BRYAN WILSON – 04.28.2023

There’s just no quit in this team.

The Wranglers and Canucks needed overtime for the second straight game, with Calgary pulling off a dramatic 4-3 comeback victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night.

Clark Bishop got the scoring started for the Wranglers, while Ben Jones found the back of the net for his first of the postseason and Dryden Hunt notched his second goal of the series. Matthew Phillips had a mutli-point effot, scoring the OT winner and assisting on the tying marker, while Nick DeSimone had a three-point performance, picking up three helpers in the game.

Dustin Wolf made 24 saves to register the win between the pipes for the Wranglers, who now lead the best-of-five series 2-0.

CGY GOAL Scorers: Clark Bishop – Ben Jones – Dryden Hunt – Matthew Phillips

The Wranglers got off to a good start in the first period, generating chances early, and eventually capitalizing midway through the frame.

First, Kevin Rooney drove the net with speed, took the puck to his backhand and tried to chip it passed Canucks netminder Arturs Silovs. His attempt was stopped, but Bishop pounced on the loose puck and tapped it into the back of the net, giving the Wranglers a 1-0 lead. (9:54).

Silovs took a roughing penalty at the 17:37 mark which put the Wranglers on the powerplay late in the period. However, it was the Canucks who would take advantage by scoring two short-handed goals, in succession.

Arshdeep Bains lit the lamp twice for the Canucks. First, on a 2-on-1 rush up the ice, he kept and fired the puck passed Wolf to tie the game.  1-1. (18:30). Then, on the same short-handed sequence, Bains picked up a loose puck in front of the net, deked backhand to forehand and slid the puck passed Wolf’s outstretched pad. (19:25)

2-1 Canucks at the break.

Frustration began to boil over in the second period, as both teams traded blows and the parade to the penalty box continued.

Calgary, AB – (20230428): The Calgary Wranglers vs the Abbotsford Canucks at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night, AHL Game #2. (Photo by David Moll / Calgary Wranglers)

Later in the frame, the Wranglers were in the offensive zone and a cross-seam pass hit a skate and bounced out to centre ice where it was collected by Tristen Neilsen. He walked in all alone, picked his spot and deposited the puck into the back of the net.

3-1 Abbotsford after 40 minutes.

The third period started well for Calgary, who cut into the two-goal deficit just 37 seconds into the frame.

Off the opening faceoff, Ilya Solovyov sent the puck into the Canucks zone and a fortuitous bounce off the end boards popped the puck out to a forechecking Jones, who picked it up in front of the net and went backhand on Silovs.

3-2, just like that.

It would be interesting to know was said in the dressing room during the intermission, because whatever the message was, it certainly worked.

Moments later, at the 5:48 mark, the Wranglers tied the game as Phillips orchestrated some quick tic-tac-toe passing with DeSimone at the blueline and then spotted Hunt in the slot, who spun and fired home the tying tally.

Comeback complete… almost.

For the second straight game, overtime was required to determine a winner. The Wranglers started OT with a powerplay, however they couldn’t convert. Both teams traded chances, each firing three shots on net in the extra frame, but the final shot of the night came off the stick of Phillips.

With Nils Hoglander in the penalty box for the fourth time in the game, the Wranglers went to work on the powerplay – for the ninth time in the contest.

Phillips battled hard for the entire game and he took his lumps, but continued to fight through the adversity. So, it was fitting to see him score the game-winning goal; as he walked into the high slot and – with his trademark wrist-shot – zipped the puck through a maze of bodies and into the the net to win it for the Wranglers.

4-3 the OT final.

The Wranglers now lead the best-of-five series 2-0, with the series now shifting to Abbotsford for Game 3 on Wednesday May 3, with the potential to see the Wranglers punch their ticket to the Pacific Division finals with a win.

One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a battle.