ABBOTSFORD, BC -- The Abbotsford Heat beat the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) 3-2 in the shootout on Saturday night to split a two-game weekend series at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC).
Krys Kolanos scored for the second straight night and added a shootout goal while Danny Taylor made 32 saves in the Heat’s 21st home win of the season. The victory keeps the Heat just three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with four games remaining in their 76-game regular season schedule.
The Griffins took a 1-0 lead at 17:06 of the first period with a power play goal by rookie defender Chad Billins. The Griffins led the game 1-0 after 20 minutes of play.
Tyler Ruegsegger scored at 7:31 of the second period, his ninth goal of the season. Sven Baertschi and Ben Walter drew assists on the power play goal that tied the game 1-1 heading to the second intermission.
The Heat erased back-to-back delay of game penalties early in the third period, including 43 seconds of five-on-three power play time. The Heat took their first lead of the game at 11:27 of the third period when Kolanos converted a goal mouth scramble for his second goal of the weekend. It was Kolanos’ team-leading 16th of the season and the goal put Abbotsford up 2-1.
The Griffins tied the game just 1:35 after the Heat took the lead, and the game went to overtime tied 2-2.
A shootout was required after five minutes of scoreless four-on-four hockey. With goals from Walter, Kolanos and Blair Jones, the Heat outscored the Griffins 3-1 in the shootout to earn the extra point.
Taylor started for the sixth time in the last seven games, making 32 saves on 34 shots before stopping three of four Griffins attempts in the shootout. Taylor was named the first star of the game as the Heat were outshot by a 34-28 margin.
The Heat scored one power play goal on three opportunities, while the penalty kill erased three of four Grand Rapids man advantages. The Heat power play is six of eighteen in the last four games played.
Abbotsford will host the final two home games of the regular season on Friday and Sunday against the North Division leading Toronto Marlies. Hockey Hall of Fame member Darryl Sittler will be honoured on Friday, highlighting a busy weekend of events at the AESC. Friday will also provide one fan a chance to win a new 2013 Honda Fit, Heat wives and girlfriends will be hosting a silent auction to benefit Cancer research, and the season’s final ‘Loonie, Toonie, Dog ‘N Brew’ night will take place.
Sunday afternoon is the Player Appreciation Night, where the winners of the Heat 2012-13 Team Awards will be announced before puck drop. Over 400 students will be performing the national anthem as part of ‘Sing for Spring’ at the final Heat home game of the regular season.
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