AHL

Giroux scores late tiebreaker as Barons defeat Heat

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Associated Press
2/18/2011 11:56:50 PM
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CALGARY -- Alexandre Giroux made the Abbotsford Heat pay Friday night.

Giroux scored the winning goal with just over a minute to play to earn the Oklahoma City Barons a 3-1 win over the Heat in an AHL game played in Calgary.

Colin McDonald chased down a puck deep in the Heat end and zipped a backhand into the slot to an open Giroux, who fired a slapshot past Heat goaltender Leland Irving.

After leading the AHL in goals the past two seasons with 60 and 50 respectively, Giroux ranks second in the league this year with 28 goals.

"That was awesome," said Giroux. "They had a lot of chances, but we were lucky enough to get one break and put one in at the end."

Giroux, 29, was given a hard time by his teammates after his exuberant celebration.

"Guys made fun of my celebration but you just get excited, the winning goal with a minute left in the game, that's always fun and it never gets old," he said.

The goal came right after the Heat had nearly scored on a dangerous 3-on-2 advantage.

"We had a chance to score and then all three of our forwards came off, me being one of them, on the backcheck, and left their top guy wide open in the slot," said Abbotsford's goal scorer Ryan Stone. "That guy's scored 50 goals in this league a couple times, we can't give him that opportunity and we knew that.

"But we made a little slip and they obviously took advantage and won the game."

Mark Arcobello and Chris Vandeveld, into an empty net, also scored for Oklahoma City (29-19-2-5), which has won eight-of-10 road games.

Abbotsford (27-23-2-5) saw its four-game winning streak snapped.

"It's a little frustrating," said Irving, who had 24 stops. "It's too bad because we came out and had a great start, but we weren't able to put together a full 60 minutes.

"Those were two big points that got away from us tonight."

The minor-league affiliates of the NHL's Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers met as part of the "Face-off in the Foothills" hockey weekend, a buildup to Sunday's Heritage Classic between the Flames and the Montreal Canadiens.

A crowd of 8,407 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, many wearing Calgary Flames jerseys, took in the contest featuring some up-and-coming prospects.

One was Irving, the Flames 2006 first-round pick who entered the night on a four-game win streak having yielded just four goals in that span.

With the game tied in the second, Irving made his best stop sliding across the net to deny Greg Stewart's dangerous shot after he had been set up on a cross-ice pass from Jeff Petry.

At the other end was Martin Gerber, 36, who has seen time with five NHL teams.

Gerber's glove stop off Gaelan Patterson in the second on a breakaway kept the Barons within a goal.

"We hadn't played in 10 days and when you're off for that long, you have try to find your legs, try to find your system again," said Giroux. "In the first, that was pretty ugly.

"But we just tried to calm down and get back to doing what we do."

Oklahoma City tied it 1-1 at 7:18 of the second. Ryan O'Marra sent a pass to Arcobello, who put a shot over Irving's shoulder for his first AHL goal.

Abbotsford opened the scoring at 11:17 of the first when Stone pounced on a turnover and converted a wrist shot.

It was the first of four meetings for the two teams this season. They meet again Saturday night in Abbotsford, B.C.

NOTES -- Veteran Oklahoma City D Bryan Helmer, 38, played in his 1,000th career AHL game. He ranks seventh on the all-time list and is the only defenceman to reach that mark. ... Petry played for the first time since returning from the Oilers. Petry had one goal and two assists in 21 games with Edmonton. ... Back in the Heat lineup was Lance Bouma after a five-game stint with the Flames. When he was sent down Thursday, he didn't have to go anywhere as Abbotsford was already in town.

Oklahoma City Barons (Photo: TSN)

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(Photo: TSN)
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