ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Cody Hodgson scored the game winner and added an empty-netter as the Manitoba Moose edged the Abbotsford Heat 3-1 in American Hockey League action Saturday night.
Hodgson re-directed a Bill Sweatt shot just past the midway mark of the third to secure the win for Manitoba (11-6-2). The Moose forward added his team-leading 10th of the season with just over a minute remaining.
“It was a great play by Jordan (Schroeder) and Billy (Sweatt) to get it down there,” said Hodgson of the game winner. “I still don’t know if I touched it or not to tell you the truth.”
Manitoba’s Eddie Lack and counterpart Leland Irving did a solid job keeping the game scoreless through the first period and a half. Lack finished with 28 saves for the win, while Leland stopped 32 shots for the Heat (12-9-2).
Abbotsford opened the scoring late in the first as Matt Keith beat Lack five-hole with a slapshot from the top of the face-off circle for his team-leading 10th goal of the season.
However, the lead was short lived. Just nine seconds later Kevin Clark responded for Manitoba beating Irving five-hole with a backhander.
“I think what helped us is they scored and we scored right after that,” said Moose head coach Claude Noel. “It was a big lift for our team, the goal (Abbotsford) scored was a bad change on our part, but they shot it and it went in.”
There was a scary moment near the midway mark of the third as Moose forward Aaron Volpatti caught Heat forward Mitch Wahl with his head down. Wahl laid motionless on the ice for several minutes after being carried off on a stretcher.
According to the Heat, Wahl was conscious on the way to a local hospital.
“It was the referee’s discretion I think,” said Heat head coach Jim Playfair of the hit. “The league is trying to get rid of it, the NHL is trying to get rid of head shots. He’s got a deep gash in his head. Let the league decide.”
The Moose first real chance came in the first period, as Heat new-comer Cody Lampl turned the puck over at the Abbotsford blue-line, springing Kevin Clark in all alone and forcing Irving to make a big stop with his blocker.
Lack made a huge save in the final minute of the first as Lance Bouma had an excellent chance to open the scoring for the second straight night. But the Manitoba goaltender managed to get his toe on it at the last second keeping things scoreless.
For the second straight night Irving robbed Lee Sweatt in the second period, managing to get the back of his right leg on the Moose defenceman’s shot to keep it out.