ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Roman Horak's patience through a long goal drought was rewarded in overtime Saturday.
Horak scored at 2:17 of overtime to lift the Abbotsford Heat to a 4-3 win against the Rockford IceHogs in American Hockey League action.
After scoring 10 times in his first nine games this season, Horak's offence has dried up and he went 24 games without finding the back of the net.
"It felt like a big rock fell off me," said Horak. "I haven't scored in three months. That's just too long. I'm extremely happy I could score in overtime and get us the point."
Horak was sent in alone by Sven Baertschi, who drew two defenders to himself, and beat Rockford goaltender Henrik Karlsson for his 15th goal.
"It was a great play by Sven," said Horak. "He had two guys on him and he was able to pass it to me. I didn't want to pull some fancy move, so I just shot it five-hole and it worked out."
Horak's last AHL goal was Dec. 30, though he did have one goal in a brief call-up with the Calgary Flames this year.
"Roman's an NHL player," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "He can play at that level, and ironically, he'd probably score easier at that level than he does at this level.
"He had great legs tonight. Whether he scored the goal in overtime or not, he played a great game. I thought he got what he deserved."
Baertschi also had a goal for the Heat that looked to be the winning goal until the visiting IceHogs tied the game with 9.4 seconds to play.
Baertschi took a centring feed from Max Reinhart with less than five minutes to go in regulation, and put the Heat up after Rockford erased a two-goal deficit in the third.
However, Rockford got a power play in the final minute and sent the game to overtime with a six-on-four advantage.
Brandon Pirri found Rostislav Olesz in the high slot and he beat Heat goalie Danny Taylor with a one-timer that deflected off a player into the top right corner.
"Credit to them, they got a shot off — you put pucks to the net eventually it will hit something and go in," said Taylor. "For the most part we were pretty good on the 4-on-6 there."
The goal gives Olesz two goals and an assist in his first two games of the season with Rockford.
Ben Walter and Tyler Ruegsegger also scored for Abbotsford (30-28-9), who moved into a five-way tie for seventh place in the Western Conference with 69 points, though they have fewer games remaining than all the teams they are chasing for the final playoff spots.
Taylor made 39 saves, while Karlsson stopped 21 shots in the loss, snapping a personal five-game winning streak.
Pirri recorded a goal and two assists for Rockford (33-28-3), while Ben Smith also had a goal and one helper.
After a scoreless first period, Abbotsford took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission. Walter converted the rebound off a Ben Street shot at 11:49, giving him 13 goals on the year.
Then Ruegsegger intercepted a pass in the slot and wired a shot past Karlsson with less than two minutes to play in the period, his eighth of the campaign.
The IceHogs tied the game with two goals in three minutes and 35 seconds, beginning on the power play at 4:27 of the third. After Taylor made a great save off Jeremy Morin in front, the puck squirted free to Pirri at the side of the net where the Toronto native scored his 19th goal.
Then Smith erased the deficit, when after his initial shot was blocked he chipped the rebound over Taylor, who was scrambling to grab the loose puck.
Baertschi and Olesz swapped goals, sending the game to overtime.
"We had a good effort yesterday and didn't get rewarded," said Taylor of Friday's 5-2 loss to the IceHogs. "Tonight Rockford probably played a bit better of a game but we win. That's hockey. The hockey gods were on our side today."