ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Martin St. Pierre had a goal and two assists as the Rockford IceHogs defeated the Abbotsford Heat 5-2 in American Hockey League action Friday.
Rostislav Olesz had a goal and an assist in this first game of the season with the IceHogs, while Steve Montador, Brandon Svendsen and Brad Mills also scored for Rockford (33-28-2), who leapfrogged Abbotsford for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
Rockford has now won 11 of its last 14 games.
Henrik Karlsson made 33 saves against Abbotsford, who he played four games for last season.
Barry Brust made just eight saves before getting the hook in the second period in favour of Danny Taylor, who made 13 stops in relief.
Rockford opened the scoring at 7:23 of the first. Svendsen made it look like he was going to split the defence but then wired a shot from the slot that beat Brust blocker side.
It looked like the Heat were going to tie the game up a few minutes later. Sven Baertschi's shot from the slot was stopped by Karlsson but with the netminder out of position for the rebound, it was defenceman Montador that blocked Baertschi's rebound attempt, keeping the IceHogs up 1-0.
The IceHogs went up 2-0 with just 10 seconds remaining in the first period. Ben Smith took a pass from the corner and fed it to St. Pierre down low. St. Pierre threw the puck over to Rostislav Olesz but the Czech winger kicked it back to Pierre, who fired the puck into an open net for his 21st of the season.
Rockford chased Brust from the net at 2:11 of the second period, scoring on the game's first power play. Montador one-timed a feed from St. Pierre, beating Brust top shelf. It was his first goal since joining Rockford on March 12 on loan from the Blackhawks.
Nearing the game's midway mark Ben Street had the first quality opportunities to get the Heat on the board but Karlsson got across to stymie not one, but two one-timer attempts at the side of the net.
Then, while still on the power play, Street was forced to haul down Mills on a short-handed breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot at 9:22.
Mills quickly beat Taylor blocker side with a nifty deke to his backhand, giving him three goals on the year.
Bancks got the home team on the board with a short-handed goal of his own. After missing the net on a breakaway on the same shift, Bancks took advantage of Dylan Olsen's broken stick and raced away on Karlsson, beating him glove side for his fourth of the season.
Nemisz deflected Joe Callahan's point shot with just 35.6 seconds left in the second period to draw the Heat to within two.
The comeback attempt was squashed when Olesz buried a rebound into an open net at 14:02 of the third.
Notes: St. Pierre's assist on Montador's goal made him the all-time leader in power-play assists in franchise history.