One night after dropping a 3-1 decision against the visiting Texas Stars, the Abbotsford Heat looked to put a few more pucks in a few more nets. They failed to do so, winning a 2-1 shootout decision over those same Stars to maintain their advantage atop the Western Conference.
Abbotsford came out of the gates quickly, perhaps fueled by head coach Troy Ward’s decision to give his players the morning skate off. Three quality scoring chances were theirs in the first two and a half minutes. The Heat held most of the momentum, in fact, until Joe Piskula took a hooking penalty at 6:22. From then on, Texas controlled most of the play, though Abby did a good job of keeping the puck to the outside and limiting the Stars’ chances. The best opportunities for both teams came within seconds of each other following that Piskula penalty. The Stars’ Alex Chiasson tried unsuccessfully to stuff a puck past Barry Brust from about three feet. The rebound was cleared, and Lance Bouma ended up with a short-handed breakaway the other way. Only a last-second stick check prevented the Heat from taking the lead while a man down.
As entertaining as the first period was, with scoring chances aplenty and a scrap between Chris Breen and Francis Wathier, the second period proved quite dull. The teams did manage to get on the scoresheet, with Texas’ Matt Fraser opening the scoring on a 2-man advantage 5 minutes in. The Heat responded 3 minutes later on a powerplay of their own, Krys Kolanos tapping in a gorgeous cross-ice feed from Ben Street. Other than that brief flurry of activity, however, you could’ve taken the period off, and indeed it seemed many of the players did.
Loads more after the jump.
The Heat got a chance to take the lead early in the third period, when Tyler Sloan took a dumb holding the stick penalty. The powerplay looked good, and kept the pressure on for most of the two minutes, but ultimately failed to score. The penalty kill seemed to spark the Stars, and for the next 5 minutes they absolutely dominated play. Barry Brust made the best of his 39 saves of the night, terrific pad save off of Antoine Roussel on a tic-tac-toe passing play that looked sure to put the visitors in front.
Brust was called on again in the extra frame, as Texas carried most of the play, and he was equal to the task. A shootout was necessary for this one. After Reilly Smith had the puck roll off his stick on the opening shot, TJ Brodie put the Heat in front on a gorgeous backhand-forehand deke. Matt Fraser was up next for the Stars, and was stopped by Barry Brust’s right pad, putting the Heat firmly in charge.
Roman Horak scored next with an almost identical deke to Brodie’s. On Texas’ third attempt, Brust nearly got the paddle down on Tomas Vincour, but the puck trickled in, and Ben Walter was stopped at the other end by Jack Campbell. Cody Eakin and Carter Bancks both fanned on their respective fourth attempts, leaving Jordie Benn with a must-score 5th attempt. He came through with a great forehand deke, but Krys Kolanos wasted no time skating in with the final shot and firing past Campbell’s glove to give the Heat only their 2nd win in the last 6 games.
The Heat kick off a 6-game holiday-season road trip this Wednesday with an odd 9:00am matchup in Chicago against the junior Canucks. If you fancy coming out to watch the Heat you’ll have to wait until the new year. The next home games are January 4th and 5th against the Rochester Americans.