Abbotsford Canucks swept by Ontario Reign in ‘disappointing’ fashion

Abbotsford Canucks swept by Ontario Reign in ‘disappointing’ fashion

Canucks fall 4-3 in Wednesday’s do-or-die game three and are eliminated from the playoffs

The Abbotsford Canucks had a lot working against them on Wednesday’s (May 8) do-or-die game three against the Ontario Reign.

Down 2-0, playing a third-string goalie, competing for eyeballs with the first Vancouver Canucks second round playoff home game since 2011 and oh yeah – a talented Reign team.

Despite all those obstacles, Abbotsford was up 2-0 in the first and held that lead for much of the second period – until the roof quickly caved in.

The Reign scored three goals in 81 seconds from 8:59 of the second to 10:20 and that collapse likely cost the Canucks the season as they fell 4-3 to feel the sting of a sweep from the Reign.

Abbotsford head coach Jeremy Colliton described the 3-0 series loss as disappointing several times to the media following the game.

“I don’t think we played to our level this whole series, which is disappointing because this is the time of year you have to play your best to advance,” he said. “As a group they have to learn from this. It’s just disappointing to have to learn from it because your season is over and now the learning stops.”

Colliton hinted that some of his players did not elevate their game against Ontario.

“That’s the thing about playoffs is that the level continues to go up,” he said. “The competition goes up and you either step up and show you can do it or you’re done and shaking hands – that’s where we’re at.”

He stated that the most frustrating thing about this series loss is that he felt this team had much more potential.

“Part of the reason why I’m very disappointed is because I thought this group had a chance to do that,” he said, of a deep playoff run. “We fought through a lot of adversity and there are some growing pains associated with a younger group. I thought we had a chance to go deeper and what a great experience that would be. There should be some regret there because we left some on the table in this series.”

Abbotsford got goals from Aatu Räty, Christian Wolanin and Marc Gatcomb, while the Reign got tallies from Samuel Fagemo, Charles Hudon, Taylor Ward and a series-winning goal from Andre Lee.

The Reign completely shut down several of Abbotsford’s top players during the three-game sweep, including Arshdeep Bains (zero points), Linus Karlsson (zero points), Sheldon Dries (zero points), Tristen Nielsen (zero points), Max Sasson (one point) and Vasily Podkolzin (one point).

Wednesday saw defenceman Nick Cicek finish at -3, while Karlsson and Christian Wolanin were both -2. Strangely, Akito Hirose finished at a +3.

Wolanin said after the game that he accepts responsibility for some of those defensive breakdowns that led to the loss.

“At the end of the day I have to be more responsible,” he said. “Whether it’s lucky bounces or bad bounces, whatever, you’ve got to keep the puck out of your net. So I look in the mirror a bit.”

He gave credit to Ontario for the series win, but said he believes his team wasn’t at its best.

“They played a great series and we’re looking more at us,” he said. “We’re disappointed in ourselves more than we would like.”

Team captain Chase Wouters said it was hard to put his feelings into words. Wouters scored the game three overtime winner over the Colorado Eagles that sent Abbotsford to the second round, but said his team did not play its best against Ontario.

“I don’t think we got to our potential this series and that’s what stings,” he said. “They’re a good team and they have some high-end scoring and it showed. It’s just hard right now.”

Wouters has been the captain for the past two seasons and his contract is up. When asked about his status he said he has been completely focused on this season and is going to wait and see what happens. He was the first-ever player signed by the Abbotsford Canucks back on July, 22, 2021.

Ontaro’s Erik Portillo was arguably the series MVP and made 25 saves on Wednesday. He allowed just four goals over the three games and recorded one shutout. Abbotsford’s Zach Sawchenko made 19 saves in the loss, but Portillo was the more effective goalie in all three games.

Vancouver’s goaltending issues and injuries saw them call-up both Arturs Silovs and Nikita Tolopilo, leaving Abbotsford with Sawchenko and ECHL goalie Jonathan Lemieux for the entire playoffs.

Wednesday’s reported attendance at the Abbotsford Centre was 3,526, which was the third-lowest this season. However, they had to compete against a game with significant interest in Vancouver.

The Reign will now move on to the Pacific Division final and take on the winner of the Calgary Wranglers and Coachella Valley Firebirds series.

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