The Grand Rapids Griffins got the best of the Abbotsford Heat in a battle of division leaders on Friday evening, cruising to a 5-1 win at Van Andel Arena.
Riley Sheahan scored twice to pace the Griffins’ offence, and goalie Petr Mrazek kept the Heat off the board until Nick Tuzzolino spoiled his shutout bid with 3:12 remaining in the third period.
Mrazek’s counterpart in the Abby cage, Barry Brust, got the hook for the first time this season after allowing two goals late in the second period. Danny Taylor, his replacement, also surrendered two goals – both on the power play – as Grand Rapids built a 4-0 lead before Tuzzolino finally got the Heat on the board.
Joakim Andersson, Francis Pare and Gustav Nyquist – into an empty net – also scored for the Midwest Division-leading Griffins (15-9-2, 32 points).
The Heat (15-7-6, 36 points) lead the North Division, but December has been utterly forgettable. Abbotsford has lost seven of nine games in the month, and has mustered just 10 goals in that span.
The Christmas break can’t come fast enough for the Heat, but they have one more game – Saturday at the Rockford IceHogs – before dispersing for a four-day holiday.
• Heat captain Quintin Laing will also wear the ‘C’ at the AHL All-Star Classic. League president David Andrews selected Laing as captain of the Western Conference all-star team on Friday. Trent Whitfield of the Providence Bruins will captain the Eastern Conference all-stars. The event runs Jan. 27-28 in Providence, R.I.
• Heat defenceman T.J. Brodie emerged with the most unsightly stat line vs. the Griffins, posting a -3 rating.
Heat forward Roman Horak tries to break out of his own zone against the forecheck of Landon Ferraro of the Grand Rapids Griffins.