ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - The Abbotsford Heat turned to goaltender Barry Brust to cool off the Chicago Wolves.
Brust made 25 saves in his first start of the season as Abbotsford beat Chicago 4-1 on Saturday to give the Wolves their first loss of the American Hockey League season.
Brust signed in the off-season to compete with incumbents Leland Irving and Danny Taylor for the starting job in Abbotsford (3-0-1). Taylor played the first three games and after Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Wolves Brust got the call.
"When we looked at our goaltenders, the way it stacked up, it seemed like the logical choice," said Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward. "He's a very athletic guy, very impressive for a big guy."
The Swan River, Man., native is an seven-year AHL veteran and played 11 games for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings in 2006-07, but he spent all of last season in Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
"The first game of the year to play is always hard," said Brust. "It was a hard one to get through and I got some lucky bounces."
Brust turned some heads with an aggressive play on Wolves forward Nathan Longpre near the end of the second period that sent him into the boards and all game he was battling at the top of the crease. He led the DEL's Staubing Tiger's last season with 109 penalty minutes.
"I feel one of my strengths is my hockey IQ," said Brust. "Certain situations call for aggressiveness."
He does have a reputation on his team, however positive it is.
"Barry's a bit of a different style of goalie," said Heat forward Carter Bancks. "I learned that right away in our first scrimmage we had. I was on a breakaway and he came flying out with a poke check out to the hashmarks and stole the puck from me."
Dustin Sylvester recorded the winner, snapping a 1-1 tie at 8:44 of the third period.
Sylvester began the play by centring the puck to Ben Walter in the low slot. Walter spun around and fired it towards the net where Sylvester tipped it by goalie Eddie Lack for his second of the season. Linemate Sven Baertschi earned the second assist.
Sylvester has found a place on the top line with the young Swiss star Baertschi and the veteran Walter.
"(Sylvester) has great stick skills and he understands the game very well," said Ward. "For a little guy, he's going to sink his teeth into you. When he plays that way he's a great complement to that line. They play at a very high pace, those guys.
"There's a lot of short little plays, and they're on the same page, so Sly compliments Sven very well."
Baertschi and Roman Horak added insurance goals for Abbotsford after Bancks got the Heat on the board in the second period.
Zack Kassian was the lone scorer as Chicago suffered its first loss of the young season in front of a rare sellout crowd of 7,046 fans.
Kassian extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, while Lack stopped 37 shots in the loss.
"There were some bad bounces but I gave them a goal in the second too," said Lack.
When Sylvester scored it marked the first time this year that the Wolves had trailed in a game.
"In the second period we kind of got away from our game," said Kassian. "They took over the momentum, got more confident and brought it over to the third."
The Wolves' NHL affiliate the Vancouver Canucks are just down the road from Abbotsford, and are often a good draw at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
Chicago opened the scoring nine minutes into the game when Yann Sauve caused a turnover along the boards. Kassian picked up the loose puck, skated untouched into the slot and wired a shot blocker side.
The Heat had a few scoring chances early in the second period to build some momentum but it was a giveaway by Lack that led to the tying goal at 5:10.
The Swedish netminder came out of his net to play a puck but cleared the puck right to the Heat's Adam Estoclet at the blue line. Estoclet waited Bancks to get open at the side of the net and the Marysville, B.C., native spun around slide the puck past a sprawling defenceman.
"Adam made a beautiful play to me," said Bancks. "I was fortunate enough to finish it. After that goal we just built and played an outstanding last two-thirds of the game."
After Sylvester's goal gave the Heat the lead Baertschi made it 3-1 at 12:44. T.J. Brodie's point shot missed wide but Walter directed it to Baertschi in the slot and the Swiss star one-timed it top shelf for his third of the season.
"We just kept battling and it's too bad they got the third one because it put an end to our push," said Lack.