Chasing down the Western Conference’s North Division lead, the Abbotsford Heat rattled off four straight wins in the last week to draw even with the Toronto Marlies.
Allowing just three goals in that four-game span, Heat goaltenders Barry Brust and Danny Taylor have been on fire.
Hosting the Hamilton Bulldogs last Tuesday, Taylor was less than welcoming. The 26-year-old kicked out 14 of 15 shots faced while defenseman Mike Matczak added a goal and an assist to beat the Bulldogs 3-1. Taylor was even more impressive Wednesday, turning aside 28 of 29 Bulldog shots while Tyler Ruegsegger’s shootout winner paced Abbotsford to a 2-1 win.
The momentum of back-to-back wins continued into another back-to-back set with the Milwaukee Admirals.
In his return to the Heat, Brett Carson scored what would hold up as the game-winner on the power play midway through the second period and Taylor made 24 saves to beat the Admirals 2-1.
Making his first start since January 4th, Brust subbed in for Taylor with equally successful results. Stopping all 30 shots faced, the former Calgary Hitmen netminder recorded his fourth shutout of the season and both Carson and Krys Kolanos scored for the second consecutive game to pace Abbotsford to their fourth consecutive victory.
The Heat improved to 21-12-3-4 and currently share the North Division lead with the Marlies at 49 points.
CARSON HEATING UP ABBOTSFORD
Playing 34 games for the Heat last season, Brett Carson had just two goals.
He’s already two-for-two this season.
Assigned to Abbotsford by the Calgary Flames Friday, Carson scored the game-winning goal in the Heat’s victory over Milwaukee Saturday and added another Sunday against the Admirals.
“Any time you play you want to obviously make a contribution, help the team win,” Carson said in a press conference after Saturday’s game. “It was good just to get into a game even if it is down here. Obviously everyone’s goal is to be up in the NHL but this is where I am right now and I’ve got to make the most of it.”
NO RUST ON ALL-STAR BRUST
Starting his first game since January 4th against the Admirals Sunday, kicking out 30 shots for a 2-0 victory.
It was Brust’s first win since December 15th.
“It’s been a struggle for me lately,” Brust told media after Sunday’s game. “I think that’s probably why I’ve had two weeks without playing. I needed this one tonight. I was in a lot of close games and my last name didn’t go so well so it’s nice to get back on the winning side of things. I felt pretty good out there.”
Despite the rough patch, Brust has enjoyed a spectacular season. The 29-year old is 9-5-2 this season with a 1.44 goals against average and .948 save percentage. His play has earned him a trip to the AHL All-Star Game.
“It’s nice to be rewarded and it speaks to our team and how good we are defensively,” said Brust, who will be joined by captain Quintin Laing. “Bad defensive teams, their goalies don’t have very good numbers. It shows how well we are defensively and how well we play defensively.”
The Calgary Flames sent the Heat some re-enforcements, shuttling Carson and returning Paul Byron to Abbotsford Friday. The moves came a day after the Flames assigned Chris Breen and Ben Street to the Heat.
TJ Brodie and Roman Horak, who spent the NHL lockout in Abbotsford, remain in Calgary.
To make room, the Heat reassigned forwards David Eddy, Adam Estoclet and Mitch Wahl to the Utah Grizzlies of the East Coast Hockey League.