ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Jon Rheault scored the shootout winner and Leland Irving picked up his league-leading 11th goal as the Abbotsford Heat doubled up the Manitoba Moose 2-1 in American Hockey League play Friday.
Rheault appeared to momentarily lose control of the puck while on the shootout and then managed to get a shot off high glove-side on Moose starter Eddie Lack.
Abbotsford’s Lance Bouma opened the scoring early in the second by poking a loose puck past Lack.
Irving took over from there as the Heat (12-8-2) were outshot 15-7 in the second period.
Mario Bliznak and Jordan Schroeder had an excellent chance 2-on-1 to tie things at one, but could not get the puck past Irving.
“I’ve been able to get into a bit of a groove since I’ve been playing so much here,” said Irving. “I can’t take all the credit. Guys were diving in front of pucks, at the end there Bouma I think almost took one in the face—he had a huge block for us.
“It’s just the whole team coming together and putting in a huge effort.”
The Moose (10-6-2) had a 5-on-3 power play for nearly two minutes where Irving made a highlight-reel save. While down and out after moving cross-crease for a Cody Hodgson chance, the Heat starter got back into position to rob Lee Sweatt of a scoring chance from the point.
“(The puck) came back around and I was just going just under the crossbar—he just said ‘Thank you very much look what I found,'” said Sweatt. “He played very well, my hat goes off to him.”
Manitoba finally solved Irving on a power play in the third when Kevin Connauton’s point shot got through numerous bodies and found the back of the net.
Hodgson nearly made it 2-1 late in the third when his slapshot rung off the far post.
“We had a lot of shots and a lot of quality opportunities,” said Hodgson. “It was not like we were shooting from anywhere, we had a lot of good opportunities right in the slot and (Irving) made some pretty unbelievable saves.”
Overtime solved nothing as each team exchanged three shots.
Irving made 39 saves in the win while Lack turned aside 24 shots in the loss.