ABBOTSFORD, BC -- The Abbotsford Heat are moving on to the second round of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs after a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The victory gives the franchise their first ever series-sweep and is the first series ever won on home ice in the club’s three-year history. The win was the Heat’s tenth straight – including seven regular season tilts – and increases their run to 12 games without a loss in regulation.
The Heat await the conclusion of the Chicago Wolves and San Antonio Rampage best-of-five to see who they will face in the second round. Should the Wolves win, the Heat will face the Oklahoma City Barons; the Rampage winning would see a best-of-seven match-up with the Toronto Marlies. The Heat have now advanced to the second round in both post-season visits in franchise history.
The Heat opened the scoring at 2:10 of the first period where Hugh Jessiman potted his first goal of the post-season just a second after the game’s first power play expired. Greg Nemisz and Clay Wilson drew the assists on the goal as Wilson’s blast from the top of the right circle was stopped, but Nemisz pushed the rebound towards the Admirals net that deflected in off of Jessiman at the crease giving the Heat had the lead.
The home team would extend their lead to two goals at 6:18 of the second period when Clay Wilson ripped a perfect Krys Kolanos pass into the back of the Milwaukee net on the power play. Roman Horak entered the offensive zone on the right side and moved the puck to Kolanos behind the net, where he picked out Wilson charging in from the left point.
The Admirals would even the game at two goals apiece late in the second period after scoring a pair of their own on the man-advantage, and the game was tied at the second intermission with the Admirals season on the brink.
At 8:37 of the third period, Dustin Sylvester’s second goal of the playoffs gave the Heat a lead they would not relinquish. The Heat’s top rookie of the regular season carried the puck into the Admirals end where he stopped on the right wall, and cut to the middle where he ripped in a high blocker shot, that brought the crowd of 3,406 to their feet. Krys Kolanos and Ben Walter drew helpers on the strike.
With an empty net behind the Admirals, the Heat would add an insurance marker as Clay Wilson sunk his second goal of the night in the back of the net from centre ice. Wilson finished the game with two goals and an assist while wearing the captain’s ‘C’ with Quintin Laing listed as ‘day-to-day’ with an injury.
Analyzing Wilson’s play during the series-clinching game head coach Troy G. Ward said, “Clay has been stellar for us all year and his performance tonight was not shocking to me or his teammates. It’s what we have come to expect of him.”
Danny Taylor made 26 saves on 28 shots and allowed just a pair of goals for the third straight game, while the Heat put 32 shots on the Admirals net. Taylor has now won eight games in a row and has started all three playoff games for the Heat.
The Heat power play finished the night with two goals on seven attempts, and the first goal of the game came just a second after a power play expired. The penalty kill surrendered two goals on three Milwaukee man-advantages.
The Calder Cup Playoffs sees Rounds 2 through 4 utilize a best-of-seven format. The top seeded Oklahoma City Barons and second seeded Toronto Marlies have both qualified for the Western Conference Semifinals with wins over the Houston Aeros and Rochester Americans respectively. The Chicago Wolves and San Antonio Rampage are tied a two wins apiece with Game 5 set for Friday night in Chicago.
The second round will see the Heat begin on the road for a pair, as the series will run on a two-three-two format that will see Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre host Games 3, 4 & *5 (*if necessary). Following Friday’s Game 5 in Chicago between the Wolves and the Rampage, the Heat will announce scheduling for the second round of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs.