A resilient effort on the road fell just short for the Abbotsford Heat on Friday, as they dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Houston Aeros.
The Heat lost defenceman Josh Meyers following a scary collision in the first period, then battled back from a trio of one-goal deficits to secure a single point.
The Aeros ensured that’s all they would get. Jon DiSalvatore and Chad Rau put the puck past Heat goalie J.P. Lamoureux in the shootout, while Greg Nemisz was the lone Abbotsford shooter to solve Houston keeper Anton Khudobin.
The Aeros (27-19-1-3) moved up to fourth place in the tightly bunched West Division standings with the victory, while the Heat (21-20-2-4) remained fifth in the North.
Houston forward Jean-Michel Daoust opened the scoring at 16:56 of the first period. In the late stages of the frame, Meyers ran into teammate Matt Pelech as he stepped out of the penalty box. The second-year defenceman, suffering from upper back and neck pain, was taken off the ice on a stretcher and transported to hospital, where he was reported to be conscious and responsive.
The Heat and Aeros alternated goals in the second period – Lance Bouma and Jon Rheault for Abbotsford, and Carson McMillan and Patrick O’Sullivan for the hosts – as Houston took a 3-2 lead into the final frame.
Matt Keith, with his team-leading 15th goal of the season, knotted the score early in the third, taking a breakaway pass from Stefan Meyer and beating Khudobin.
Heat backup Lamoureux made his second consecutive start, marking the first time this season a goalie other than Leland Irving has started two in a row for Abbotsford. Lamoureux, who stopped 25 of 28 Houston shots, did some of his best work on a penalty kill in overtime. With Gord Baldwin in the box for holding, the Heat netminder robbed DiSalvatore with a right pad save.
– The Heat play their last game before the all-star break on Saturday evening, as they visit the Texas Stars.
– Abbotsford defenceman Joe Piskula was on the ice for five of the six goals scored in regulation, finishing with a +2 rating.