The Abbotsford Heat opened a five-game road trip with a 3-2 victory over the Rochester Americans at Blue Cross Arena on Friday evening.
Goalie Leland Irving was solid between the pipes as the Heat rallied from an early deficit. The Amerks outshot Abbotsford 38-21, but Irving came up with 36 saves in just his third start of the season.
Phil Varone staked Rochester to a 1-0 lead at 4:34 of the first period, but the Heat surged ahead on goals by Quintin Laing and Sven Baertschi in the middle frame.
The Americans had a 17-7 edge in shots in the third, and Brayden McNabb knotted the score on a power-play marker at the 3:33 mark – just the third goal the Heat’s AHL-leading penalty killers have surrendered this season.
But Paul Byron restored the Heat advantage just over five minutes later, firing the rebound off a Brady Lamb shot past Rochester goalie Connor Knapp, and Irving preserved that one-goal margin.
With the win, the Heat (10-1-3, 23 points) stayed atop the AHL’s overall standings.
• Defenceman Steve McCarthy was scratched from the lineup for the first time this season – a product of the Heat’s veteran crunch. Abbotsford can only dress five players with 320-plus games of pro experience, and have six such players. McCarthy had been the only Heat veteran to dress for all 13 games prior to Friday. Veteran centre Quintin Laing and defenceman Zach McKelvie were inserted in the lineup, while McCarthy and winger Michael Ferland sat.
• The Heat’s next stop on the road trip is Sunday at the Toronto Marlies (12 p.m. Pacific time).