ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Mitch Wahl’s attention to detail paid off.
Wahl scored the shootout winner as the Abbotsford Heat edged the Adirondack Phantoms 3-2 in American Hockey League action Friday night.
Wahl beat Phantoms starter Michael Leighton high on his glove side as the Heat snapped a seven game winless streak, and scored more than one goal for the just the second time in nine games.
“I was taking a look at what the other guys were doing and what (Leighton’s) thought process was–he was backing into his net,” said Wahl, who was playing in just his second game since returning from injury. “That isn’t typically a move I would do, but since he was giving it to me I thought I’d go there.”
The loss ended the Phantoms’ four-game winning streak.
Lance Bouma and Cam Cunning both picked up goals as Abbotsford got out to a 2-0 lead, the Heat’s first two-goal lead in 11 games.
“I didn’t know that stat,” said Heat forward Jon Rheault. “That’s pretty embarrassing, but I mean it’s disappointing that we gave (the two-goal lead) up, especially the way we play–very good on defence and we definitely take pride in that.”
Bouma opened the scoring, on the power play, as he slid a shot through Leighton’s pads for his eighth of the year.
Cunning doubled the Heat’s lead as he picked up the rebound off of Keith Seabrook’s point shot and found the back of the net.
Trailing 2-0 with less than five minutes remaining in the third, the Phantoms cut into the Heat’s lead when Jonathon Kalinksi spoiled Leland Irving’s shutout bid, short-handed, as he beat the Heat starter short-side.
Then with Leighton on the bench, Adirondack tied the game 2-2 as Michael Ryan scored with just 23.4 seconds remaining to force overtime.
“We had a really good third period, I thought,” said Adirondack head coach Joe Paterson. “Then we go into the shootout, we’ve had some success in the shootout in the past couple of games so it would’ve been nice to get the two points.
“It’s a little bit disappointing tonight to not win that shootout.”
Abbotsford had two first period power plays and outshot Adirondack 10-4, but could not beat Leighton.
The opening period was a physical one as both teams exchanged several big hits.
Things boiled over near the eight-minute mark as Wahl was hit from behind by the Phantoms Andrew Rowe. Abbotsford defenceman Matt Pelech jumped in and dropped the gloves with Rowe and was two and 10 for instigating the fight.
Irving made 19 saves for his 16th win of the season while Leighton turned aside 32 shots in the loss.