By Josh Evans, OKC Barons on 01/14/2012

For now, there is a logjam at the top of the American Hockey League’s Western Division.  The Oklahoma City Barons dropped a tough 2-1 decision to the Abbotsford Heat last night.  .

The Barons looked to rebound from their loss to Rockford the night before and were firing the puck from all locations early in the first period.  Although they had several opportunities to score, it was Abbotsford that would strike first.

Abbotsford was able to hem the Barons into their zone and at 16:29, Justin Dowling deflected a Jordan Henry point shot.

During the second period, Oklahoma City was again firing the puck from all locations and were able to get one past Heat netminder Danny Taylor at 13:08 of the period. 

From the right-wing circle, Teemu Hartikainen was able to find defenseman Dylan Yeo at his left point position.  He fired a shot through the screen of a Heat defenseman and bested Taylor over his shoulder.

Just over seven minutes into the third, John Rheault scored what proved to be the game winner from just inside the left-wing faceoff circle.  Using a Barons defenseman as a screen, he was able to send it past the outstretched leg of Barons goaltender Yann Danis.

The Barons were presented with a power-play opportunity with just over two minutes left to play when Guillaume Desbiens was whistled for shooting the puck over the glass from the defensive zone.  The Barons mustered a couple of shots on goal, but weren’t able to solve the goaltender of the Heat netminder.

Oklahoma City pulled Danis with under a minute to play, but weren’t able to score the equalizer.

Danis stopped 13 of the 15 shots he faced on the night.  His record falls to 15-8-1.  His counterpart from Abbotsford stopped 32 of 33 on the night for the win.  Danny Taylor improves to 14-6-0.

By way of their win, the Heat pulled even with the Barons and Houston Aeros for the top spot in the Western Division with 51 points.  The Barons and Heat skate tomorrow at 4 p.m.  The winner will take over sole possession of first place in the Western Division.

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