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Marlies See Winning Streak End in Loss to Abbotsford on Friday

Danny Taylor makes 22 saves for the shutout as Heat blank Marlies 3-0

Canadian Press
April 13, 2012

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TORONTO MARLIES (0) -AT- ABBOTSFORD HEAT (3)


ABBOTSFORD, B.C. _ The Abbotsford Heat are red hot with the playoffs right around the corner.

Danny Taylor made 22 saves Friday for his team-high fifth shutout as the Heat defeated the Toronto Marlies 3-0 in American Hockey League action Friday night.

The Heat have rattled-off six consecutive wins and are 9-1-2 in their past 12.

With the win the Heat clinched home ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs but with one game remaining Sunday versus Toronto, Abbotsford still has a couple things left to accomplish.

``Coming into the playoffs on a roll is what we want so I don't think we're going to take the foot off the gas,'' said forward Hugh Jessiman.

``We'll manage some of our top players accordingly,'' added Heat head coach Troy Ward. ``We've got a lot of black aces and we'd like to get some players in but at the same time we've got good momentum going and want to keep that.''

Toronto, which had its six-game winning streak ended, has already clinched the North Division title but is in a battle with the Oklahoma City Barons for first in the Western Conference. They will likely be resting players in preparation for the post-season, however.

``Would we like first in our conference? Sure,'' said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins. ``But I'm not killing our guys trying to get it. We need to be prepared for the playoffs. I'm still auditioning people for who is going to be in the starting line up in the playoffs. We've got some guys banged up. You might see some more fresh faces in our lineup just to fill some holes with our injuries.''

If Toronto finishes second and Abbotsford fourth it is not improbable that a second-round playoff match-up between the teams could happen.

``I don't think we look too much into the future but you can't deny there's a possibility we might see them down the road,'' Jessiman said. ``We're focused on the here and now but any time you play a team that's ranked a little higher than you, you want to send a message.''

The other chore for the Heat will be to get their number one goalie back into action, though their ``option 1-B'' has been lights-out of late.

Taylor has made five consecutive starts for Abbotsford, allowing just six goals over that span and just 10 goals over his last eight games played.

Top goalie Leland Irving has been on the sidelines during the birth of his first child but is ready to get back at it.

``We celebrated and helped Leland through his family time and now it's time to get him back in there as a hockey player,'' Ward said. ``We'll manage him back into there and he deserves it.''

Taylor was relatively humble about the chance to thrive while Irving was changing diapers for the first time.

``I've been pretty fortunate to get the starts that I have,'' Taylor said. ``Our team's playing so well right now and has been for the last few weeks. The team's got confidence in both of us. We've both put up a lot of wins this year. The guys know if they play a solid game, we're going to win.''

Jessiman had a goal and an assist, while Jon Rheault and Clay Wilson added third-period goals in the third for Abbotsford (41-26-8).

Ben Scrivens stopped 20 of 22 shots for Toronto (44-24-7).

``That was the one thing entertaining about the game - both goalies were excellent,'' Eakins said. ``Early in the first period (Scrivens) was excellent. He made a huge save in the second for us. When we had our 'A' chances, their goalie as there to show Scrivens that he can stop the puck too.''

Seven minutes into the game Heat captain Quintin Laing hit Will Acton hard into the boards. After a scrum Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, not Laing, was sent to serve a five-minute major penalty for boarding.

Toronto failed to score on the extended power play, and the best chance was actually a short-handed two-on-one for Abbotsford in which Scrivens had to break up a give-and-go.

Toronto, the AHL's worst power play, then failed on another man advantage, giving Abbotsford all the momentum.

``I thought the guys in front of me did a great job on the PK,'' Taylor said. ``They didn't really get much, and what they did, I saw. On a PK that's what you hope for.''

The Heat needed just one goal, coming in the first period on Jessiman's solo effort at 16:29. He swooped behind the Marlies' net and stole the puck from Acton before scoring on the wrap around.

``I was just forechecking,'' Jessiman said. ``I think I caught the guy by surprise behind the net, managed to get a little body on him and used the reach around on the far side.''

Taylor's flashiest save was when he robbed Marlies' captain Ryan Hamilton in the third period when he stretched out to snag a rising slap shot headed for the top corner to protect his clean sheet.

With just over five minutes to go in the game Rheault gave the Heat some insurance. Ben Walter cut to the slot and backhanded a shot towards the net, that Rheault redirected for his 16th of the season.

Wilson added an empty net goal.


NOTES: Abbotsford's Krys Kolanos, the recently named player of the week and player of the month, had his seven-game goal scoring streak snapped, in which he had 11 goals and seven assists.

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