Print Edition: April 2, 2014
The Abbotsford Heat wrapped up their 12-game season series against the Utica Comets with two wins in a weekend series that featured strong performances from both Ben Street and Joni Ortio. The Heat had struggled in previous matchups with the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate, losing seven of their last eight games overall against the Comets.
Coming off a very physical afternoon loss to the Toronto Marlies last Sunday, the Heat travelled to New York and dealt a significant blow to the Comets’ playoff hopes, which were on life support to begin with. The Comets needed points to keep in the hunt, but without sniper Nicklas Jensen and steady defenseman Frankie Corrado, both of whom were on the Vancouver Canucks’ roster, as well as injuries to leading goal-scorer Benn Ferriero and team captain Colin Stuart, they were only able to pick up a single point.
Ortio, who earned the game’s first star, made 43 saves in the Heat’s 2-1 overtime win, going toe-to-toe with Comets’ netminder Joacim Eriksson all night. The game went back and forth, as both teams traded glorious chances in front of the sold-out crowd at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Comets forward Alex Friesen broke the deadlock at 8:14 of the first period with a shorthanded marker. Friesen was the recipient of a sly give-and-go from Jeremy Welsh, making the pass through his skates to put the Comets up 1-0.
Sven Baertschi pulled the Heat even with only 0.3 seconds left in the second frame. With time ticking off the clock, Street threw the puck out from the corner, hitting Baertschi’s skate and deflecting into the net. After video review, the goal stood, and the Heat and Comets went into the final frame all even.
After a scoreless third period, it was Street who provided the overtime goal for the Heat. The goal, Street’s 27th, came from a rebound off a Max Reinhart shot at 2:19 of the extra frame.
Allan McPherson, a forward who just signed a contract with the Heat this past week after finishing his season with the NCAA’s Clarkson Golden Knights, made his AHL debut in the victory.
While Friday night’s affair was a tight match where the next goal could be the game winner, Saturday’s game was a different story. The team netted five of their seven goals in the 7-2 beatdown in the second period, chasing Eriksson from the net midway through the game after five goals on 24 shots.
Street had a three-point night, picking up a goal and a couple helpers, while Ortio stopped 32 of 34 shots to earn the victory. The game’s opening goal came from Jordan Kremyr, the first of his professional career. Reinhart finishes the season series with 10 points in 10 games against the Comets. Baertschi has also picked up ten points in his last nine games with the Heat.
The Heat finished with three wins and three losses on their six-game road trip, and return home April 4 for a pair of important matchups against the Rockford Icehogs.