ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – The Abbotsford Heat have had trouble scoring this season, so when low-scoring defenceman Matt Pelech got his first goal of the season, they made sure it stood up.
Pelech’s first-period goal accounted for all the game’s offence as Abbotsford beat the Lake Erie Monsters 1-0 in American Hockey League action Wednesday.
Pelech’s goal held up thanks to solid goaltending by Leland Irving, who stopped 23 shots for his second shutout of the season.
“I’m good for one goal a year, so I’ve got my quota,” Pelech said. “Pucks on the net. That’s one of our main focuses right now. I was just trying to get the puck hard on net, hoping there’d be a scrum or a lucky bounce.”
Irving felt his most important save came in the finals seconds when he got a stick on a deflected point shot to preserve the shutout and victory.
“We had trouble putting the puck in the net but it seems that’s the kind of games we’re winning these days,” Irving said.
Lance Bouma’s initial shot missed wide, but the puck caromed all the way around to Pelech at the point. Monsters goalie Jason Bacashihua got a piece of Pelech’s shot with his shoulder, but it trickled across the goal-line.
“I thought Matt made a great play to get the puck up and above the forecheck…to start the play, out of the zone,” said Abbotsford head coach Jim Playfair. “Then he joined the play and the rocket hit the shoulder and found its way in.”
Bacashihua made 33 tough saves in the loss for Lake Erie (12-10-6). He was busiest in the first period, when he made 18 saves on 19 shots.
“Bacashihua stood on his head,” Irving said. “I knew it was going to be tight.”
It was Lake Erie’s first regulation loss in its last seven games.
Abbotsford (14-11-3) also beat Lake Erie Tuesday night in 3-2 in a shootout, snapping a four game losing streak.
“I felt in the third period that Irving gave us a chance to win,” Playfair said. “He was real solid. In the last seven games we have five goals five-on-five so we understand that every goal is an impact goal.”