BRITISH COLUMBIA

Heat match franchise-best win streak by defeating the Marlies

11/10/2013 10:03 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Seven wins in a row, and the Abbotsford Heat are still looking for ways to improve.

The Heat defeated the Toronto Marlies 6-3 Sunday night in American Hockey League action, which ties a franchise record for consecutive victories.

The streak has included overtime, shootouts, comebacks, and on Sunday, a blown lead in the third period.

"We look back at each game and know where we haven't done so well in certain areas, and known that we've been lucky to win some in this streak as well," said Brett Olson, who scored the winning goal. "We're happy with where we're at. But we've just got to keep it all in perspective and learn from each game, and maintain that confidence that when we get in tight situations like this, that we can win."

After the Marlies rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the game 3-3 in the third Olson converted a pass from Knight off a Tyler Wotherspoon rush while playing four-on-four at 12:21 of the third period.

"Spooner made an unbelievable rush," said Olson of the rookie defenceman Wotherspoon. "He bought time and basically sucked the guy in and was able to kick it out to Knight. Knight fed it through a nice little hole, and I didn't have to do much, to be honest with you. It was right on my tape, and I just had to put it in the open net."

It was just the second goal of the year for Olson but a coach's hunch matched him with the Heat's leading scorer on that shift.

"The big things is, they can get up and down the rink together and they both can share the puck pretty well," said Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward. "They've had some chemistry so it was kind of a gut feeling."

Knight added a goal and Michael Ferland also had a goal and an assist for the Heat (11-4-1), while Chad Billins, Ben Street and Markus Granlund scored the others.

"That was like a playoff-atmosphere game, for the most part," said Olson. "There were a lot of hits, there was a lot of hard work to the net, a lot of puck battles on the walls, just great plays overall."

Joey MacDonald made 24 saves for Abbotsford and his most important may have been with four minutes to go when he came across to glove a T.J. Brennan slap shot, a quality save even the Toronto defenceman had to acknowledge with a stick tap.

Josh Leivo, Trevor Smith and Jerry D'Amigo scored for the Marlies (6-5-1) while Spencer Abbott chipped in with two assists to extend his point streak to 11 games.

Garret Sparks stopped 24 shots for Toronto.

Leivo opened the scoring for the Marlies at 8:09 when he took a pass at full speed from Abbott and made a move around a defenceman to beat MacDonald through the five-hole.

The Heat tied the game at 17:46 when Greg Nemisz blazed down the right wing and threw a puck to the net. Sparks couldn't corral it and, with Nemisz in the crease, Billins raced in to wrist it past the Marlies' netminder for his team-leading sixth goal of the season.

The Heat took the lead at 5:02 when Street converted a two-on-one rush with Ferland and Knight made it 3-1 two minutes and 31 seconds later. Ben Hanowski fed the puck to Knight in the high slot as Olson went to the net to provide traffic and Knight placed a hard wrist shot from the top of the circle past Sparks.

Toronto cut into the deficit while on a five-on-three power play. Abbott found Smith open at the side of the net and the Marlies' captain one-timed it past MacDonald at 11:49.

The Marlies tied the game at 6:10 of the third period when D'Amigo put one past MacDonald. After blocking a shot at his own blue line, Sam Carrick rushed down the ice and tried to centre for David Broll. The puck found its way to D'Amigo at the side of the net with MacDonald sprawled.

"They pushed pretty hard and we took a lot of penalties in a row," said Ward. "They scored a nice five-on-three goal. We seemed to be a little bit on edge. They're a good hockey team. We would expect that from them. It's 3-1 and with a couple of mistakes it's 3-3."

Despite giving up a two-goal cushion, the team didn't get flustered, going on to score three more times, including a penalty shot by Granlund and an empty netter by Ferland.

The Heat now head on their longest road trip of the season.

"It's going to be a long one," said Billins. "But you know, it's fun too. It's a good time to really build up the team bonding. It's going to be a battle, but you've just got to take it one game at a time. We've got to pull off some wins here."