The Abbotsford Canucks had a very successful week winning back-to-back games against the Henderson Silver Knights where they scored six goals and only allowed two. Led by the rock-solid goaltending tandem of Mike DiPietro and Arturs Silovs, the overtime heroics of Madison Bowey, and Nic Petan’s two-goal Canucks debut, they pushed their record to a very solid 3-1-1 and moved within two points of the Pacific Division lead.
In this week’s Canucks on the Farm, we are going to zero in on the goaltending performances of Silovs and DiPietro so far this season. More specifically, Silovs’ early bid to become the top dog in Abbotsford after two exceptional games where he only allowed two goals and posted his first-ever professional shutout.
Silovs’ Hockey Journey From Latvia to North America
Drafted 156th overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the 2019 NHL Draft, Silovs, like most goaltenders the Canucks choose, came highly recommended by goaltending guru Ian Clark. Then-head of amateur scouting Judd Brackett said as much in his evaluation of Silovs after the team selected him.
Great length, power, elasticity, things that Dan Cloutier and Ian Clark both like and feel like they’re…very, very good qualities to develop with.
The Canucks were drawn to the 6-foot-4 Latvian goaltender mostly because of his dominant performance in the 2019 Under-18 World Championship where he backstopped Latvia to a quarter-final appearance. At times appearing unbeatable, Silovs shut out a strong Slovakian team in the deciding game of the preliminary round and nearly upset Canada with a 40-save performance where he only allowed two goals.
After being drafted by the Canucks, he made the trek over to North America to join the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Barrie Colts for the 2019-20 season. He ended up having an average campaign, finishing with a 3.87 goals-against average (GAA), .891 save percentage (SV%), and a shutout. The pandemic prevented him from appearing in the playoffs for the first time in his career, but he did complete his one and only OHL season with a winning record of 16-13-4.
With the OHL delaying and eventually canceling the 2020-21 season, Silovs returned to Latvia to continue his development. Split between HS Riga and HK Mogo, he started six games and finished with a 4.34 GAA and .923 SV% and a 2.56 GAA and .899 SV% respectively before returning to North America to play for the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Silovs’ Stock is Rising
Expected to start the 2021-22 season in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings, Silovs outperformed Spencer Martin to earn a spot on Abbotsford’s opening night roster. He also had a tremendous period and a half of preseason hockey against the Seattle Kraken where kept the Canucks in the game before the Kraken broke it open in the second period. Clearly, the long layoff and limited game action didn’t affect him too much.
What did affect him was the coaching of Ian Clark, someone who the Canucks are very lucky to have to guide the ship when it comes to the science and psychology of goaltending. Speaking to Canucks Army’s David Quadrelli in August, Silovs had nothing but praise for him.
I’m getting experience and new ideas of how to play in goal…It’s more about mentality and details in the game. How to save more energy, how to play properly, it’s been really good. I’ve never had a coach like Ian before so it’s been a good experience for me. It’s more about just improving my movement, my skill in total, and just to become a better goalie.
Now into his second professional season (or first, if you don’t count the one game he got with the Moose), Silovs is starting to open the eyes of fans and pundits everywhere. With Abbotsford’s first win and first shutout under his belt, he might even be a fan favourite at this point.
Could Silovs Usurp DiPietro as the Starter in Abbotsford?
When you look at the stats so far this season, Silovs is clearly the better goaltender. With a minuscule 0.96 GAA, sparkling .968 SV%, and a perfect 2-0 record, he’s outperformed his crease mate and then some. He currently leads all AHL goaltenders in both GAA and SV%.
DiPietro has struggled in his three starts and currently holds an inflated 3.27 GAA and rather low .882 SV%. It’s early in the season, but the promise of him starting upwards of 60 games is starting to look very unlikely, especially if Silovs continues his hot streak. Having said that, the panic button should not be pressed on his season yet. Knowing DiPietro’s competitiveness and overall skill set, he should be able to get his season back on track in no time. When that inevitably happens, hopefully Silovs is still performing at a high level. Having two goaltenders on their game is never a bad thing in the AHL.
Ideally, Cull will be able to employ a 1A/1B sort of tandem moving forward. If that happens, the Canucks should have a good chance at going on a long Calder Cup run where they could maybe, just maybe bring a championship home in their inaugural season in the league.
Abbotsford Canucks News & Notes
- After clearing waivers and reporting to Abbotsford, Petan promptly scored his first two goals of the season in a 3-0 blanking of the Silver Knights and former Canuck and Utica Comet Sven Baertschi, who was held to no points and only six shots on goal.
- Justin Bailey had a monster week, finishing with a goal and three points. He currrently leads the team in scoring with six points in five games. He was recalled to Vancouver on Tuesday where he played in the home opener against the Minnesota Wild. He finished a minus-1 in 10:06 of ice time, which included 2:15 on the penalty kill.
- Danila Klimovich did not add to his goal total this week, but he did pick up a beauty of an assist on John Stevens’ third-period goal on Friday. He also was dangerous in the 3-0 win, finishing with three shots on goal.
- Bowey was also in the news this week as he scored the Canucks’ first-ever overtime goal at home in a 3-2 triumph over the Silver Knights.
- After deciding to return to the NHL, defenceman Travis Hamonic was seen skating on Wednesday in Abbotsford. He will probably play in both games against the Reign and hopefully return to Vancouver’s lineup sooner rather than later.
The Week That Was
- Oct. 22 vs. Henderson Silver Knights, 3-2 overtime win
- Oct. 24 vs. Henderson Silver Knights, 3-0 win
- Oct. 29/30 vs. Ontario Reign
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.