The Abbotsford Heat outplayed the Toronto Marlies in a crucial division matchup on Sunday.
Roman Horak scored with less than three minutes remaining to lift the Heat over the host Toronto Marlies 3-2 in American Hockey League action, giving Abbotsford a key win in the North Division.
Horak collected his 13th goal of the season — tying for second in the AHL — when he scored on the power play at 17:25 of the third period. With Marlies defenceman Paul Ranger in the penalty box for interference, Ben Walter’s shot was blocked by Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens but the rebound bounced into the slot where Horak gathered it up and slid it into the open net.
“They’re not in first place by accident,” said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins. “They’ve got a strong group of players, they play well as a team and their goaltending has been excellent.”
Toronto trailed 2-0 at the second intermission, but evened up the score by the 13-minute mark of the third period.
“It was frustrating, but I thought we got our feet moving better and put more pucks on the net in the third,” said Eakins, whose team was limited to 18 shots. “I liked how we played harder and came back and tied it up.”
Added Eakins: “There were some positives in the third period, and like any game there were things we need to work on.”
Max Reinhart and Ben Street scored in the second period for the Heat (14-4-5), with Horak adding an assist for a two-point night. Walter also contributed a pair of assists as Abbotsford halted a three-game losing streak, its longest skid of the season.
The game featured the top two teams in the AHL’s North Division as Abbotsford (14-4-5, 33 points) padded its lead on second-place Toronto.
Greg McKegg and Brad Ross, with his first goal as a professional, replied for the Marlies (13-9-1), who saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.
“I liked seeing Brad Ross going hard to the net like that,” Eakins said. “Those are the kind of goals he’s going to score in this league.”
Heat netminder Barry Brust stopped 16 shots for the win, while Scrivens made 20 saves.
Abbotsford went 1 for 3 on the power play while Toronto was 0 for 3.
Reinhart opened the scoring three minutes into the second period after a Toronto turnover. Marlies defenceman Paul Ranger tumbled into the boards while trying to retrieve the puck, allowing Horak to set up Reinhart in the slot and he snapped a quick shot over Scrivens’ shoulder.
Street made it 2-0 at 9:16 of the second after Troy Brodie’s shot hit the goal post and bounced into the crease, where Street pounced on the puck and stuffed it past Scrivens.
McKegg scored for the Marlies at 4:15 of the third period — which led to fans throwing hundreds of stuffed animals on the ice in the “Teddy Bear Toss” for charity — when he whipped a wrist shot over Brust’s blocker. The goal counted even though it appeared Toronto defenceman Korbinian Holzer was offside on the play.
“That was a time where you don’t want the teddy bear toss,” Eakins said. “Because we finally scored and got some momentum and then the game comes to a screeching halt (to clear off the ice).”
The Marlies tied it up when Ross scored at 13:00 of the third. The 20-year-old left-winger deflected Mike Kostka’s point shot past Brust to make it 2-2.