The third time was the lucky charm as the Abbotsford Heat achieved a historical first Friday night thanks to a quick strike offence.
Jon Rheault and Greg Nemisz scored 44 seconds apart in the opening two minutes of the third period to help propel the Heat to an entertaining 4-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs before a crowd of 5,450 fans at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
The win, which keeps the Heat undefeated at three wins and no losses on the young AHL season, was the first in three home openers for the Abbotsford franchise.
"It's great for the organization to get that kind of monkey off our back," said head coach Troy Ward.
A deadly combination of speed, skill and an attack first mentality has provided the Calgary Flames farm club with a winning formula thus far.
Friday's result was a feather in the cap for the Heat in front of their fans, especially as this franchise tries to establish itself as viable in the Fraser Valley.
It didn't start out so well, however.
The Heat spotted the IceHogs - AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks - a 2-0 lead before the contest was even 10 minutes old and a 3-1 lead with just 36 seconds left in the opening period.
"Tonight definitely wasn't the way we drew it up," said Nemisz afterwards.
"We can score goals, we create opportunities. It's good to win . . . and get the two points but we definitely want to fix a lot of things in our game and be a lot better Sunday."
For all their early shortcomings, the Heat would not be denied the two points.
After surrendering a 3-1 lead on a Brandon Pirri power play goal, the Heat used their newfound speed and skill to eventually outplay the IceHogs when it mattered the most.
Paul Byron got the Heat to within a goal just 15 seconds after the Pirri tally, setting the stage for Rheault and Nemisz to strike with a pair of highlight reel goals.
The speedy Rheault notched his first goal of the season after accepting a deft pass through the neutral zone while in full flight, beating the Icehogs' defenceman to the outside and going high glove side on Alec Richards.
The winning goal was a near carbon copy.
Nemisz once again exposed Richards high on the glove side just 44 seconds later, taking a behind-the-back no-look pass from the diminutive Dustin Sylvester and chipping the puck over the IceHogs goalie - again at full speed.
"Dusty got a bit of a break there and had a step on the defenceman," said Nemisz.
"He's such a good playmaker and I knew he saw me in the corner of his eye so I just busted to the net and he made a great play."
- Leland Irving shook off a near disastrous start Friday night to earn his third win in three starts. He allowed three goals on the first five shots he faced, but was solid the rest of the way, stopping all 20 shots fired his way in the final two periods.
- Heat forward Ben Walter, a former BCHL graduate with the Langley Hornets, not only scored his first goal of the season, it was the team's first on home ice in 2011/12.
- The Abbotsford Heat reassigned third-year defenceman John Negrin to the Utah Grizzlies of the East Coast Hockey League on Friday.
Negrin has played in just 69 games over the last two seasons due to injury. In his rookie year with the Heat two years ago, the West Vancouver product scored fives goals and had 15 points in 45 games.
- The Heat announced on Thursday that Quintin Laing will retain the captaincy position he was given last season. Former Vancouver Canucks grinder Guillaume Desbiens and stay-at-home defenceman Joe Piskula were named assistants.