Heat Drop the 'Dogs, 3-2
HAMILTON ON - The Abbotsford Heat picked up right where they left off....timely goal scoring, excellent goaltending and rock-solid defence led the Abbotsford Heat to a 3-2 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game One of the AHL North Division Final, Thursday night in the Steel City.
After a scoreless opening period, the Heat would strike first. After fighting for the puck deep in Hamilton territory, Heat forward Mikael Backlund would swoop in and steal the puck from the scrum. Backlund would then pinpoint a pass from the right faceoff dot deep in Bulldog territory to the left point, finding a wide open Mark Mitera. Mitera would read the play well, faking the shot and slap-passing the puck to a streaking David Van der Gulik. The Abbotsford product would tip the pass in from deep in the slot, over the shoulder and under the crossbar past Hamilton goalie Cedric Desjardins to give the Heat a 1-0 lead at the 9:40 mark of the second period.
Exactly three minutes later, the Dogs would equalize. David Desharnais would intercept a Heat dump in and turn the puck the other way into a two on one break with Aaron Palushaj. A perfect pass to Palushaj allowed the Hamilton forward to beat a helpless David Shantz high under the Heat crossbar to tie the game at one. For Palushaj, it would be his 1st goal of the post season.
However, the Heat would answer back on the very next shift. Gord Baldwin would be the beneficiary of a great read by rookie Heat forward Mitch Wahl. Wahl would pick off an errant clearing attempt by Hamilton and spot Baldwin on the far side of the ice. Baldwin would take the pass, step in and drill a slap shot past a screened Desjardins to restore the Heat lead 2-1. While John Lammers did not draw an assist on the play, the Langley boy did a great job in giving the Dog goalie nothing to look at on the shot. Baldwin's goal at 13:12 of the second would give the Heat a 2-1 lead after two.
Gord Baldwin liked his team in game one. "We worked hard for it and knew what to expect. Hamilton is a good team and they are going to make us work for everything."
In the third, the Heat would add to their lead with a familiar combo in these playoffs. After a promising rush by Heat d-man Matt Pelech, Heat forward Jon Rheault would find himself a loose puck deep in Dog territory. A shot on goal produced a juicy rebound for Heat playoff scoring leader Brett Sutter. Sutter would slide home a backhand to give his team a two goal cushion early in period three. For Sutter, it was his third goal of the post season and also his team leading ninth point of these Calder Cup Playoffs.
Sutter: "Our line continues to keep it simple and play our game. Rosey (Rheault) did a great job at getting the puck on goal and I was able to bang it home."
A late goal in the final minute by Brock Trotter made the final score 3-2 and the Heat would open on the road with the victory.
"While we didn't play our best game of the playoffs tonight, our team was able to do what was important to get the win," stated Head Coach Jim Playfair after the game. "We were able to identify what Hamilton was doing and our defence did an excellent job for the most part in making the right read and getting the puck out of harm's way."
NORTH DIVISION FINAL - ABBOTSFORD HEAT VS HAMILTON BULLDOGS (MONTREAL CANADIENS)
Game One - Thursday, April 29th - Abbotsford 3 @ Hamilton 2 (Brett Sutter - GWG)
Game Two - Sunday, May 2nd - Abbotsford @ Hamilton - 11:00 AM PDT
Game Three - Tuesday, May 4th - Hamilton @ Abbotsford - 7 PM PDT
Game Four - Thursday, May 6th - Hamilton @ Abbotsford - 7 PM PDT
*Game Five - Saturday, May 8th - Hamilton @ Abbotsford - 7 PM PDT
*Game Six - Monday, May 10th - Abbotsford @ Hamilton - 7:30 PM PDT
*Game Seven - Tuesday, May 11th - Abbotsford @ Hamilton - 7:30 PM PDT
THE ABBOTSFORD HEAT IS IN TO THE NORTH DIVISION FINAL AND TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FOR ALL HEAT HOME GAMES BY CALLING 1-877-452-HEAT. YOU CAN ALSO VISIT www.abbotsfordheat.com FOR ALL OF YOUR TICKETING NEEDS.
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