BRYAN WILSON – 04.26.2023
What a way to finish a hard-fought Game One.
The Wranglers hosted the Abbotsford Canucks for the first game of a best-of-five series, which kicked off at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night. Overtime was needed to determine a winner, with the Wranglers ultimately skating to a 3-2 OT win.
Dryden Hunt opened the scoring for Calgary, Adam Klapka notched his first career playoff goal and Jakob Pelletier played the hero in overtime, scoring the game winner for the Wranglers.
CGY Goal Scorers – Dryden Hunt – Adam Klapka – Jakob Pelletier
It was evident in the first period that the Canucks had been playing high tempo playoff games for the last week, while the Wranglers needed a few shifts to shake off the bye-week rust.
Wolf was steady between the pipes from the drop of the puck and kept Calgary on track in the first period, turning aside multiple grade-A chances from Abbotsford, including an absolute jaw-dropping pad save.
Midway through the first period, something rather unexpected happened as Matthew Phillips received a match penalty for spearing and was consequently tossed out the game. Phillips received 15 minutes worth of penalties on the play – more than he totaled during the entire regular season. (12 PIMS).
The fans were not impressed with the call, to be certain…
Calgary was able to kill off the ensuing five-minute major, drawing a penalty midway through to make it 4-on-4.
Without their leading scorer for the remainder of the game, the Wranglers relied on the depth of their forward group and the solid play of Wolf between the pipes. Momentum slowly appeared to be swinging back towards the home side after the successful PK.
Later, off an offensive zone faceoff win for Calgary, Kristians Rubins sent a shot towards the net that was turned aside by Canucks’ goaltender, Spencer Martin. However, Hunt pounced on the rebound and swept the puck towards the net, bouncing it off two Canucks defenders and across the goal-line to give the Wranglers the lead.
1-0 after 20 minutes.
Animosity began to take centre stage in the second period, with a little more extra-curricular activities and post-whistle scrums. The Wranglers had a few good looks on the powerplay, but Martin was sharp throughout, turning aside nine shots in the middle frame to keep the score close.
Calgary held onto the lead after 40 minutes. 1-0.
Abbotsford came out of the gates with a purpose in the third period and managed to tie the game quickly. At the 1:35 mark, Marc Gatcomb located the puck at side of net and sent a quick wrist shot into the back of the net to tie the game. 1-1.
A silence fell over the crowd after the goal, as if someone had pushed a mute button inside the Saddledome. A few minutes later, however, Wranglers’ fans would have something to cheer about once more.
At the 8:49 mark, captain Brett Sutter hit Klapka up the ice with a quick pass, who then skated into the Canucks’ zone and drove to the net. After fanning on his initial shot, he followed up with a wicked wrister that flew past Martin and into the back of the net.
The Wranglers led 2-1.
Abbotsford would respond to tie the game again with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, when Aatu Raty skated into the slot and fired a shot through traffic and into the back of the net.
The score remained tied 2-2 at the end of regulation, so overtime was needed.
Pelletier was the story in the extra frame.
After taking a high stick to the chops – which went undetected – Pelletier played with an added chip on his shoulder. He sent multiple shots on net in the early going, trying to sneak a shot to the far-side on Martin, but couldn’t get it to go. Then, at the 11:52 mark, he would get another chance. Pelletier skated across the blueline and though his initial pass was blocked, he found the loose puck and rifled it off the far-side post and into the net to win the game.
3-2 final (OT).
The Wranglers lead the best-of-five Pacific Division Semifinals 1-0. Game 2 is set for Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Puck drop 7pm. (GET TICKETS).