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Abbotsford downs Utica, Connolly snaps Heat's losing streak with first AHL goal

Saturday, 03.15.2014 / 12:55 AM The Canadian Press

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Brendan Connolly scored his first career American Hockey League goal, and Olivier Roy made 27 saves to snap the Abbotsford Heat's eight-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Utica Comets on Friday.

Josh Jooris and Derek Smith also scored for Abbotsford (34-21-7).

Joacim Eriksson made 32 stops for the visiting Comets (26-27-7), while Alex Grenier scored their only goal.

Roy had struggled of late, being pulled in three of his last five starts, and allowing 18 goals in that stretch.

The Heat opened the scoring on the power play at 12:25, with Jooris redirecting Max Reinhart's centring feed on his backhand.

Abbotsford dominated the second period, but Eriksson did his best to keep the Comets in the game. Turner Elson drove past a defender while shorthanded midway through the frame, and cut to the front of the net, but Eriksson stayed with him and shut the five-hole in time to keep the Comets within a goal.

Eriksson reached across to rob Reinhart on the power play with less than seven minutes to go in the second. The Comets goaltender robbed Brett Olson at the doorstep on another power play before finally succumbing to the Heat pressure in the final seconds.

Eriksson kicked out Corey Locke's rebound attempt into the slot, but Connolly stepped into a slap shot that beat the netminder's outstretched arm with just 12 seconds to go in the period.

Roy was largely untested through two periods but made a few big saves in the final frame.

David Marshall redirected Alex Friesen's shot, but Roy kicked it away four minutes into the third. Then, on a penalty kill, Roy was solid again, including a big save off Colin Stuart in the slot.

The Comets finally got to the 22-year-old netminder at 8:33. Roy stoned Grenier on a backdoor one-timer but the Utica right winger chipped it over the goalie, backing it off a Heat player and in, for his 16th of the year.

The Comets had a short power play in the final two minutes but couldn't complete the comeback.

Smith added an empty netter with 28 seconds to play.

Both teams finished 1 for 7 with the man advantage.

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