ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Ben Street may have bought into his coach's philosophy, but seeing a pair of pucks go in Saturday still took a weight off his shoulders.
Heat head coach Troy Ward often preaches that the process — getting scoring chances — is more important than results on the scoreboard. But after Abbotsford snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League play.
"I've been squeezing the stick a little tighter, for sure," said Street, who leads the AHL in shots on goal. "It's kind of a slippery slope — when you're shooting that many, you're getting chances, and when they're not going in everyone says, 'It's good that you're getting chances.' But eventually it wears on you, and it was starting to wear on me a bit. So it was nice a couple of them found the back of the net tonight."
He also added an assist on Tyler Ruegsegger's second-period goal that proved to be the winner. Ruegsegger was a healthy scratch the past two games but drew back in Saturday onto a scoring line with Street and Paul Byron, who have had chemistry for parts of the season.
"Street's so easy to play with — smart, and does a lot of good things right," said Byron. "I'm a passer and he's a shooter, so I think we complement each other."
Ward agreed that their line had instant chemistry.
"Paulie pushes the pace and Ben's a pure shooter," said Ward of Byron and Street. "If Paulie pushes the pace back and gets the pucks to Ben like tonight, he's going to be able to shoot pucks quite a bit.
Dynamic defenceman T.J. Brodie, who played up with the Calgary Flames most of last season, had an impact game, only recording one assist but drawing praise after the game from teammates and coach alike.
"That's a high-level skill play, and you've got to give him a lot of credit for that," said Street of the pass that set up his first goal. "It was right in my wheelhouse, and it was easy to skate onto it. I didn't even need to break stride."
Ward has also noticed a difference in the play-making ability of Brodie.
"Early on here T.J. would hold the puck a really long time and give it to someone and hope it connected," said Ward. "Now it's more out of creativity and he moves pucks quicker."
Stay-at-home defenceman Joe Callahan had two assists for Abbotsford (17-10-7), while Danny Taylor made 17 saves for the win.
David Leggio stopped 28 shots for the Americans.
Rochester (17-13-3) struck first at the 6:47 mark of the first. After Taylor turned away shots by Kevin Sundher and T.J. Brennan, Tarnasky batted the rebound out of the air and through the legs of the Heat goalie for his sixth of the season.
Rochester had a four-minute power play, compliments of Byron's double minor, but couldn't muster many opportunities.
Street tied the game with 30.4 seconds to go in the first. He took that nifty drop pass from Brodie and ripped a hard wrist shot over the blocker of Leggio.
"That goal was huge," said Byron. "It definitely changed the momentum in the game, especially late in the period like that. As soon as we got scored on first, it seemed like the energy dropped a little bit. Getting that goal at the end of the period gave us a lot of momentum."
Abbotsford took advantage of Luke Adam's misfortune at 11:12 while the Rochester forward was without his stick. The Heat cycled the puck around the zone like a power play and after Callahan's initial point shot and Street's rebound attempt were stopped, Ruegsegger raced in to bury the loose puck for just his second goal of the season.
"He's a sparkplug for us," said Ward of the University of Denver product. "He's earned everything he's got here. For a guy like that, to work as hard as you do, and then get rewarded… we felt real good for him. We call him Rudy – the hockey version of Rudy in my opinion."
Street doubled the lead at 3:23 of the third, taking a pass from Byron at the hash marks and quickly sliding the puck under Leggio's pad.
Taylor wasn't tested often but when called upon he did his part in the win. After a failed Heat power play, Brennan came down on a two-on-one and unleashed a wicked wrist shot that Taylor stretched to snag from the air. With less than two minutes he made a big save off Brian Flynn's one-timer in front, keeping his club up by two.
With 5:50 to go Sven Baertschi was hooked on a breakaway by Mark Pysyk and was awarded a penalty shot but failed to convert the opportunity, keeping Rochester's hopes alive.
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