Heat get jump on Checkers, hang on for narrow victory
Abbotsford regains top spot with fifth straight win
The Abbotsford Heat appears to be the team to beat, again.
The Fraser Valley squad, which got off to a red-hot start this American Hockey League season before cooling off in November and December, has caught fire.
Danny Taylor made 25 saves Friday in Charlotte, N.C., as the Heat beat the Charlotte Checkers 4-3 for their fifth consecutive AHL victory.
Ben Walter, Dustin Sylvester, Brett Carson and Brett Olson each scored for the Heat (2212-7), who moved one point ahead of idle Toronto for the North Division lead.
Chris Terry scored twice for Charlotte (25-14-5), while Jared Staal chipped in with a single.
Down 4-1 in the third period, the Checkers found their jump and rallied with goals by Terry and Staal coming 21 seconds apart. Charlotte goaltender Justin Peters finished with 17 saves.
The Heat and Checkers play again Saturday at 9 a.m. (PST), before both teams break for the 2013 All-Star Classic.
Heat captain Quintin Laing and netminder Barry Brust will be participating at the AHL showcase in Providence, R.I., on Sunday and Monday.
The Heat resume play in Cleveland on Jan. 31 where they will face the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche) twice and the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) once over a three-day stretch.
Royals crown Giants
The Victoria Royals scored two goals less than two minutes apart early in the third period Friday night en route to a 6-4 Western Hockey League win over the visiting Vancouver Giants at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena.
Brandon Magee scored his fourth of the night just 32 seconds into the third period to put the Royals up 5-3 before Brandon Fushimi secured the win with a goal at 2: 21.
Jackson Houck scored two goals for the Giants including one on a penalty shot. Carter Popoff and Cain Franson had the other goals for Vancouver.
The loss extends Vancouver's winless streak to five games.
The Giants had 24 shots on goal, and Giants' goalies Payton Lee and Jared Rathjen faced a combined total of 29 shots.
The same teams play Satur-ay night in Victoria.
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