ABBOTSFORD, BC – The Abbotsford Heat’s season has come to an end at the hands of the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs) in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. A power play goal in overtime closed the book on a banner third season of AHL Hockey in the Fraser Valley, and advanced the Marlies to the Conference Finals.
The Heat jumped out to a two-goal lead in the game in the first period on a pair of odd numbered situations. Just 3:30 into the game, Jon Rheault and Paul Byron combined to intercept a puck on the Marlies first power play and headed up ice short-handed. Rheault slid Byron the puck to send the centre on a breakaway he would convert to put the home team ahead 1-0.
At 13:30 of the opening period, Krys Kolanos would score with a delayed penalty on the way to the Marlies and an extra attacker on the ice for Heat puck-stopper Danny Taylor. Greg Nemisz gained the line and slid the puck to Adam Estoclet, his shot was stopped but Kolanos pounced on the rebound to put the Heat up 2-0.
The Marlies would strike just 62 seconds later on a seeing-eye point shot that found its way through a maze of bodies in front of the net. The Marlies shrunk the deficit to 2-1 at 14:32 of the first period.
Late in the second period, the Heat would see the Marlies draw even with a power play goal at the 18:00 minute mark. After stopping the original shot, Danny Taylor had the puck squeeze though him where it lay in the crease behind him, the Marlies alertly swept it into the net to tie the game.
A scoreless third period resulted in the franchise’s first ever overtime playoff game, where a power play awarded to the Marlies proved to be the catalyst for the final goal of their season. A long wrist shot from the point was stopped but the rebound was converted to end the Heat’s season.
Danny Taylor made 33 saves on 36 shots in the loss, including a breath-taking stop in overtime that brought the crowd to a roar and kept the game alive. The Heat were outshot 36-31 in the game by the Marlies.
The Heat got their first special teams goal of the series in Game 5, and it came on the penalty kill that finished three for five on the night. The Heat power play threatened but didn’t score on three attempts over the course of the game.
The club will have exit meetings with players over the coming days before turning attention to the off-season and building the 2012-13 team.