It was an uncharacteristic week for the Abbotsford Heat who entered Wednesday's action as the league's top team. Unfortunately, as has been the case all season, the Utica Comets have had the Heat's number as they dropped their mid-week set to the Canucks' affiliate.
And while it may not have been the way they wanted to enter their Christmas break they were able to end their road trip on a high note.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Heat were set back 4-2 by the Comets. Despite Carter Bancks' best efforts engaging in fisticuffs with Utica's Brandon DeFazio to start the game, it was the home team who struck first and in quick succession.
Kellen Lain and Patrick Mullen put Utica up by two late in the first period as they scored just two minutes apart. Heat head coach Troy G. Ward didn't like what he saw from his club to start the game, so he opted to swap Ortio with MacDonald in hopes of sparking his club.
Brett Olson answered back at 7:13 of the middle frame, but it was Mullen and Biega who put the Comets up 4-1. Brady Lamb added a late game marker, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit.
Friday evening's rematch against the Comets proved to be even more difficult for the Heat who couldn't find any offence in their 3-0 loss.
Utica's Lain and Grenier propped their team up 2-0 in the first period and added a third tally on an empty netter late in the third period.
Fortunately, Ortio was able to have a good bounce back game in the loss as he turned away 20 of the 22 shots he faced.
On Sunday afternoon, the Heat travelled back to Canada to take on the Hamilton Bulldogs where they were able to get back on track with a 3-2 shootout victory.
After a scoreless first period, the Bulldogs' Nattinen was able to give his team a 1-0 lead. It wouldn't last long, however, as captain Dean Arsene picked up his first goal in Heat silks to knot the game up at one apiece.
Chouinard responded less than two minutes later to put Hamilton up 2-1 going into the final frame. In the third period, it was Ben Hanowski to tie it up and force overtime with his tenth goal of the year - the third Heat player this season to reach that mark.
Overtime solved nothing, so the Heat had to go to their fifth shootout of the season. Thanks to rookies Markus Granlund, who is now 3/4 in the shootout, and Corban Knight, who is now 2/3 in the shootout, the Heat were able to snap a three game losing streak before Christmas break.
Ortio thwarted 32 of the 34 shots he faced, stopping all four shooters in extra frame and now flaunts a perfect shootout record.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
First Star - Max Reinhart
In a weekend where little went right for the Abbotsford Heat, Reinhart was able to pick up two assists in their three game road swing. He was able to provide consistent energy for his club and create his fair share of scoring chances despite the lack of goals to show for his efforts.
Second Star - Dean Arsene
The Heat's captain is more known for his steady defensive play rather than his offensive contributions, but it was his two points that truly stuck out for the grizzled veteran. He was able to muster a goal and an assist this week, including an important marker in the Heat's shootout victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Third Star - Corban Knight
Rookie centre, Corban Knight had himself a fairly average week until Sunday's game against the Bulldogs came along where he picked up a primary helper and a shootout goal to help lift his team out of a three game winless drought. Knight currently sits fifth in team scoring with 22 points in 32 games and is eighth in AHL scoring among rookies.
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