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MacKinnon's two goals lift IceCaps over Crunch

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The Canadian Press
12/12/2013 2:40:56 AM
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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Even on an off night, the Abbotsford Heat showed the patience and skill required to sit atop the American Hockey League's standings.

The Heat gave up an early goal but battled back and took over the game in Wednesday's 6-2 defeat of the Iowa Wild.

Abbotsford trailed 1-0 and 2-1 until the Heat scored twice in 15 seconds.

"We really had some bad breakdowns," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "I thought, 'Is this one of those nights where it's a typical midweek game?' We don't play a lot of those in Abbotsford, and it was like, 'Here we go, it's a 6-5 shootout' but then we settled in a little bit.

"The critical juncture for me was we scored that third goal. Once we got up 3-2, we kind of relaxed a little bit and we settled in and I thought we played a little bit better defensively."

Greg Nemisz scored that goal. The Calgary Flames' 2008 first round pick was playing in his 200th career AHL game.

"It's something to be proud of," said Nemisz of the milestone. "It's not easy to play 200 professional games."

The 23-year-old has 81 points in that span, to go with his one assist in 15 NHL games.

"Nemo is still forefront in the organization's mind," said Ward. "If you look at all the players who have donned the Heat jersey and played the 200 games, he's one of the most consistent performers. He obviously stubbed his toe last year -- he was coming off an injury at the start of the year and he just didn't have a real good year.

"But so far, I think he's gotten out of the gates parallel to his first two years, where he got right around 30 points. We're happy with that, we're still developing and working on parts of his game that are still coming."

Ben Street scored twice, picking up his team-high 16th goal of the season, giving November's AHL player of the month 23 points in his last 15 games.

Markus Granlund had a goal and an assist for Abbotsford (20-6-2), giving him a 10-game point streak in which he has 13 points. Brett Olson had a goal and two assists.

Michael Ferland also scored, Corban Knight and Kane Lafranchise had two assists apiece, while Joni Ortio made 22 saves.

"We have the forwards that are capable of scoring when they want to," said Lafranchise.

The Heat needed just 20 shots to get to six goals. The finished with 26 and wish they had more.

"We were a little opportunistic tonight," said Nemisz. "We made some good plays. All in all, I don't think we played as well as we wanted to but we definitely had luck tonight."

Brett Bulmer had a goal and an assist for Iowa (8-13-1), while Erik Haula also scored. Johan Gustafsson stopped 20 shots in the loss.

The Wild opened the scoring just 64 seconds into the game. Bulmer recovered the puck in the corner and quickly centred for Haula who converted for his fifth goal of the year.

"It's just one mistake in the back our net so we tried not to get too down about that," said Nemisz.

Abbotsford tied it around the eight-minute mark. Olson crossed the blue-line and fed Ferland rushing down the left wing. The Brandon, Man. native beat Gustafsson stick side with a quick shot, giving him six goals on the season.

However Iowa got a power play shortly after to regain its lead. Bulmer raced down the right side and beat Ortio glove side, top corner for his ninth of the year.

The Heat took the lead with two goals in 25 seconds. First Street picked up his 15th of the season, one-timing a centring feed by Josh Jooris at 14:40.

Then Nemisz recorded his fifth of the season, chipping a loose puck past Gustafsson after Knight threw it on the goal.

Granlund got his 11th of the season at 5:10 of second period. Kane Lafranchise threw the puck on net and Granlund corralled the rebound, tucking it between Gustafsson's skate and the post.

Street scored his second at 14:55. Knight dished him a backhand pass that Street one-timed, top shelf, giving the Heat a commanding 5-2 lead.

The offensive continued in the third when Olson scored at 8:50 on the power play. He redirected a perfect pass from Lafranchise for his fifth of the year.

The Heat's power play finished 2 for 3 and has been red-hot of late, ranking them second in the league with a 26.8 success rate.

St. John's IceCaps (Photo: TSN.ca)

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(Photo: TSN.ca)
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