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Barons build big lead, fend off furious rally from Heat
Ben Hanowski scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season, Markus Granlund picked up an assist in his first AHL game, and Laurent Brossoit made his professional debut.
But those highlights – never mind a 22-4 edge in shots in the third period – didn't add up to a victory for the Abbotsford Heat on Friday evening, as they fell 4-3 to the Oklahoma City Barons to open a three-games-in-three-nights road swing.
Reto Berra made his fifth consecutive start in goal for the Heat, but he didn't make it to the midway point of the game – he was pulled in favour of rookie Brossoit at 4:32 of the middle frame after surrendering four goals.
The Barons' top line of Linus Omark, Anton Lander and Tyler Pitlick inflicted all of that damage, accounting for all four goals and combining for nine points. Omark was particularly dominant – he potted two goals and added two assists, while Lander and Derek Nesbitt chipped in with singles.
The Heat mounted a furious rally at that point – just over three minutes after Berra's exit, Hanowski got the visitors on the board off a feed from Granlund, who was in the lineup Friday after sitting out the first four games with a lower-body injury.
Goals by Chad Billins and Brett Olson early in the third period cut the deficit to one, but OKC goalie Richard Bachman kept them at bay after that, despite the Heat's desperate flurry to close out the contest.
Brossoit stopped all nine shots he saw in just over 34 minutes of action.
• Defenceman Brady Lamb made his season debut for the Heat, drawing into the lineup in place of Drew MacKenzie.
• The Heat (2-2-1) get another crack at the Barons (3-3-0) on Saturday evening, and they wrap up the trip on Sunday vs. the Texas Stars.