Sports

Irving back on track as Heat edge Canucks farm team

Heat defenceman Clay Wilson moves the puck out of harm
Heat defenceman Clay Wilson moves the puck out of harm's way against Nathan Longpre of the Chicago Wolves.
— image credit: Steve Woltmann / Chicago Wolves

The Abbotsford Heat's confidence-sapping three-game losing streak is history, as they edged the Chicago Wolves 3-2 in a shootout on Friday evening at Allstate Arena.

Goalie Leland Irving led the charge against the Vancouver Canucks' top farm team, turning aside 28 of 30 shots in regulation and overtime, and stopping four of five attempts in the shootout.

The performance represented a nice bounce-back for Irving, who had been pulled in two of his previous three starts. The low point came Tuesday against the Milwaukee Admirals, when he allowed five goals on nine shots in an 8-3 defeat.

The Wolves got to Irving early on Friday, building a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes on goals by Tim Miller and Kevin Connauton. But the Heat keeper was lights-out from that point, and his teammates rallied to knot the score on second-period goals by Ben Walter and Brendan Mikkelson.

In the shootout, the Heat got goals from Krys Kolanos and Paul Byron, while Mark Mancari was the lone Wolves player to solve Irving. The Heat are 4-0 in shootouts this season, thanks in large part to Irving, who has stopped 16 of 18 attempts.

The Heat improved to 14-8-1-0, good for third in the AHL's West Division, while Chicago (9-7-0-3) is fourth in the Midwest.

ICE CHIPS:

• Friday's game marked the Heat debuts for Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Brett Carson, both of whom were assigned to Abbotsford by the Calgary Flames this week. Carson, a defenceman, is on a conditioning stint after recovering from a back injury, and registered a shot on goal and picked up a pair of minor penalties against the Wolves. PL3, a tough-guy winger who led the AHL in penalty minutes (334) last season with the Albany Devils, skated on the fourth line with Gaelan Patterson and Raitis Ivanans.

• The Heat signed goalie Danny Taylor to an AHL contract on Friday morning, and he dressed as Irving's backup against the Wolves. Taylor, a seventh-round pick by the L.A. Kings in 2004, spent the bulk of last season with the Hamburg Freezers in the German elite league.

• The Heat are in the midst of a three-games-in-three-days gauntlet – they visit the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday, then return to Chicago on Sunday for a matinee with the Wolves.

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