The Abbotsford Heat have been flying high atop the AHL standings for the better part of the season, but they seem to have a terrible time with the team at the bottom.
The Utica Comets, the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate, won their third straight head-to-head meeting with the Heat, knocking off the Abby squad 4-2 on Wednesday at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The Heat, in fairness, were missing leading scorer Ben Street (flu) and red-hot left winger Michael Ferland (lower body injury), but Sven Baertschi, recently reassigned to the AHL club by the Calgary Flames, made his debut.
Baertschi didn’t dent the scoresheet, though – he registered two shots on goal and a -1 rating.
The Comets, meanwhile, raced out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Kellan Lain and Patrick Mullen, resulting in Heat goalie Joni Ortio getting the hook for the first time this season. He was replaced by Joey MacDonald at the 16:16 mark of the first period.
Brett Olson drew the Heat to within a goal at 7:13 of the second, but Mullen notched his second of the game on a power play later in the frame.
Utica’s Alex Biega scored an empty-netter with 58 seconds remaining in the third, and Heat defenceman Brady Lamb rounded out the scoring with a late man-advantage marker. Comets goalie Joacim Eriksson picked up the win with a 26-save performance.
The Comets (9-15-2, 20 points) are still in last place overall despite the victory, while the Heat (20-8-2, 42 points) now find themselves dislodged from their first-place perch in both the Western Conference and AHL overall standings.
The Grand Rapids Griffins (20-5-2), one of their conference rivals, are tied with Abbotsford with 42 points, but the Griffins have three games in hand. The Eastern Conference-leading Manchester Monarchs (19-5-5, 43 points) are in first overall.
The Heat and Comets clash once again on Friday in Utica.