The largest crowd in Abbotsford Canucks franchise history went home disappointed after the Calgary Wranglers earned a 5-3 win and completed a three-game road sweep of the Canucks on Saturday (Jan. 21).
A sell-out crowd of 7,081 jammed the Abbotsford Centre, the first time in franchise history to achieve a full house.
Calgary’s Ben Jones put a damper on the evening early, scoring just 43 seconds into the first period. The Canucks answered back when Linus Karlsson connected on the power play for his 12th goal of the season at 6:52. Abbotsford has the 14-8 shots edge after one.
The Wranglers took over in the second period, getting goals from Mitch McLain and Connor Zary (power play). Vasily Podkolzin added a goal at 18:05 to make it a one-goal game. Abbotsford had the 13-11 shots edge in the second.
We don't know how Podz squeezed the puck in there, but we're not complaining 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/AzYQpYSMOv— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) January 22, 2023
But the crowd roared in the second when defenceman Alex Kannok Leipert noticed 6-7, 235 pound Adam Klapka hit captain and teammate Chase Wouters and decided to challenge him to a fight. Kannok Leipert more than held his own in the tussle and his efforts received the largest applause all night.
Is anybody else still thinking about this Alex Kannok Leipert scrap from the 2nd period? pic.twitter.com/Mw5zGMYyrK— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) January 22, 2023
The third period saw the Wranglers get a goal from Cole Schwindt at 12:50 and then an empty net goal from Brent Sutter at 18:13. Danila Klimovich scored a late power play goal.
Another scary incident occurred late in the third period when defenceman Dennis Gilbert hit Karlsson with what appeared to be a head shot. Karlsson was laid out on the ice and immediately went to the dressing room. His status is not yet known. Kannok Leipert again answered the bell and fought Gilbert.
Gilbert received a match penalty for a check to the head, while Kannok Leipert earned two game misconducts – one for instigating a fight in the final five minutes and another for his second fight/third major penalty. Kannok Leipert was assessed with 32 penalty minutes in total. It’s possible that both players may receive suspensions.
Phil Di Giuseppe led all players with seven shots on goal and the Canucks outshot Calgary 36-28. Silovs made 21 saves in the loss.
Not our night. pic.twitter.com/fFFYJ78S9e— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) January 22, 2023
The Canucks have lost six of seven games against Calgary this season, but head coach Jeremy Colliton said the games were closer than the final results indicate.
“For us to get two points [over these three games] and them to get six – I’m not sure that’s a representation of how the games were played,” he said.
Calgary won in overtime on Wednesday (Jan. 18) and then won in a shootout on Friday (Jan. 20). Colliton said he didn’t like the first period on Wednesday or the third period on Saturday, but other than that he was pleased with his team’s play.
“They’re a little bit more experienced than us,” he said of the Wranglers. “And they were able to take advantage when we let our guard down and they made us pay. More than likely we will be meeting them in the playoffs and I hope we do because it’s great for our group.”
"We definitely had our moments, they're a little bit more experienced than us... they made us pay."— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) January 22, 2023
Jeremy Colliton addressed the media following Abbotsford's 5-3 defeat to Calgary. pic.twitter.com/yvsAnkDz0w
Colliton pointed out that the Wranglers, formerly the Stockton Heat, had an excellent season in 2021-22 and much of the team returned this season.
“They understand how to when hockey games and they have high end and elite talent,” he said. “And we’re learning – we’re not at all satisfied with these three games.”
Wouters mentioned that Calgary is a quality team and he hopes the Canucks can take some positives out of the three games. He also appreciated Kannok Leipert for answering the call, especially against a much larger opponent.
“He’s one of my best friends and he’s a great team guy,” he said. “That’s just something he brings to the rink. I just can’t say enough good things about the guy.”
Abbotsford’s record falls to 22-12-2-2 after this weekend and they now sit in fourth place in the Pacific Division. The Canucks next host the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday (Jan. 24) and Wednesday (Jan. 25).