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Abbotsford’s Zach Sawchenko emerges with 28-save performance in game one playoff win

Canucks goalie carousel pays off with 4-2 win over Colorado, Abbotsford takes 1-0 series lead

The goalie carousel proved to be a sweet ride for the Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday (April 24) night.

With regular goaltending duo Arturs Silovs and Nikita Tolopilo both called up to Vancouver, Abbotsford gave the playoff reins to rarely-used Zach Sawchenko. He was backed up by ECHL call-up Jonathan Lemieux.

Sawchenko had never played in an AHL playoff game prior to Wednesday and hadn’t suited up in a postseason game of any kind since 2019 when he was a member of the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

But none of that mattered on Wednesday, as Sawchenko made 26 saves to lead the Canucks to a 4-2 win over the Colorado Eagles in game one of the first round best-of-three series.

It wasn’t just an individual effort from Sawchenko though, as Abbotsford’s leading scorer Sheldon Dries scored a pair or clutch goals including the eventual game-winner.

Arshdeep Bains opened the scoring just 1:56 into the game after dominant early offensive zone play from the Canucks. Linemates John Stevens and Aidan McDonough recorded the assists on the goal.

Colorado’s Callahan Burke tied the game up at 11:50 with a power play goal and the teams were knotted up at one after one.

Abbotsford again took the lead when Dries scored his first of the game following an excellent set-up by Tristen Nielsen. Colorado responded around six minutes later when the man known as Ivan Ivan tied the game up.

Dries then put the Canucks up for good after he and his linemates capitalized following a penalty kill. Nielsen and Cole McWard were credited with the assists.

Abbotsford went on to play a perfect third period, pushing the pace in the first half and then limiting Colorado’s chances as the period continued. Linus Karlsson added an empty net goal at 19:34 after a thundering open ice hit by Stevens freed up the puck.

Colorado outshot Abbotsford 30-18 in the game, with both Bains and Max Sasson recording four shots. Dries, Nielsen, McWard and Akito Hirose were all a team-best +2.

The Canucks were zero for two on the power play, while Colorado went one for four.

Abbotsford takes the 1-0 series lead into game two on Friday (April 26). The game will also occur in Colorado with a face-off time of 6:05 p.m. Abbotsford-time. A win and the Canucks will eliminate Colorado and move on to the Pacific Division semi-final round.

Keep visiting for ongoing Calder Cup playoff coverage.

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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