04/01/2011 10:04 PM
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 at Abbotsford Heat 4
April 1, 2011
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – The Abbotsford Heat stormed out to an early lead and handed the Grand Rapids Griffins their fourth straight loss, beating them 4-2 on Friday night at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.
The Griffins (35-30-2-8) will meet the Heat (35-29-4-6) again tomorrow in Abbotsford at 10 p.m. after dropping a game that got more important as the night went on. Grand Rapids now trails Lake Erie by eight points for the final guaranteed playoff spot in the North Division, after Hamilton jumped into second place with their win tonight. They're also five points behind a trio of West Division teams looking to take advantage of the AHL's crossover rule and secure the fourth playoff seed in the North.
The ice was titled towards the Abbotsford net in the early going, as the Griffins received three straight powerplays to start the game. However, it was the Heat who capitalized first, scoring at the 14:49 mark. Ales Kotalik, who was reassigned by the parent Calgary Flames yesterday, took a cross-ice feed from Carter Bancks and launched a one-timer past Thomas McCollum for his fifth goal of the season.
The Heat rode that momentum into the second period, enabling them to take a 3-0 lead. Ryan MacMurchy struck first at 3:59, beating McCollum with a backhander in close, before Heat captain Quintin Laing added his 11th of the year at 6:56. Laing took a long shot from the top of the circle and found his own rebound, which he was able to squeeze in from a bad angle.
Matt Keith found the back of the net at 18:15 as the Heat added one more before the second period ended. Keith raced in along the right wing and fired a slap shot over the glove hand of McCollum to give the Heat a 4-0 lead. McCollum, who made 18 saves in his first AHL start since Feb. 13, was pulled in favor of Jordan Pearce to start the third period.
Brent Raedeke got the Griffins on the board at 7:41 with his 8th goal of the season. Raedeke snapped a long shot past Leland Irving after a drop pass from Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist has now picked up a point in each of his first three professional games.
With 1:04 to go, the Griffins made it 4-2 when Brendan Smith came out of the box and put heavy pressure on a Heat defender who was retrieving a puck in his own end. An active stick by Smith helped force a loose puck that slid past Irving. Smith didn't receive credit for the goal for not touching the puck; Joakim Andersson, the last Griffin to touch it, was given his 7th goal on the season.
Three Stars: 1. ABB Brodie (two assists); 2. ABB Kotalik (goal); 3. ABB Dowling (assist)