A pair of unlikely sources helped the Abbotsford Heat ignite their stagnant offence on Saturday.
Akim Aliu and Carter Bancks, known more for their grit and physical play than their scoring ability, each notched a goal and an assist as the Heat beat the Toronto Marlies 4-2 on the road. They also earned first and second star honours, respectively.
Tyler Ruegsegger snapped the team-wide dry spell with a goal at 13:29 of the first period, ending the scoreless streak at 164:11. The marker tied the game 1-1, Marlies forward Greg Scott having opened the scoring just over three minutes earlier.
Blair Jones would give Abbotsford the lead with his first goal as a member of the Heat, striking on the power play at 7:05 of the second.
Tallies by Aliu and Bancks, each assisting on the other’s goal, would make it 4-1 for the visitors.
Toronto’s Joe Colborne scored in the final minute of regulation to round out the scoring.
Danny Taylor picked up his first victory since being reassigned to the Heat on Wednesday, making 16 saves, while Drew MacIntyre took the loss for Toronto.
The win, coming on the heels of a 10-losses-in-11-games stretch for Abbotsford, boosted the Heat back into nominal playoff position. They sit eighth in the Western Conference at 28-25-8 for 64 points, but most of the teams chasing them have multiple games in hand.
The Heat are back in action on Sunday, as they head to Rochester for a rematch with the Americans.