BRITISH COLUMBIA

Michael Ferland's first two pro goals lift Abbotsford past Toronto 4-3

11/10/2013 12:51 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Michael Ferland was a prolific scorer in junior and his first two professional goals came just in time for the Abbotsford Heat.

Ferland scored twice, including the third-period winner, as the Heat defeated the Toronto Marlies 4-3 in American Hockey League action Saturday.

The 21-year-old had not scored a point in his previous 18 AHL games but came through, scoring with six minutes to go and also capped off a three-goal two-minute frenzy at the end of the first.

"The success I had was from the physical play, using my body," said Ferland, who also had a fight in the second period. "I got a lot of energy off that. It felt good to get that first goal too, but it felt even better with all the boys congratulating me. I forgot how it felt like to score, so I was obviously glad to put those in."

Ferland recorded 211 points in 216 Western Hockey League games, but the 2010 fifth-round choice by the Calgary Flames failed to produce in his first few games with the Heat last year. This season he felt more comfortable.

"I was here half a year last year and as a first-year pro I wasn't used to it all," said Ferland. "I really feel like last year helped me out a lot, what to expect."

He played seven games for the Heat before being sent back to junior last year.

"He was basically a 20-year-old that was living like a 17-year-old," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "When you try to do that in this room and this environment, it becomes very difficult."

After taking a feed from Brett Olson, Ferland rushed down the left wing and buried a wrist shot short side on goalie Drew MacIntyre, breaking the 3-3 deadlock.

"You saw on his second goal that he's got a cannon," said Heat defenceman Dean Arsene, who was voted captain by his teammates Saturday morning.

"That's one of the things the coach has been trying to preach to him: shoot the puck, shoot the puck, and he's playing with (Ben) Street and (Blair) Jones, guys who are highly skilled and getting him the puck. He had a monster game, with a good fight that really got the guys energized."

Ferland's linemates Jones and Street had two assists apiece.

"With Max (Reinhart) being called up (to the Calgary Flames) I got an opportunity," said Ferland. "Troy's been really good with me, trying to find a way to get me going. It felt good playing with those two guys, real good players."

Paul Byron had a goal and an assist and Michael Granlund also scored for Abbotsford (10-4-1), who have now won six straight games and sit atop the Western Conference.

Joni Ortio made 24 saves extending his personal win streak to five games.

"We don't feel like we've played our best hockey yet and we're still getting wins so we want to keep pushing each other to keep playing," said Ferland.

Josh Leivo had a goal and an assist for the visiting Marlies (6-4-1). Petter Granberg and Stefan Legein also scored for Toronto and MacIntyre stopped 30 shots in the losing effort.

The Marlies opened the scoring at 3:33 of the first period. Leivo broke down the left wing and wristed a shot past Ortio for his second of the season.

The Heat temporarily took control of the game with three goals in the final three minutes of the first.

Granlund tied the game at 17:31 of the first. He took a feed from Chad Billins and wristed a shot from the face-off circle with Greg Nemisz providing traffic.

The Heat actually had a goal waved off when Granlund tried to glove a rebound down but it went in the net before he could get some wood on it.

At 18:39 Byron converted a rebound from a Street shot.

Then, at 19:28, Ferland took a feed from Street in front and put it around MacIntyre's pad.

However, the Marlies would cut the deficit in half just 35 seconds into the second period. Granberg converted a pass from Spencer Abbott, picking the corner, glove side, for his first of the season.

Legein tied the game with 89 seconds to play in the second. He took a pass from Trevor Smith and snapped a shot by Ortio for his third of the year in just his fifth game.

The Heat had the better chances in the third period, outshooting the Marlies 14-6, before Ferland finally put the Heat ahead for good with his late goal.

All six of Abbotsford's consecutive victories have been by one goal, including an overtime and two shootouts.

"Our resiliency is big for us," said Arsene. "Whether we go up a goal or down a goal. Those last six games haven't been the prettiest games to watch. We were able to stick with it and pull out these two points.

"So many times ... it can come down to a team can miss the playoffs by a point or two, looking back to the start of the year wishing you got those points you should have had."

The two clubs face each other again Sunday.