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Abbotsford Canucks opening AHL playoffs without top two goalies

Canucks crease carousel leads to Abbotsford opening series vs. Colorado with Zach Sawchenko in goal
The Abbotsford Canucks are entering the playoffs with Zach Sawchenko (front right) and Jonathan Lemieux (front left) as the team’s goaltender duo. Arturs Silovs (back left) and Nikita Tolpilo (back right) are both travelling with Vancouver.

The Vancouver Canucks injury domino appears to have hit Abbotsford hard at the worst time possible.

The Abbotsford Canucks open the American Hockey League playoffs tonight (Wednesday) in Colorado and will start the best-of-three series without Arturs Silovs and Nikita Tolopilo – the team’s top two goalies.

Vancouver initially called up Silovs to serve as the emergency back-up goalie (EBUG) in game one against the Nashville Predators on Sunday (April 21), but he moved from the press box to the bench after it was revealed that Demko suffered an undisclosed injury in that game.

Demko’s injury status has been set at week to week and he is questionable to return in the Nashville series.

Vancouver then decided to recall Tolopilo to serve as the EBUG for game two on Tuesday (April 23). Nashville earned a 4-1 win in that game.

It appears that Tolopilo will continue to serve in the EBUG role for the time being when the team travels to Nashville for games on Friday (April 26) and Sunday (April 28).

As a result, the Canucks have recalled Kalamazoo Wings goalie Jonathan Lemieux from the ECHL to slot in as the Abbotsford back-up goalie tonight. It’s believed that Zach Sawchenko will get the start in game one for the Canucks against the Colorado Eagles.

Lemieux finished with a record of 17-16-3, a goals against average of 2.84 and a save percentage of .911 with the Wings. The 2023-24 season was the 22-year-old’s first as a professional. He previously played with Concordia University and suited up in the QMJHL as a junior.

Sawchenko saw limited AHL action this season and for the majority of the campaign he was a third-string goalie in Abbotsford. He appeared in six games with the Canucks and posted a record of 4-1, a save percentage of .924 and a goals against average of 2.12.

The 26-year-old has played seven games in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks and last season played 41 games with the Chicago Wolves. Sawchenko has not played in a playoff game since the 2018-19 U Sports season when he played with the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

The Canucks and Eagles met eight times during the regular season, with each team winning four.

The series opens tonight at 6:05 p.m., with game two set for Friday (April 26). Game three, if necessary, is set for Sunday (April 28).

Continue visiting for ongoing coverage from the series.

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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