And just like that, both the Vancouver Canucks and Abbotsford Canucks are out of the playoffs.
The team kicked off their Calder Cup chase on Tuesday night, facing off against the Bakersfield Condors in a best-of-three series.
Both clubs fared pretty well during the regular season, finishing with 84 points apiece. However, Bakersfield registered two more regulation wins than Abbotsford, securing home ice advantage for the entire series as a result.
It was all Bakersfield to kick off Tuesday night’s game, registering 20 shots in the first period alone. Fortunately for Abbotsford, they were saved by the return of Spencer Martin who, alongside Nic Petan and Sheldon Dries, was reassigned to the AHL after his brief season-ending stint with Vancouver.
Martin continued his heroics in the second period, turning aside 11 more shots while his teammates were only about to muster up six.
Despite being outshot by a wide margin of 31-13 after 40 minutes of play, Abbotsford managed to find a way to open the scoring halfway through the final frame, thanks to Vasily Podkolzin‘s first AHL goal. Podkolzin was also reassigned to Abbotsford following the conclusion of the NHL season.
Unfortunately, Abbotsford wasn’t able to hold onto the lead for the full period, eventually surrendering the game-tying goal with just 30 seconds left to send the contest to overtime.
Bakersfield carried over their momentum into the extra frame, drawing a tripping penalty against Noah Juulsen before James Hambin notched the game-winning goal on the powerplay. Former Canuck Tim Schaller also registered the primary assist.
With only a 24-hour turnaround time between games, Abbotsford dressed the same line-up for game two on Wednesday night, including Martin between the pipes for the second consecutive night.
Fortunately for Martin, his teammates were able to put together a much better start than the night before, with team MVP Dries opening the scoring in the opening minutes.
Abbotsford maintained the one-goal lead well into the second period before Adam Cracknell tied it up with just under two minutes to go in the second period.
Just like the night before, Bakersfield carried their momentum into the third period, establishing their first lead of the game in the early minutes, thanks to a goal from captain Brad Malone.
With their season on the line, Abbotsford continued to fight back, with Sheldon Rempal bringing the contest back to level at the halfway mark of the third period. Podkolzin also registered the assist on the play, marking his second career AHL point.
Unfortunately, Abbotsford wasn’t able to complete the comeback, eventually surrendering the series-winning goal to Cooper Marody, who sent the puck past a sprawled Martin with just minutes left on the clock.
Martin finished the evening with 30 saves, bringing his total to 75 over two games. Podkolzin and Rempal lead the team in scoring with 2 points each.
With the series win, Bakersfield will now advance to the semifinals, while Abbotsford, like their NHL counterpart, will just have to wait until next year to restart their playoff push.
What are your thoughts from the Abbotsford/Bakersfield series? Let us know in the comments!