Moose, Heat stave off elimination in Game 5’s

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The defending Western Conference champions were not ready to bow out of this year’s postseason yet, as Manitoba cruised to a season-saving 5-2 win over Hamilton in Game 5 of the teams’ North Division semifinal at the MTS Centre on Friday.

Peter Olvecky staked the Moose to a 2-0 lead after two periods, and Guillaume Desbiens capped the scoring in the third frame, including an empty-net tally in the closing minutes.

Aaron Volpatti added his first career playoff goal for Manitoba, and both Dan Sexton and captain Mike Keane contributed a pair of assists in the winning effort.

Manitoba goaltender Cory Schneider turned aside 28 of 30 shots between the pipes, helping the Moose overcome a 30-22 disadvantage in shots on goal, including 16-7 in the third period alone.

Bulldogs defenseman Andre Benoit and forward David Desharnais broke through for third-period goals to make it a 3-2 game, but the Moose’s Desbiens then scored twice to put the contest out of reach.

The series will now shift back to Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum for Game 6 on Sunday night, with the Moose, who fell to Hershey in last year’s Calder Cup Finals, looking to force a Game 7 on Tuesday.

Abbotsford jumped out to an early lead and finally held Rochester’s offense at bay en route to a 3-1 win over the Americans on Friday at the Entertainment & Sports Centre in Game 5 of the teams’ North Division semifinal.

The Heat avoided elimination and cut the Americans’ series lead to 3-2, and the teams will now return to western New York for Game 6 of the series on Sunday night.

Jon Rheault scored his second goal in as many games to put the Heat on top 7:45 into the contest, and captain Garth Murray followed with his first of the playoffs less than three minutes later.

It wouldn’t be easy for Abbotsford, though, as Rochester veteran Mike York scored before the first period was out to make it a 2-1 contest.

The game remained 2-1 in favor of Abbotsford through the second period and nearly half of the third before Heat forward David Van der Gulik scored unassisted at 9:48 to give his club some breathing room.

Abbotsford held on to win by that 3-1 final, as goaltender David Shantz turned aside 18 of 19 shots in net.

The Heat rebounded after being outscored 14-5 in a pair of home-ice losses to Rochester in Games 3 and 4, and Abbotsford now has a chance to push this series to the limit.