Just call the Abbotsford Heat the Cardiac Kids.
The local AHL club has exhibited a flair for the dramatic all season long, and they showcased it once again during a Wednesday morning road game vs. the Rockford IceHogs.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, the Heat rallied to knot the score and then secured a 4-3 victory on Markus Granlund’s power-play goal at 3:40 of overtime.
It marked the seventh time this season that Abbotsford has rallied to win after trailing in the third period – a remarkable stat which seems to be borne of the team’s talented-but-youthful composition, with respect to the digging of deficits followed by enthusiastic comebacks.
The Heat got tremendous performances from several players, most notably defenceman Chad Billins. The AHL all-star registered three points (one goal, two assists), including the game-tying goal with 6:04 remaining in the third period, and the primary assist on Granlund’s game-winner.
Evan Trupp, making his AHL debut on Wednesday after being summoned from the ECHL’s Alaska Aces earlier in the week, celebrated his career milestone with a third-period goal, and Mark Cundari’s power-play marker in the middle frame was his second goal in three games. Heat centre Corban Knight, a former teammate of Trupp’s at the University of North Dakota, notched two assists.
Joey MacDonald picked up the win between the pipes, turning aside 32 of 35 shots, while his Rockford counterpart Jason LaBarbera stopped 29 of 33.
Both teams found success with the man advantage – the Heat went 2-for-3, while the IceHogs were 2-for-4. The penalty kill continues to be a sore spot for Abbotsford, which sits 28th in the league (75.6 per cent) in that department.
The victory enabled the Heat (25-13-2, 52 points) to leapfrog the Texas Stars (23-10-5, 51 points) for first place in the West Division, though the Stars have two games in hand.
Abbotsford wraps up its six-game road trip with a Friday-Saturday set at the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Detroit Red Wings affiliate won the Calder Cup last season, and they lead the Western Conference with with a 25-10-3 record and boast the second-stingiest defence (2.34 goals against per game) in the AHL.