ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Jerry D’Amigo made sure a hectic few days for goalie James Reimer ended on a winning note.
The Toronto Marlies forward scored the shootout winner Sunday as his team pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Abbotsford Heat.
It was Reimer’s first AHL start since completing a successful stint with the parent Toronto Maple Leafs. He criss-crossed the continent twice in a matter of days—flying from Phoenix to Toronto with the Leafs on Friday before travelling back west to Abbotsford.
He showed little rust, stopping 23 shots in regulation before turning aside all five Abbotsford attempts in the shootout.
“Reimer stood on his head in the shootout,” said D’Amigo. “He put the game in my hands.”
Mike Zigomanis and Juraj Mikus scored in regulation for Toronto (20-16-7), which wraps up a nine-game road trip with back-to-back games in Manitoba this week.
Jon Rheault and John Armstrong scored for the Heat (19-17-6).
After a scoreless first period, the goals started coming. Rheault picked up his fifth of the season 31 seconds in by beating Reimer high glove-side with a wrist shot.
Armstrong made it 2-0 on an Abbotsford power play at 1:36 with a similar move.
“We came out and played one of our best periods in the first and I think we were shocked that we were rewarded so well when we got that 2-0 lead,” said Rheault. “I think we got away from what we were doing in the first.
“You got to go with what’s working and I think we kind of strayed away from that.”
The Marlies cut into the Heat’s lead when Zigomanis beat Leland Irving stick-side for his seventh of the season. Mikus tied it 2-2 after getting a perfect feed from Fabian Brunnstrom, who picked up his third assist in two games since joining the team in a trade.
“We’ve got a real reslient group,” said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins. “The game (Friday) night was close and once again here we were in a shootout. Both these teams right now are really evenly matched and I thought both teams put on a great show tonight.”
D’Amigo had the Marlies best chance in overtime, but could not get the puck past Irving who was down, out and scrambling.
Abbotsford had two power play opportunities in the extra session, including a very brief 5-on-3, but could not beat Reimer.
After a bit of confusion over a Marlies line-change late in overtime, Zigomanis was handed a game misconduct by referee Jean Hebert—which made him ineligible for the shootout.
“It seemed like there was a miscommunication with the referee,” Eakins said of the situation. “They deemed that Zigomanis had came off the bench on a late change—the problem is he had already been out there for 35, 40 seconds and never left the ice.
“The referee thought he came off the bench. It was a mistake and it almost cost us the game.”
Reimer picked up his eighth AHL win of the season while Irving turned aside 29 shots in the loss.