Fast start boosts Heat past Bulldogs

The Abbotsford Heat raced out to a big first-period lead, then fended off the Hamilton Bulldogs down the stretch for a 4-3 road victory at Copps Coliseum on Tuesday evening.

The Abbotsford Heat raced out to a big first-period lead, then fended off the Hamilton Bulldogs down the stretch for a 4-3 road victory at Copps Coliseum on Tuesday evening.

Ryan Stone, John Armstrong and Jon Rheault tallied in the first 10 minutes of regulation to give the Heat a 3-0 lead, but Hamilton battled back to make it 3-2 on goals by Aaron Palushaj and Andrew Conboy.

Bryan Cameron notched the eventual game-winner at 2:41 of the third period, tipping Gord Baldwin’s point shot past Bulldogs goalie Curtis Sanford on the power play.

The Bulldogs got back to within one on Gabriel Dumont’s goal at the 12:13 mark, but Heat goalie Leland Irving stood his ground to earn his AHL-leading 21st win of the season.

Irving stopped 21 of 24 shots in the victory, which drew the Heat (24-22-2-5) even with the Toronto Marlies for fourth place in the North Division with 55 points. Hamilton (28-17-1-4) sits one point back of the Manitoba Moose for first in the division.

Abbotsford improved to 4-4-0-1 on a season-high 10-game road trip, which wraps on Wednesday against the Rochester Americans. The Heat return home for a Friday-Saturday set against the Toronto Marlies at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.