04/25/2014 22:21 EDT | Updated 06/25/2014 01:59 EDT

Sproul lifts Griffins to double overtime win over Heat; Grand Rapids wins Game 1

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Grand Rapids Griffin defenceman Ryan Sproul's double overtime goal may have had innocent beginnings, but for the Abbotsford Heat it was sudden death.

Sproul scored the winner with just 33.4 seconds to go in the second overtime period on Friday in Game 1 of their American Hockey League playoff series.

After the Griffins stole the puck in the Heat zone, the puck came around to Sproul at the point and his wrist shot found its way through a maze of bodies.

"I was assuming it was going to the third overtime," said Sproul, the Detroit Red Wings 2011 second-round pick. "I just threw the puck on net and getting ready to go for a change."

The play began with a Heat player bobbling a puck along the boards.

"I came off the bench and the puck just came around to me," said Griffins rookie winger Zach Nastasiuk. "I gave it up to Paetsch and he gave it to Sproul and Sproul put it on net, a good play. When I saw it go in there was a lot of relief and on the bench too. But it was a good goal."

Mattias Backman, playing just his third game in North America, tied the game in the third period for the Griffins.

Petr Mrazek stopped 55 shots in the win for Grand Rapids, who killed six penalties in the game, including a five-minute major late in the second period. Their fifth-ranked penalty kill limited Abbotsford's fourth-ranked power play's opportunities, including a penalty to Jordin Tootoo with just three minutes to play in the third.

"It was very back-and-forth," said Sproul. "Obviously this is going to be a good series, and we knew that coming in. It's going to be a battle every game."

The Griffins bench had a brief moment of anxiety late in the first overtime frame. Mrazek rushed way out of his net to chip a puck away from Sven Baertschi. The two collided and it took a great defensive block by Nick Jensen to stop Brett Olson from burying the puck into the empty net. Mrazek was tended to by the trainer but remained in the game.

"He's a huge part of the team obviously," said Sproul. "Just by watching that game you can tell. When a guy goes down like that, you've got to worry about it, but he was all good and kind of brushed it off. He didn't seem too worried about it."

Olson had the only goal for the Heat, his first career AHL playoff tally, while Joni Ortio made 40 saves in the losing effort.

"In the end, it was tough for us to get scored on," said Baertschi. "But in the end, I think we showed tonight, that we should win this series."

Game 2 is Saturday at the Abbotsford Centre.

Olson opened the scoring for the home side at 11:44 of the first. Corban Knight centred for Baertschi in the slot. The Swiss winger was robbed on the one-timer and the rebound but Olson swooped in and buried the loose puck to give the Heat the early lead.

The Heat had a glorious opportunity to expand their lead late in the second period. While already on the penalty kill, the Griffins' David McIntyre hit the Heat's Chris Breen into the boards from behind, drawing a five-minute major. However, they managed only a few scoring chances, leaving Grand Rapids within a goal.

"Both five-on-threes… I didn't think we were real crisp there, and I didn't think we generated any momentum out of it," said Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward. "I thought it was actually more deflating for our hockey team than it was a pick-me-up."

Tootoo nearly tied the game shortly after the major penalty expired, but he rang a wrist shot off the near post.

Backman finally evened the game at 12:37 of the third, toe-dragging the puck around rookie Emile Poirier, and firing a shot top corner, blocker side.

Michael Granlund had a quality scoring chance late in the third period with Tootoo in the box again, but his sleek backhand was snared by Mrazek's glove, sending the game to overtime.

Granlund also had a pair of back-to-back scoring chances about seven minutes into overtime, including a point-blank kick save by Mrazek to extend the overtime period.

"I felt after the first overtime I was getting ready for a long night - and it was a long night," said Nastasiuk.

Midway through the second overtime period the Heat's line of Baertschi, Olson and Knight had a shift on which they had three quality looks at Mrazek, but failed to end the game.

Grand Rapids outshot Abbotsford 13-8 in the second overtime, having produced little in the previous four periods.