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Knight with two goals and an assist, Ortio 34 saves, as Heat blank Bulldogs 6-0

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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Corban Knight snapped out of his scoring slump in a big way Friday night, with some help from an old friend.

Knight scored twice and assisted on another as the Abbotsford Heat blanked the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs 6-0 in American Hockey League action.

After recording five points in the final three games of December, Knight had no goals and just two assists in nine games through the month of January.

"I'd definitely say I was a little snake-bit the last little while here, and things weren't coming my way," said Knight. "It was nice to get a couple nice set-ups from the guys, and I was able to put them in. Hopefully I'll kind of put that behind me and move forward here."

Knight was matched up with former linemate at the University of North Dakota Evan Trupp. Trupp responded with his first multi-point game since being called up from the ECHL's Alaska Aces.

"We played two years together, and we're really good friends, too," said Knight. "The fact we were put together, I think we were both pretty excited about it, and we were able to get some chemistry going tonight."

Besides recording two second-period goals, Knight picked up the second assist on Markus Granlund's opening goal and was also in the crease for a Heat goal that was waved off in the first period.

"He's going through a learning curve like a lot of our guys," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "They're kind of over that hump of, 'I'm tired now.' Some of our college guys that come out, that's really hard for them. He's got a little bit more energy to his game, and Trupp made a difference."

Blair Jones had two goals in his first game since being put on waivers by the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

With the addition of Jones and Shane O'Brien, who was also sent down by the Flames, along with Heat's signing of Trevor Gillies, the Abbotsford dressing room is beginning to get quite crowded. Derek Smith and Sven Baertschi are also recent Flames demotions.

"Our team is at probably one of the most competitive points for ice time," said Ward. "That's based on health and depth. It might get worse next week when the NHL shuts down and they assign players, creating more of a log jam. It's a healthy situation. It makes coaching decisions a little bit harder but that's part of our job."

Josh Jooris also scored, while Max Reinhart had two assists as Abbotsford (27-14-4) got back in the win column after consecutive overtime losses last weekend.

Joni Ortio stopped 34 shots for his second shutout of the season, and was a factor despite the lopsided win.

"He's one of the unsung heroes," said Ward. "He made some huge saves at critical times. We gave them a couple good looks and he was there and made it look pretty easy."

Dustin Tokarski made 22 saves for Hamilton (20-19-4), which has won just once in its past five outings.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Ortio woke up his club with a huge save midway through the second period.

"Joni made some big saves in the second period when they had a couple cross-ice plays," said Jones. "It's kind of what I've been seeing from him all season."

Hamilton got a three-on-two rush while at the tail end of a penalty kill, but Ortio made a great save, sliding across to deny Martin St. Pierre's one-timer at the side of the net. During a post-whistle scuffle the Heat came away with another power play and this time made it count.

Max Reinhart fed Granlund and the Swede beat defender Darren Dietz at the blue-line and skated in on Tokarski, scoring blocker side for his team-high 18th of the season at 10:26.

Then, just 1:27 second later the Heat built on their momentum. Brett Olson put a perfect backhanded saucer pass on the tape of Knight in the slot and the High River, Alta. native made no mistake, beating Tokarski glove side.

Knight picked up his second with less than a minute to go in the period. Trupp came off the side boards and shovelled the puck to Knight in the high slot. This time he went top corner, blocker side for his 11th of the season.

Jooris made it 4-0 with his fifth of the season at 7:20 of the third. He took a feed from Baertschi, cut to the front of the net and swept the puck around Tokarski.

Jones completed the onslaught, scoring twice in less than two minutes. First he redirected Reinhart's perfect feed at 9:52, then wired a one-timer between Tokarski's pads for his 10th of the season.

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