The Abbotsford Heat failed to shake their offensive malaise on Wednesday, as they suffered a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Wolves on the road.
Wolves goalie Matt Climie stopped all 25 shots the Heat sent his way, and Darren Haydar’s goal at 10:02 of the first period stood up as the game-winner for the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate.
Abby goalie Barry Brust played well, turning aside 33 of 34 Chicago shots, but nevertheless suffered his first regulation defeat of the season. The Heat had been 8-0-2 in Brust’s first 10 starts; he still leads the AHL in goals against average (1.16) and save percentage (.955).
Roman Horak was the Heat’s busiest shooter, registering seven shots on goal.
Abbotsford (15-6-6, 36 points) still sits atop the Western Conference, but they’ve struggled mightily to put the puck in the net during the month of December. They haven’t scored more than three goals in a game since a 5-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Nov. 30, and they’re averaging 1.13 goals per game over their last eight contests.
The Wolves (13-9-3, 29 points) are eighth in the Western Conference.
The Heat dressed just five defencemen for Wednesday’s tilt – Steve McCarthy and Brady Lamb were unavailable due to minor injuries, and Joe Piskula sat out due to illness. Nick Tuzzolino, recalled from the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies on Monday, was pressed into immediate action, but Abbotsford was still left one blueliner shy of a full complement.
The game began at 11 a.m. Central time – it was the Wolves’ annual school day game, and 7,000 school kids were among the 8,724 fans in attendance at Allstate Arena.
• The Heat play back-to-back road games vs. the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday and the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday before dispersing for a four-day Christmas break. They reconvene in Chicago on Dec. 27 to prepare for a rematch with the Wolves on Dec. 29.