TOUGH TEXAS SWING
Everything's bigger in Texas and the Heat experienced a couple of big losses at the hands of the San Antonio Rampage and the Texas Stars. However, they were able to muster an overtime victory on Saturday evening against the very same Rampage team that gave them trouble earlier in the week.
In a mid-week match against the Florida Panthers' affiliate San Antonio Rampage, the Heat were set back 5-1 due to a monstrous night for the Rampage's power play unit.
Heat defenceman Mark Cundari opened the scoring just 1:35 into the game to give Abbotsford an early lead. Yet, despite a solid opening period effort, they couldn't slow San Antonio's relentless play on the man advantage.
With six minutes remaining in the first period, John McFarland tied it up on the power play to go into the first intermission. It was all Rampage from that point on as Joey Crabb, Bobby Butler, Colby Robak and Matt Gilroy added to the Rampage lead.
San Antonio finished the game four for six on the man advantage while the Heat couldn't convert on their five opportunities.
On Friday, the Heat headed north to Cedar Park, Texas where they took on the Texas Stars. Unfortunately, things didn't go Abbotsford's way as they were shutout 5-0 thanks to a three point night from rookie Brett Richie.
Richie opened the scoring on the power play 5:27 into the first period. Just two minutes later Francis Wathier made it 2-0 followed by a third marker from former Heat forward Justin Dowling. The Stars added two goals to their lead in the final frame.
Joey MacDonald made 38 saves on 43 shots in the match while the Stars' Cristopher Nilstorp stopped all 26 of the Heat's shots for the win.
Back in San Antonio for a Saturday rematch, Joni Ortio and the Heat were looking for a bit of revenge and they got it.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, Chad Billins responded with his seventh goal of the season, ending a personal eight game goal scoring drought. In the middle frame, Garrett Wilson gave the Rampage a 2-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
Midway through the third period, Heat rookie Josh Jooris added a big unassisted marker to tie the game at 2-2 and eventually force extra time. In overtime, with just 1:22 remaining, veteran sniper Ben Street played hero as he netted his team leading seventeenth goal of the season for the win.
Heat head coach Troy G. Ward picked up his 100th career AHL victory as a head coach while rookie net-minder Joni Ortio made 31 of 33 stops for his league leading sixteenth win of the season.
The Heat will head to Rockford to face the Ice Hogs for the second time this season in an early 10 a.m. matchup on Wednesday. They will then head to Grand Rapids to face the Western Conference leading Griffins on Friday and Saturday.
HEAT THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
First Star: Max Reinhart - Despite the Heat's lackluster week, Reinhart was able to pick up two primary assists. He currently has 13 points in his last 13 games as the Flames' 2010 third rounder continues to build on an impressive sophomore campaign.
Second Star: Ben Street - Before his late night call up on Saturday, Ben Street helped the Heat end a four game losing skid as he netted his second overtime winner and seventeenth goal of the season. The 26-year-old centre was named to the AHL All-Star team on Thursday and will represent the Heat alongside teammate Chad Billins.
Third Star: Josh Jooris - The Heat rookie was instrumental in his team's Saturday night victory over the San Antonio Rampage. Playing on the top line with Ben Street, Jooris picked up an unassisted game tying goal midway through the third period to force overtime.
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