AHL

Sproul lifts Griffins to double OT win over Heat in Game 1

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The Canadian Press
4/26/2014 2:28:29 AM
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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Ryan Sproul scored the winner late in double overtime to lift the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 2-1 win over the Abbotsford Heat 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 with 33.4 seconds to go in the second overtime period.

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.

Game 2 is Saturday at the Abbotsford Centre.

Olson opened the scoring for the home side at 11:44 of the first. Knight centred for Sven 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 an opportunity to double their lead on back-to-back power plays midway through the second period. The best chance was Ben Street down low, but Mrazek followed him left to right, kicking his pad out to keep the Griffins within one goal.

Grand Rapids' best opportunity to tie the game came on a power play with six minutes to play in the second. Andreas Athanasiou broke in and tried to beat Ortio with a slick backhand deke, but the Finnish netminder made a nice glove save to keep his team up by one.

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 the visiting Griffins within a goal.

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.

Mrazek was shaken up around the 16-minute mark of overtime. The Czech goalie rushed way out of his net to chip a puck away from Baertschi. The two collided and it took a great defensive block by Nick Jensen to stop Olson from burying the puck into the empty net. Mrazek was tended to by the trainer but remained in the game.

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

Abbotsford Heat (Photo: TSN.ca)

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(Photo: TSN.ca)
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