The first-place Heat, who came into tonight’s matchup with a league-leading 21 points, spoiled the home debut of rookie goaltender Connor Knapp as former Buffalo Sabres draft pick Paul Byron broke a 2-2 standstill with the eventual game-winner midway through the final frame. Knapp, who made just his second start of the season, turned aside 18 of Abbotsford’s 21 shots.
The power-play duo of Brayden McNabb and T.J. Brennan continued to pour in points for the Amerks. McNabb lit the lamp for the first time this season, while Brennan assisted on the goal to extend his point streak to four games. Rookie forward Brian Flynn also added an assist, improving his point streak to a career-long six games.
The Amerks jumped out to an early lead when Phil Varone scored top-shelf just four minutes into the opening frame. Defenseman Mark Pysyk broke up the Abbottsford rush and set up Varone, who cut to the net and roofed it for a 1-0 lead.
The Heat pulled even early in the second stanza as Quintin Laing swatted home a loose puck past Knapp at 15:56 to make it a 1-1 game. Laing deposited the tying goal off a centering pass from Ben Street.
Abbotsford took its first lead of the night late in the second period when Sven Baertschi jumped on Roman Horak’s rebound for the go-ahead goal at 13:36. After Knapp made the initial save on Horak, Baertschi corralled the loose puck in the low slot and buried it to give the Heat a 2-1 lead.
The Amerks fought back to tie the game early in the third with a power-play goal from McNabb. Brennan sent a cross-ice pass to McNabb, who patiently moved into the high slot and wristed a shot over Abbotsford goaltender Leland Irving’s glove for the equalizer.
The Heat took a 3-2 lead midway through the third period when Brady Lamb ripped a shot from the point, but the rebound would bounce right to Byron, who sent it to the back of the net from the top of the crease.
Rochester wraps the weekend up on Saturday, Nov. 17 as it heads to the southern tier to clash with the Binghamton Senators at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the second of eight meetings between the intrastate rivals and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.