Alex Giroux scored late and Martin Gerber recorded 18 saves on the night to propel the Oklahoma City Barons to a well-earned 3-1 victory over the Abbotsford Heat Friday night in Calgary. FIRST PERIOD
The Barons started the game with an energetic pace that created a number of early scoring chances, including a mid-range slapshot attempt from Teemu Hartikainen
; all of which were turned aside by Heat goaltender Leland Irving.
That start, however, did generate the game's first power-play opportunity. After Milan Kytnar
collected the puck in the neutral zone, Abbotsford's Quintin Lang was assessed a tripping minor for hauling down the Barons forward. The visitors were unable to generate any shots on the opportunity and the game remained scoreless early in the opening frame.
After gaining some momentum from the resulting kill, the Heat began to press for the icebreaker. Former-Oiler Ryan Stone did just that, capitalizing on a turnover by defenceman Anthony Aiello and beating Martin Gerber far side to put Abbotsford up 1-0 at 11:17.
The Barons looked to respond in the latter portion of the period, but a pair of Irving saves late in the frame carried Abbotsford's 1-0 advantage into the intermission. After one period of play, Oklahoma City trailed on the scoreboard but held a slim 6-5 edge in shots. SECOND PERIOD
It only took 3:01 for the second period to see a rise in emotion. After dumping the puck deep into the Heat zone, Milan Kytnar
was charged with a cross-checking minor after unceremoniously dumping Abbotsford defenceman Chris Breen into the end-boards. The Heat blueliner showed no ill-effects, but a small melee erupted in the corner in which no further penalties were assessed.
As a result of the infraction, Abbotsford was sent to its first power-play opportunity of the night. Following a pair of unsuccessful shot attempts, the game returned to five-on-five play.
Shortly thereafter, Heat forward Gaelan Patterson was sent in alone on a breakaway. Gerber stood tall, holding his ground and making a brilliant glove save to maintain the one-goal deficit.
Gerber's early-period heroics appeared to inspire his Barons club. Only moments after the previous save, Jake Taylor and Mark Arcobello
combined to bring the game on even terms. Taylor fed a pass across to a streaking Arcobello who released a quick snapshot under the bar to register his first of the season with Oklahoma City.
At the midway point of the second period, Abbotsford held a 15-9 advantage on the shot clock as the two teams remained tied at one.
With 6:37 remaining in the middle frame, the Barons were penalized with their second cross-checking minor of the period. Chris Vande Velde was charged with the infraction and Abbotsford was sent back to the power-play. Much like their previous attempts with the man-advantage, no shots and no chances were generated and the 1-1 stalemate continued.
Oklahoma City's penalty trouble carried late into the period, with an interference minor being assessed to Gregory Stewart at 17:19. Late in the man-advantage opportunity, Abbotsford nearly gained the edge on the scoreboard as Chris Breen beat Martin Gerber with a laser wrist-shot, but was denied by the near goal-post.
After two periods of play, the Barons and Heat were tied 1-1. The home side continued to lead on the shot clock with a 16-13 edge after 40 minutes. THIRD PERIOD
Early in the third, the cross-checking tides turned. Abbotsford's Joe Piskula sent Ben Ondrus head-first into the boards, resulting in the Barons' second power-play opportunity of the evening. Only a single shot was recorded on the man-advantage, which was easily turned aside by Leland Irving.
Midway through the third period, Heat forward Gord Baldwin was charged with a high-sticking minor, sending Oklahoma City to its second power-play opportunity of the period. Like the previous two attempts for the visitors, no goals were scored and the 1-1 score carried passed the 11-minute mark.
Moments later, Martin Gerber came up with a tremendous save to preserve the 1-1 score. With speed across the line, Quintin Laing centred to Jon Rheault, but an outstretched Gerber came up with a slick pad save courtesy of a strong post-to-post maneuver.
WIth only 1:06 to play, a determined counter-attack by the Barons set the stage for the go-ahead goal. Colin McDonald rushed down the wing with speed, before centering a pass to Alex Giroux in the slot. The veteran forward sniped a one-timer top corner, putting the Barons ahead 2-1 late in the game.
An empty net goal by Chris Vande Velde in the final minute would seal a 3-1 victory for the visitors.