With goalie Leland Irving making his first start of the season on Saturday, the Abbotsford Heat suffered a 4-3 shootout defeat to the Lake Erie Monsters.
Irving had been a spectator for the Heat’s first five games of the season, as Danny Taylor and Barry Brust carried the load. He got his chance on Saturday, and helped the Heat secure a single point despite being out-shot 33-20.
The two teams traded goals in the first period, with Brad Malone and Bryan Lerg scoring for Lake Erie and Dustin Sylvester and Krys Kolanos replying for Abbotsford.
Heat centre Ben Street gave his team its first lead of the night at 3:58 of the second, but the Monsters’ Mike Sgarbossa levelled the score at 12:20 of the third.
The shootout was tied 1-1 through five rounds, with Abby’s Roman Horak and Lerg scoring. In the sixth round, Sgarbossa notched the game-winner, while Street was stopped by Monsters goalie Calvin Pickard.
Horak had his season-opening five-game goal streak snapped, but he extended his point streak with an assist on Kolanos’s goal. Rookie phenom Sven Baertschi had another impressive performance, picking up two assists to give him a team-high eight points (three goals, five assists) in six games.
Ben Walter, the Heat’s leading scorer going in, was scratched for the first time this season. He was a casualty of AHL veteran restrictions – the Heat have six players who have played more than 320 professional games, and are only allowed to dress five.
The Monsters had a 6-1 edge in power plays, but the Heat continued their penalty-kill proficiency, snuffing all six opportunities. They have not allowed an opponent to score on the power play this season, going a perfect 25-for-25 to lead the league in that department.
The Heat (4-0-2) have yet to suffer a regulation loss this season, with both their defeats coming via the shootout. They wrap up their three-game road swing against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon.