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 Abbotsford Canucks

Abbotsford Canucks Take Game One as Their Quest for the Calder Cup Commences in Colorado

April 25, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Abbotsford Canucks News Release

The Abbotsford Canucks took the opening game of their opening-round playoff series on Wednesday night.

The AHL sees a three-game series to open the postseason for teams in the Pacific Division and the Canucks will play all the games at the higher-seed Colorado Eagles' rink.

Abbotsford rolled into the playoffs, playing some of their best hockey of the season. They picked up four consecutive wins against the team that eliminated them from the AHL playoffs last season and have shown that they have fine-tuned their system to be prepared for the playoff hockey that is now upon them.

"I thought we finished the season really well," said Abbotsford Head Coach Jeremy Colliton. "We won nine of our last 11 and it was more than just the results. We challenged the group to prepare better and play a playoff style. The guys really answered the call. We feel like our game is in a good place with how we're playing, and understanding what it takes to win playoff-style games. And that's a good feeling."

The Abbotsford Canucks are one of the youngest teams in the AHL and Colliton has been able to see the 19 and 20-year-olds grow into more mature players from the experiences that they have gone through over the past couple of seasons.

"You need guys to feel comfortable in the big moments and understand what's important and what it takes to win," said Colliton. "Sometimes just getting the puck out on the wall is as big as a goal. That's playoff hockey. Every moment is magnified, and you don't fully understand it until you've lived it and gone through it and truly understand the fine line between winning and losing."

Colliton is looking at his young guys to learn their lessons but also be leaders on the ice. Five of the top six scorers on the Canucks are 24 years old or younger. Sheldon Dries is the veteran of the group and scored a goal while adding an assist in the Canucks' game-one win.

"These kids keep us feeling young," said Dries with a laugh. "Johnny Stevens and I just turned 30, so we're creeping up there. But being around the guys, no matter how old you are, we get to be in a locker room every day with a group of great guys. It's awesome and it keeps me young so it's fun for sure."

As much as there is fun to be had, Dries enjoys putting a little extra on his shoulders at this time of the year. He mentioned Matt Irwin, John Stevens and Christian Wolanin being guys who want to be there for the young guys as well.

"It just comes with the territory," said Dries about providing advice from experience. "The longer you play, the more guys lean on you. Christian, Matty, and Johnny, we all want to be leaders on this team and do that on a nightly basis and there is no better time to do it than right now at playoff time."

For a majority of the season, Artūrs Šilovs and Nikita Tolopilo have been the mainstays between the pipes, but the NHL team came calling, and Šilovs has taken over the role as the backup for the Vancouver Canucks while Nikita Tolopilo is also with the NHL club as their emergency backup goaltender or EBUG.

Zach Sawchenko got the start for Abbotsford in game one and stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced in his playoff debut with the Canucks.

"Sawzy is awesome," said Dries. "We have full confidence in him, and it hasn't been the easiest year for him, but he's been the best teammate day in and day out. He's put in his time and he's one of the best teammates. We love that he can find this success in playoff time. It's a good feeling for our group."

Linus Karlsson led the Abbotsford Canucks with 60 points (23g-37a) in 60 games played.

Sheldon Dries was the goals leader with 29 goals on the season.

Arshdeep Bains finished the year with a +18.

Game two of the opening-round series is on Friday at 6:05 pm PT and can be viewed with an AHLTV subscription on

Youngsters Aätu Raty, Linus Karlsson, Tristen Nielsen, Elias Pettersson, Max Sasson, Arshdeep Bains, and Aidan McDonough join veterans Christian Wolanin, Sheldon Dries, Matt Irwin and more as the Abbotsford Canucks tread down the road towards the Calder Cup.

Info on AHL playoffs:

The opening round is a three-game series and the only series where the higher seed hosts all three games.

The second round is a best-of-five in the Division Semifinals.

The third round, or Division Finals, will also be a best-of-five series.

The fourth round is a best-of-seven Conference Finals.

The Calder Cup Finals is a best-of-seven series.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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