ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Justin Schultz may have been playing on the road but his overtime goal Saturday brought on cheers the 22-year-old will eventually hear in Edmonton.
Schultz scored at 1:36 in extra time to lead the Oklahoma City Barons to a 2-1 win over the Abbotsford Heat in the American Hockey League.
With the NHL players still locked out Schultz hasn't had a chance to play for the Oilers, with whom he signed this summer.
However, a lot of pro-hockey starved Edmonton fans made the trip west to Abbotsford to see Schultz and NHL regulars Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, selling out the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre both Friday and Saturday night. Roughly half the 7,046 fans were pro-Barons.
"It was great," said Schultz. "Sold-out barn both nights. It almost felt like a playoff game out there. It was really intense, and it was a fun couple games to be a part of."
Schultz took a pass at the blue-line from Eberle and stepped into a hard wrist shot that sailed past the glove of goalie Danny Taylor.
"Actually, I was pretty tired coming off the ice — I was thinking about changing," said Schultz. "But I stayed out there, and (Eberle) had it, and I knew he was going to find me. He made a great pass. Their D-man was kind of screening the goalie, so I just put it in."
The defenceman now has seven goals on the season and leads the AHL in scoring with 16 points.
Taylor Hall had the other goal for the Barons (6-5-1), who snapped a three-game winless skid including a lacklustre 4-0 loss to the Heat Friday.
"It was a good game all-around for us," said Hall. "From start to finish we played really well. It's good to see some of our big guys get on the board. It'll be a good ride home now."
Dustin Sylvester scored for the Heat (7-1-3) with 1:45 to go in regulation, forcing overtime.
"We didn't play too well in the first two periods but near the end of the second we started to come on and in the third we played a lot better," said Sylvester. "Fortunately we got one point out of it."
Oklahoma's Yann Danis made 31 saves in the win, while Taylor stopped 32 shots.
"They were probably a bit bitter over last night," said Sylvester. "They came out a lot harder tonight. That was expected, we knew they were going to do that."
Much was made of the weekend set by the media and some of the players were buying into the hype too. Though Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward felt the storylines were overblown, he was pleased with the outcome.
"If you go back to the ... supposedly daunting task of who we were playing, we didn't give up a five-on-five goal," said Ward. "We gave up a four-on-four goal and they got a power-play goal in two complete games. I feel pretty good where our team is at."
There were no goals through two periods thanks to stellar goaltending on both sides, but Oklahoma City finally broke through at 7:46 of the third.
Hall began the play by centring the puck to Nugent-Hopkins in front. Though Taylor stopped him and Teemu Hartikainen with a sprawling save, Hall had creeped in and backhanded the puck over his glove.
Hall, playing just his fourth game for the Barons since returning from a shoulder surgery, picked up his second goal of the season.
The goal ended a goal less drought of 187 minutes two seconds, a new team record of futility, surpassing the old mark by more than two periods.
But the Heat tied the game late in regulation. Paul Byron, playing just his second game of the season, centred the puck to Ben Street in front of the net. Though Danis stopped his redirection Sylvester shot the rebound in from the side of the net.
"It was great work down low by Byron and Street," said Sylvester. "They turned the puck over there and Street has been pretty good at that lately, getting the puck off the far pad. I was in the right spot at the right time and had an open net."
The Barons scored on their lone power-play opportunity, just the second goal the Abbotsford penalty killing unit has allowed this season in 46 attempts. The Heat were 0 for 3 with the man advantage.
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