The Rochester Americans scored five unanswered goals to dump the Abbotsford Heat 8-4 in Game 3 of their best-of-seven North Division American Hockey League semifinal game at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre Monday.
Monday's game marked the first-ever AHL playoff contest in Abbotsford. The two teams split the first two games in Rochester. The Heat opened the series with a 2-1 win and the Americans came back with a 4-1 victory in Game 2.Mikael Backlund
opened scoring for the Heat 1:44 into the first period, when he picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it stick-side past Tyler Plante in the Rochester goal. The power play marker was the first goal for Backlund in the opening round series. Backlund returned to the Heat earlier this month after the Calgary Flames were eliminated from playoff contention.
Heat forward Jon Rheault scored his first goal of the playoffs at 17:56 of the first period to give the Heat a 2-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Americans stormed back and scored with 1:03 remaining in the first period to make it a 2-1 game. It was American defender Clay Wilson
's first goal of the playoffs.
The Heat outplayed the Americans in the first and out-shot their North Division opponent 13-7 in he opening frame.
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The Americans came out in the second and evened the score 2-2 when Shawn Matthias found himself alone in front of the Heat goal and picked up a Mike York feed from behind the net and fired the puck behind Shantz at 8:03 of middle period.
The Americans struck again, this time on the power play, at 10:01 of the second when Jordan Henry
was left by himself at the side f the Heat goal. The puck squirted on to the stick of the Rochester forward and he quickly potted it behind Shantz to give the Americans its first lead of the game, 3-2.
The Americans added to their lead at 13:56 of the second when Wilson notched his second goal of the game, finishing off a pretty two-on-one passing play with Matthias. This goal chased Heat starting goalie David Shantz and Leland Irving
The Americans scored their fourth unanswered goal of the period when Graham Mink beat Irving with seven seconds left in second period.
The Heat came out hard in the third period and closed the gap to 5-3 when Brett Sutter scored his first goal of the playoffs at 3:32 of the third. Sutter scooped in a loose rebound off a point shot.
Rochester went ahead 6-3 on a Matthias breakaway goal at 6:04 of the third. Mink scored his second of the game at 7:47 of the third to give the Americans a 7-3 lead. That goal was followed up by a Keaton Ellerby marker 22 seconds later and the Americans held a commanding 8-3 lead. The goal spelled the end for Irving, who was removed from the net and replaced by Shantz.
Brett Sutter scored late for the Heat to make the final 8-4.
"That's what we have to do more of, putting pucks in the net," Brett Sutter simply put after the loss. "I think we had three guys around the net and I was lucky enough to tap one in. I think we could all be a little better, I'm just as guilty. I wasn't as good as I should have been tonight. I was on for too many goals against and that's not my identity."
The Americans now take a 2-1 series lead. The same two teams face off at 7 p.m. PST Wednesday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.The Heat will look to pull the series even at 2-2 when they host Game 4 on Wednesday night.
You can catch all the HEAT HOCKEY action on Country 107.1 FM. Dave Sheldon will have the call of all the action, beginning with the HONDA WAY pregame show at 6:50 pm PST.