ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Justin Dowling scored the only goal and Leland Irving made 22 saves as the Abbotsford Heat shut out the Grand Rapids Griffins 1-0 in American Hockey League action Saturday.
Playing in his third game of the year, the 20-year-old Dowling recorded his first AHL goal after signing a contract out of Swift Current of the WHL last week.
"It's unbelievable," Dowling said. "My parents came down (from Calgary) so it was kind of surreal getting it in front of them."
Dowling took a perfect cross feed on the power play from Tyler Ruegsegger and snapped the puck by a sprawling Jordan Pearce at 2:31 of the third.
"I just saw Ruegs down low and wanted to find the open space," Dowling said. "Luckily he made a great pass past the guy's stick and I had an open net. It was an unbelievable play."
Abbotsford (36-29-10) and Grand Rapids (35-31-10) were tied heading into the game. They are in a battle with the Toronto Marlies, Peoria Rivermen, Oklahoma City Barons, and the San Antonio Rampage for the crossover spot in the North Division. With the win Abbotsford is just four points back of that final playoff position, with a game in hand.
"Coming back from a road trip this was a tough game to play, especially with two teams fighting for the same position, that's fourth hole," Heat head coach Jim Playfair said. "Our defence as a whole were very good, the power play and the penalty kill were excellent."
Grand Rapids is on a five-game losing streak.
Abbotsford won 4-2 on Friday, snapping a four-game winless streak drought.
Pearce stopped 25 shots in the losing effort.
Irving had to make one of his best saves in the second period when Brent Raedeke was sprung on a partial breakaway.
Pearce's best saves came with just under six minutes to play in the second as Ales Kotalik blasted a shot from the top of the faceoff circle and Dowling batted at the rebound.
Quintin Laing drew a high-sticking penalty in the third and Dowling made Derek Meech and the Griffins pay.
Irving preserved the shutout with a gorgeous glove save off Ilari Filppula with about eight minutes to go.