ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Wins in the American Hockey League are things to be treasured by Matt Keetley.
Keetley stopped Adam Estoclet in the shootout to clinch a 7-6 victory for the Houston Aeros over the Abbotsford Heat on Tuesday afternoon.
Keetley earned his first AHL win in more than two years after coming into the game in relief of Joe Fallon, who was pulled after allowing three goals on four shots.
"You're not sure (how to feel)," said Keetley. "I just wanted to be solid. I had some jitters."
Keetley was acquired on loan from the ECHL on Monday because Darcy Kuemper is injured and Matt Hackett is with the Minnesota Wild. Fallon was also playing his first game with the Aeros.
"It's tough for these guys losing both their goalies," said Keetley, who played the last two seasons with Abbotsford. "We've got to try to come in and shut the door and get some wins for us."
Keetley stopped 13-of-16 shots and 3-of-4 shootout attempts in about 50 minutes of action. It wasn't the prettiest victory but Houston came back from four one-goal deficits ? and blew a two-goal lead in the third ? to earn the win.
"The guys here worked so hard all game," said Keetley. "They really battled for me and Fallon today and that's what the win was all about."
His last AHL action came almost a year ago though he had been with the Bakersfield Condors this year.
"I went down to Bakersfield this year to work hard and get my game back," said Keetley. "It's been great for me."
Jeff Taffe scored the shootout winner, while the Aeros also got shootout goals from Kris Foucault and C.J. Stretch.
Chad Rau had two goals and an assist in regulation, including the tying goal with less than a minute to play. Jon DiSalvatore had a goal and three assists for the Aeros (27-18-12), while Chris Clackson, Foucault and Chay Genoway also scored.
Hugh Jessiman scored twice for Abbotsford and added an assist. Ben Walter and Clay Wilson each had a goal and two assists for Abbotsford (31-22-6), while Ryan Howse and James Martin had singles.
Abbotsford's Danny Taylor made 10 saves in relief of starter Leland Irving, who allowed five goals on 20 shots.
The game was more tragedy than comedy for the Heat.
"I thought the end was very fitting," said Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward. "The way we managed the game I didn't think we deserved even a point."
The scoring began just 1:37 into the game when Martin's wrist shot from the high slot beat Fallon.
Houston replied at 10:44 of the period with Clackson scoring his first goal of the season. But the Heat regained the lead when Wilson scored on a slapshot from the point.
Rau scored 10 seconds later to tie it 2-2 before Jessiman's shot from the top of the circle beat Fallon at 14:28 and bring Keetley into the game
Just 48 seconds later, DiSalvatore recorded his 21st goal of the season.
Foucault beat Irving after taking a breakaway pass from Cuma at 3:28 of the second.
The Aeros capitalized on a two-man power play just over eight minutes into the period when Genoway's one-timer got past Irving, who was pulled in favour of Taylor.
Howse narrowed Houston's lead to one at the halfway mark of the period, redirecting Ben Walter's shot from the point.
Jessiman slipped the puck past Keetley 9:25 into the third to tie it for the hosts while Walter completed the comeback just over a minute later, firing in a wrist shot.
With the 23.7 seconds left and the goalie pulled, Houston's Rau tied it to force overtime.
"I hadn't won here in, well, I didn't win at all last year," said Keetley. "It was one of those things where I wanted to come in and just get the W."
Despite the loss, Ward was able to appreciate Keetley's return to the AHL.
"He made the saves in the shootout," said Ward. "Matt's a good kid and was a good part of our organization last year. As a coach, you're always happy for players' success. I'm real happy for him."
NOTES: Heat leading scorer Krys Kolanos, Guillaume Desbiens, and Greg Nemisz were all called up by the Calgary Flames on Monday ... Tuesday morning's game was attended by school-aged children and drew a larger than average crowd of 5,802.