BRYAN WILSON – 05.05.2023

The quest for the Calder Cup continues.

It was another close contest in Game 4 between the Wranglers and Canucks, and despite trailing twice in the contest, the Wranglers battled back with two third period goals to eventually seal the deal. With the 3-2 victory on Friday night in Abbotsford, Calgary advances to Round 3 – the Pacific Division Finals.

Cole Schwindt got the scoring started for Calgary, while Ilya Solovyov and Adam Klapka both lit the lamp in the third period to lift the Wranglers over the Canucks, taking the best-of-five series 3-1.

Dustin Wolf made 23 saves to pick up the win and earned First Star honours for his efforts.

CGY Goal Scorers – Cole Schwindt – Ilya Solovyov – Adam Klapka

It was a physical start to the first period, as both teams finished checks with authority in the early going, which certainly fired up the crowd inside the Abbotsford Centre.

The Canucks would open the scoring 2:18 into the frame. After Wolf took a point shot off the mask, he was knocked down in the blue paint, allowing Nils Hoglander to fire the puck into the wide-open net. The referees would deliberate, but the goal would count. 1-0 Abbotsford.

Calgary continued to press after the opening marker, generating multiple chances in the offensive zone and eventually, drew a penalty.

On the ensuing man-advantage, Connor Zary – surveying behind the net – spotted Schwindt in front who sent a one-time shot by goaltender Spencer Martin.

1-1 after 20 minutes.

It was a parade to the penalty box in the second period, with the Wranglers taking four minor penalties to the Canucks’ three in the frame. Although they didn’t result in goals for either side, the endless penalties certainly disrupted the flow for Calgary.

Then, at the 15:33 mark of the period, the Canucks would take the lead once again.

Off a turnover at the blueline, Christian Wolanin sent a pass across to a wide-open Tristen Nielsen, who then sent a one-timer on net. Wolf was able to push across laterally and get his left pad on the puck, but it dribbled passed him and into the net.

2-1 Canucks at the break.

The message from head coach Mitch Love all season long has been about focusing on the fine details of the game: blocking shots, winning puck battles, and generating chances off the forecheck, and that is exactly what the Wranglers did in the final frame.

Midway through the third period, after a big block from Solovyov on the previous play, the Wranglers had an opportunity with a faceoff in the Canucks end. Kevin Rooney won the draw to Matthew Phillips who chipped it back to the blueline where Solovyov blasted a shot through traffic, which redirected off a body in front and into the net.

Tie game. 2-2.

Later, at 12:41 of the period, Klapka took a pass from Jakob Pelletier, walked into the slot, and fired a shot on net which was stopped initially by Martin, however, the rebound popped back onto Klapka’s stick. He backhanded home the go-ahead marker which would hold up as the game-winner. The tally ultimately clinched the series for the Wranglers, who advanced to the Pacific Division Finals.

The Wranglers’ next opponent: the Coachella Valley Firebirds.