BRITISH COLUMBIA

Worst beats first: Lowly Utica Comets shock league-leading Abbotsford Heat 3-2

11/30/2013 12:50 EST | Updated 01/29/2014 05:59 EST
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - The last-place Utica Comets will string some more wins together if they can keep getting lucky bounces like they did on Friday.

The Comets had two goals go in off opposition defenders in their 3-2 defeat of the American Hockey League-leading Abbotsford Heat on Friday.

Yannick Weber's point shot at 3:15 of the third period pinballed through the Abbotsford defence, and that proved to be the game winner.

"I think I was the third person it hit there," said Abbotsford captain Dean Arsene. "It was such a quick bang-bang play, there was nothing I could do. It just went off midway up my shin pad. As soon as it hit me, I was like, 'Oh no.' It's frustrating."

Utica's Joe Cannata made 35 saves in picking up his first win of the season, but still felt bad for his fellow netminder Joni Ortio.

"You look at all the goals and they weren't his fault and it's kind of tough when you're not seeing many shots," said Canatta. "A lot of people look towards the goalie as if it was his fault but he made some pretty good saves to keep them in it."

The Comets have now won three of their past four games and four straight on the road.

"We talked about how it's a year with streaks," said Cannata. "We're going to try to get on one here. We've been in every game. We have some more depth here. I feel our lineup is getting stronger."

That depth includes Weber, who joined the Comets after being waived by the Vancouver Canucks and now has three points in four games with the farm team. Also, Cal O'Reilly was signed recently after leaving Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the KHL and scored the opening goal.

Pascal Pelletier had a goal and an assist for Utica (5-11-2).

Abbotsford (17-6-1) lost for just the second time in 15 games, snapping a four-game winning streak. Ortio made 14 saves in his first loss this season after starting unbeaten in nine.

"What a great run," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "The guy did a tremendous job, played well for us all year. Tonight was no different. Those are tough pucks when they go off your own people but that was the way the game went for him."

The Heat scored two late goals to get within one, but couldn't come all the way back.

"We just didn't get a lot of second opportunities today," said Ward. "(Cannata) caught a lot of pucks, you've got to give him some credit. But we didn't get a lot of bodies to the net and didn't take his eyes away very much."

Michael Ferland and Greg Nemisz had the Heat goals.

The Comets opened the scoring at 12:54 of the first. O'Reilly's centring pass deflected off of Abbotsford forward Ben Street's foot and in.

Then, at 7:36 of the second, the Comets doubled their lead. Brandon DeFazio drove hard to the net, squeaking the puck under Ortio and Pelletier promptly helped it across the goal-line for his fourth of the season.

The Comets made it 3-0 on the power play at 3:15, with Weber being the benefactor of another bounce off a Heat player. His point shot ricocheted twice on the way to the goal, including off a defender's skate in the low slot, making it impossible for Ortio to stop.

The Heat broke Cannata's shutout bid with six minutes to go when Ferland wired a wrist shot from the top of the circle for his fifth of the year.

"We took a couple penalties there," said Canatta. "We knew they had a good power play and if you give a team enough chances they'll most likely connect on one."

They cut the deficit to one less than two minutes later. Nemisz was the last to touch the puck during a goalmouth scramble, giving him four goals on the season.

However, it was too little too late for the home team.

"A lot of (the Heat offence) was to the outside," said Canatta. "I saw a lot of it. There weren't many screen shots."

The two teams face each other again Saturday night at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.