ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Matt Keith’s shootut goal might have looked like an adventure, but he knew exactly what he wanted to do.
Keith scored the shootout winner and Leland Irving picked up his league-leading 12th as the Abbotsford Heat ended a four-game losing skid with a 3-2 win over the Lake Erie Monsters in American Hockey League action Tuesday night.
Keith appeared to lose control of the puck, but recovered and managed to get a backhand shot past Monsters goaltender John Grahame at the last moment.
“I just went in, I didn’t really think about it too much before–its good to go third or fourth,” Keith said. “(Grahame’s) kind of an old-school goalie, he likes to stand up, so I tried to freeze him a little bit and just went backhand.”
Carter Bancks opened the scoring for the Heat (13-11-3) when his shot bounced off Grahame and went just over the goal-line.
“It was nice to get the win, first game back, I was a little rusty off the start,” said Bancks who returned after missing nine games with a an upper body injury. “It was nice to get on the board early–it gave me confidence.”
Lake Erie (12-9-6) quickly responded as Matthew Ford put a cross-ice feed from Patrick Rissmiller past Irving.
Stefan Meyer gave the Heat their second lead of the game as he picked up the rebound off the end boards and put it past Grahame for his second of the season.
Ryan Stoa responded with less than two-minutes remaining, finishing off a give-and-go with Julian Talbot.
“I just thought we looked a little sluggish,” Quinn said. “We were half a step behind–one of the things we try to do is be a team that skates and puts the pressure on the other team.
“I didn’t think we were able to do that consistently throughout the game.”
Grahame finished the night with 35 saves while Irving turned aside 21.
The Heat went 0-for-6 on the power play, including two 5-on-3 opportunities, while the Monsters were held scoreless on their lone chance.
The discrepancy in calls surprised Lake Erie head coach David Quinn.
“I can’t explain it, you’ll have to ask the referees,” Quinn said. “Our penalty kill has been good all year, we were good again tonight, but you need luck when you kill 5-on-3s.”