, with Hirano, Karlsson, Stevens and Wolanin all having their efforts turned aside. Chase Wouters had his wrister rattle off the crossbar on a two-on-one effort with John Stevens, but striking iron would be as close as either side would get to start the game.
Jesper Froden almost continued his hot start to the year for the hosts, as he couldn’t find the target on a two-on-one with Kole Lind early in the second. They would continue to pile the pressure on as Alexander True pulled away down the right side and tucked home the game’s first goal.
A charging Karlsson tried to level the score a few minutes later, pulling off a quick snapshot and grabbing his own rebound, but Daccord was able to match the efforts and keep the puck out.
That wouldn’t be the case just a minute later, as John Stevens was able to slide a puck through to Carson Focht down in front of the net. Some quick hands from Focht allowed him to pull off a backhand effort that flew into the roof of the net, tying the game at one apiece at 10:18 in the second period.
Six minutes later, Coachella Valley would strike again, this time with Froden putting away his effort. A redirected pass fell to Froden in front of Silovs who jammed home the Firebirds’ second of the night. The effort would be on the mad advantage, as Brady Keeper was in the box for slashing.
After two periods, it would be the trailing Canucks who would lead the shot count 17-12.
Two minutes into the final period, Sheldon Dries took the puck into Firebirds territory, but was unable to get the shot off on Daccord. However the puck fell to Dries behind the goal, who banked the shot off the back of the netminder and into the net to level the game.
The action didn’t stop there for Abbotsford, when Fraser Valley native Noah Juulsen tee’d up a slapshot from the point which flew under the arm of Daccord at the seven minute mark. Abbotsford had it’s first lead of the game, and the Firebirds were trailing for the first time in franchise history.
Just over four minutes later, Tristen Nielsen jumped on the scoresheet, firing home a quick shot off of a Sheldon Dries faceoff win. Nielsen’s wrister flew over the shoulder of Daccord, making it a two goal lead, and Abbotsford’s third tally in nine minutes. The goal also came just two seconds into a powerplay due to a Carson Twarynski tripping call.
Alexander True would grab his second of the night to make it a nervous ending in Seattle, as he jumped on a Silovs rebound with under four minutes to go to make it a 4-3 Canucks game. But that would be as close as the game would get, with the Canucks holding on for the victory.
“The powerplay came through with a couple of big goals there, and we got some big saves from Arty (Silovs), and sometimes you have to win when it doesn’t look perfect.” – Jeremy Colliton when asked about his team coming from behind in back-to-back games.
Abbotsford outshot Coachella Valley 28-26, and went 2 for 3 on the powerplay. Silovs made 24 saves putting up a save percentage of .885 for the Latvian. Up next for Abbotsford is a rematch with the Firebirds on Sunday night at Climate Pledge Arena, with the puck dropping at 6:00pm pst.
For tonight’s full AHL box score, please click HERE.