Brady Lamb’s first goal as a pro got the fur flying on teddy bear toss night, but that was one of the rare highlights for the Abbotsford Heat in a penalty-riddled 3-1 loss to the Texas Stars on Friday.
Beginning in the second period and extending into the third, the Heat gave the Stars six consecutive power plays. The visitors capitalized on one of those man-advantage chances, and rode the momentum to two more tallies in the middle frame.
“Penalties were a big issue today,” Heat defenceman Joe Piskula noted. “It forces a lot of your top guys to play a lot of big minutes, and the third and fourth lines aren’t getting out there, so they’re cold on the bench. It just ruins the flow of the game.”
With Heat blueliner Zach McKelvie serving an extra minor penalty for roughing after an altercation with Texas forward Francis Wathier, Reilly Smith opened the scoring for the Stars at the five-minute mark of the second.
Lamb drew the Heat even with his milestone goal. T.J. Brodie dangled his way down the right wing before throwing a backhand pass into the slot, where a hard-charging Lamb stepped into a slap shot that beat Stars goalie Cristopher Nilstorp.
The goal triggered an avalanche of stuffed animals from the stands, as is the custom on teddy bear toss night, and they were collected for donation to the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau.
The Stars, though, would strike twice more before the period was over, courtesy Taylor Vause and Cody Eakin. Texas out-shot Abbotsford 18-5 in the frame.
Nilstorp would keep the Heat at bay, turning aside 20 of 21 shots on the night. Danny Taylor, his Heat counterpart, stopped 24 of 27 shots.
Heat head coach Troy Ward felt his team fell victim to the lethargy that can infect a team playing its first game back home after a road trip.
“We were slow mentally,” he analyzed. “Parts of our physical game I didn’t mind at times, but we were slow mentally. We were on our heels.”
• Heat forwards Akim Aliu and Krys Kolanos returned to the lineup after being sidelined due to injury. Both players finished with a -2 rating.
• The Heat assigned forwards Adam Estoclet, David Eddy and Michael Ferland to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies on Friday morning.
• Abbotsford (14-5-6) and Texas (13-8-3) renew hostilities on Saturday (7 p.m., Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre).