ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Greg Nemisz scored the game winner as the Abbotsford Heat edged the Rockford IceHogs 4-3 to win their home opener Friday night in American Hockey League action.
Forty-four seconds after Jon Rheault tied things 3-3, Nemisz re-directed a Dustin Sylvester feed past IceHogs starter Alec Richards for his second goal of the season, and the Heat?s lone lead of the game.
The win improved Abbotsford to 3-0-0 on the season and was also the Heat?s first home opening win in franchise history.
?It was great for the organization to get that monkey off our back,? said Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward. ?It?s tough to win a home opener and it?s something we battled through.?
Rheault walked around Rockford defenceman Ryan Stanton and beat Richards top shelf, glove side 1:01 into the final frame.
?It?s the first time all year I?ve talked in between periods,? said Ward in regards to his team?s quick start in the third. ?I just talked to them on spending time and energy on things they could control and I didn?t think they did that very well in the second period.?
Rockford (2-1-0) beat Heat starter Leland Irving three times on five shots in the opening frame to take a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes.
Jeremy Morin opened the scoring at 5:09 of the first, beating the Abbotsford goaltender between the pads for his first goal in nearly nine months. It was Morin???s first game back since suffering a serious concussion on Jan. 15.
???It felt good to get back in the line up, it???s been a long time since I???ve go the opportunity to do that,??? said Morin. "I was really excited, (the concussion) was something I???ve never gone through before.???
Kelowna, B.C., native Kyle Beach made it 2-0 with a slap shot for his third of the season.
With just 36 seconds remaining in the period, Brandon Pirri gave the IceHogs a 3-1 lead with a power-play goal.
Fifteen seconds later Byron got Abbotsford to within one beating Richards for his second of the season.
Ben Walter had Abbotsford???s first of the night by one-timing a Nemisz feed past Richards.
Lance Bouma had the Heat???s best scoring chance of a scoreless second period when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway by defenceman Ryan Stanton at 11:21.
???We knew they were going to come out hard being their home opener,??? said Morin. ???We didn???t get the containment we needed early (in the third), they took it to us and it cost us.???
Abbotsford finished the night 0-for-1 with the man advantage while Rockford connected on one of five opportunities.
Richards made 25 saves in his first loss of the season while Irving turned aside 26 shots for his third consecutive victory.