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Grand Rapids Griffins eliminate Abbotsford Heat from playoffs with 5-3 win

Saturday, 05.03.2014 / 12:15 AM / News

The Canadian Press

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Grand Rapids Griffins eliminate Abbotsford Heat from playoffs with 5-3 win

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Abbotsford Heat are no more.

Grand Rapids captain Jeff Hoggan scored twice as the Griffins edged the Heat 5-3 on Friday to advance to the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs.

It was the final game for the Calgary Flames' affiliate, which will leave Abbotsford, B.C., for a new home ahead of next season.

Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward was reflective after his team's elimination.

"It was a good year of development for our franchise," Ward said. "Do you want to finish tonight? No. But at the same time you have to develop hockey players and we're glad we did that."

Teemu Pulkkinen had a goal and an assist, and Riley Sheahan and Landon Ferraro also scored for the Griffins, who won the best-of-five series 3-1. Petr Mrazek stopped 24 shots in net.

Markus Granlund had a goal and an assist for the Heat. Shane O'Brien and Kane Lafranchise also scored and Joni Ortio finished with 31 saves.

"We had some good looks the whole game. That's kind of the way the whole series has gone," Ward said. "It's close most games and our looks didn't turn into goals and some of their looks turned into goals."

The Heat took an early lead on a power-play goal from O'Brien, who flew past Mrazek at 14:21 of the first period.

After a subpar first period, Grand Rapids regrouped and dominated the second period, scoring three goals and outshooting the Heat 18-6.

"We just said we had to pick it up," Hoggan said. "We knew it wasn't our best period and we got a lot of poise in here and have been in these situations. Just quietly said let's go. Coach came in, we addressed a few things and got back to work."

The Griffins came back at 7:26 of the second period when Pulkkinen fired a power-play slapshot from the left of the net to beat Ortio.

McIntyre lost control of the puck in front of an open net two minutes later, and passed it to his right as Ortio righted himself. The puck found Hoggan, who tipped it into the open net to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead.

Abbotsford replied when forward Max Reinhart passed the puck across the ice and found Lafranchise, who weaved his way around Mrazek and backhanded the puck in to tie the game at 13:16 of the second.

Hoggan struck again with 33 seconds left in the second as Griffins forward Cory Emmerton sent in a pass from the corner boards. The puck bounced around until it hit Hoggan and found its way into the net.

The goal from Hoggan changed the outlook of the game, Ward said. The Griffins hadn't lost after heading into the third period with the lead until Wednesday's game. Ward hoped the game would go into the locker-room 2-2.

"The good news was it was tied 2-2 near the end of the second and we made a boo-boo late," he said. "We go into the locker-rooms 2-2, they're even with us and they're nervous because we win a lot of road games. But 3-2 and they carry a different posture."

Sheahan added a fourth goal for the Griffins 4:51 into the third, collecting a rebound and shooting the puck past a recovering Ortio.

A minute later, a penalty on Griffin Ryan Sproul gave Abbotsford its fourth power play of the night and Granlund found the top corner of the net just seconds into the man-advantage to bring the Heat to within one.

The Heat had several great chances to score late in the third period, including a short-handed breakaway chance by Granlund.

"We had two basically open nets tonight and they didn't find the back of the net," Ward said. "We just didn't find the way to the back of the net."

Ferraro added an empty-net goal with 13.4 seconds left in the game.

Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp