What worked for the Calgary Wranglers in their round two victory against the Canucks?
Photo credit:Jenn Pierce/Calgary Wranglers
6 months ago
While the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs wasn’t perfect for the Calgary Wranglers, they still found a way to defeat the Abbotsford Canucks and keep the series to four out of a possible five games. They worked through some rust that developed after being away from game action in their first round bye and cleaned some things up as the series went on. Overall, it was good enough to earn them a spot in the Pacific Division Finals. There were a few elements of their game that gave them an edge in this series and helped them get to where they are now.
The regular season leaders weren’t necessarily carrying the series for the Wranglers and as a result, they had to rely on other players for timely goals and assists. Nick DeSimone and Jeremie Poirier stood out as big time defencemen in these games nd stepped up whenever they could.
Nick DeSimone leads the team in postseason scoring after this series with one goal and four assists in four games. DeSimone scored the second goal in their only loss to the Canucks, but this goal put them within one in the third period and gave the Wranglers some hope to come back. The assistant captain brought a lot of on-ice leadership in this stretch of games and his numbers reflect that.
Jeremie Poirier is also in the top four in team postseason scoring averaging just under a point per game with a goal and two assists through the series. Poirier’s goal also occurred in the Wranglers’ loss and was the first goal of the game. Both Poirier and DeSimone have been part of the power play successes the Wranglers have had and earned some of their points in these scenarios as well.
Another defencemen to mention that didn’t necessarily break open scoring but had an impact, was Ilya Solovyov. Solovyov scored the tying goal in the Wranglers last game and started a third period comeback that eventually resulted in the game-winning goal and a series win for Calgary.
Third period comebacks
Speaking of third period comebacks, this was another element of the Wranglers’ game that helped them never say die and always stay in the game regardless of the remaining time on the scoreboard.
In game two, the Wranglers found themselves in a hole due to two shorthanded goals by the same player in the first period and another goal against them in the second. By the start of the third, they were down 3-1. Thankfully for them, the third period is where they play their best hockey.
Ben Jones wasted no time and scored 37 seconds into the period then Dryden Hunt scored on a power play goal 5:48 into the period. This quick stretch of goals bought them some time and they went on to win the game in overtime.
In game four, the Wranglers were down 2-1 going into the third period and really doubled down and got the job done once they were a few minutes into the last frame. As mentioned above, Solovyov scored the tying goal 8:29 into the period then Adam Klapka went on to score the game-winner 12:41 into the third. After that, they held their ground until the end of regulation and earned their spot in round three.
The Wranglers were playing their first overtime games of the year that weren’t on a three-on-three scenario. With the first two games of the series going to overtime, there was no shortage of big time moments to go around.
This team has a talent for elevating their game in these types of scenarios. Yes, being at home for both of their overtime games has got to have helped, but being successful in both really got this series started on the right foot.
In game one, they outshot the Canucks 8-5 in overtime and had the better of the chances. Jakob Pelletier ultimately scored the game winner 11:52 into the extra frame. In game two, shots were narrowed at 3-3 but it was Matthew Phillips who took advantage of a power play and scored the game winner 7:49 into overtime.
A lot of credit goes to Dustin Wolf in those games as his team relied on some big saves to stay in those games. Especially facing a next-goal-wins scenario.
Last but certainly not least, we have to give credit to the guy between the pipes. Dustin Wolf. Wolf went the whole way this series starting and completing all four games. He kept all the games within one to two goals. Sure, there are some goals he’d like back. A couple of deflections and technically a goal scored on themselves come to mind, but he without a doubt gave his team their best shot at making it through this round.
Wolf finished the four game stretch with over 258 minutes played, a 2.32 GAA and a .917 save percentage.
The Wranglers will have the opportunity to build off their second round successes with their first game of the third round taking place on Thursday night at home against the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
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