Petr Mrazek has been the best among AHL rookie goaltenders.
Barry Brust has been the top goalie in the AHL altogether.
On a night that featured the best goaltender in the league vs. the top rookie goaltender, it was the rookie who came out on top as Mrazek and the Grand Rapids Griffins had little trouble with the Abbotsford Heat in a 5-1 decision favoring the Griffins.
Mrazek made 29 saves for his ninth win of the season, and came within 3:12 of his first career shutout.
After both netminders kept the game scoreless for over the first 30 minutes, the Griffins got on the board at 14:09 of the second period when Brust bit on Tomas Tatar driving toward the net. Tatar then flipped the puck back to Joakim Andersson, who fired the puck at a wide open net when Brust couldn't get back in time. The goal was Andersson's eighth of the year.
The Griffins would catch Brust out of his crease again when he attempted to play a puck just outside the trapezoid, but hesitated. Francis Pare pounced on the puck first, and dished to Riley Sheahan who fired it home at 18:16 for his fifth goal of the season.
Brust was yanked after the second period, and replaced by Danny Taylor to start the third. Taylor entered the game ranked second in the AHL among goaltenders, but the change did not make a difference.
The Griffins kept their foot on the accelerator in the third, and struck again at 3:35 with Pare scoring his 11th goal of the season on a power play. The goal broke a 0-for-23 power play drought for the Griffins.
Sheahan added his second of the night at 16:04 after re-directing a shot from Nathan Paetsch, but Mrazek lost his chance for a shutout 44 seconds later after Nick Tuzzolino scored.
The Heat pulled Taylor with three minutes left, but Gustav Nyquist added an empty-netter with 1:08 left.
The five goals were the most allowed by Abbotsford all season. It also marked the first time that the Griffins had beaten the Heat in Grand Rapids since October 2009.
The Griffins will play their last game before Christmas Saturday night at home vs. Chicago. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
- GR Sheahan (2 goals)
- GR Mrazek (W 29 saves)
- GR Pare (goal, assist)