BRYAN WILSON – 02.17.2023
It might have been a low-scoring contest, but it sure was exciting.
The Wranglers were back in action on Friday night hosting the Colorado Eagles for the first time at the Scotiabank Saddledome this season – the first game between the two teams since late October 2022. It was a tight contest, but in the end the Wranglers came away with a 2-1 overtime win, their 35th ‘W’ of the season.
Matthew Phillips tied the game late in the third period on the powerplay with his league-leading 26th goal of the season, while Ilya Solovyov netted his first of the year in dramatic fashion, scoring the OT winner. He had an impactful game defensively, as well, with his performance garnering the game’s First Star nod. Connor Zary had two assists in the game, and is heating up with three points in his last two contests.
It was a goaltender’s duel between Dustin Wolf and Jonas Johansson, with Wolf making 31 saves to pick up his AHL leading 29th win of the season.
CGY Goal Scorers – Matthew Phillips – Ilya Solovyov
The Wranglers were on their heels to start the game, as the Eagles came out flying, outshooting Calgary 6-0 in the early going. Fortunately, Wolf was dialled-in right from the get-go, keeping things close while the Wranglers got settled.
Calgary started to push the pace as the period moved along, generating multiple quality chances on net, but Johansson stood tall for the Eagles, turning aside 15 shots in the first period to keep the game scoreless at the break.
The storyline was similar in the second period.
Calgary looked to pull ahead with a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity midway through the frame, however, it was the Eagles who got the best chance to take the lead. Anton Blidh picked off a pass at the Eagles blueline and was off to the races, only to be hauled down on the breakaway, garnering a penalty shot on Wolf. Blidh attempted a five-hole try, but Wolf read it with ease and closed the wickets quickly to deny the Colorado shooter.
It remained scoreless heading into the third period.
The Eagles would break the deadlock on the powerplay at the 6:37 mark with a goal from Brad Hunt, who blasted home his seventh of the season to give Colorado a 1-0 lead. (Hunt was named as the captain of the Eagles just prior to the start of the game.)
Calgary’s penalty-kill came into the night operating at 86.0 percent, tops in the league, and it would be tested in a big way in the third period. A five-minute major penalty was assessed to Alex Gallant midway through the frame, but the Wranglers executed a textbook PK to kill it off. It really shifted the momentum in Calgary’s favour, as the crowd began to rally behind their team.
Minutes later, the Wranglers got a powerplay chance of their own and would make good.
With seconds left on a 5-on-3, Jeremie Poirier took an initial shot that was blocked in front, but the puck bounced to Phillips who swatted it home to tie the game at one a piece.
Overtime was needed to determine a winner.
The Wranglers dominated the extra frame, maintaining possession and zone time throughout. A little more than two minutes in, Calgary established a strong cycle in the zone. Zary moved the puck to Radim Zohorna, who left the puck for Ilya Solovyov along the boards, he then skated into the slot and wired home the game-winner, his first goal of the season.
2-1 the final score.
The Wranglers and Eagles will face off again on Sunday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Puck drop is 6pm MST. CLICK FOR TICKETS.