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Walter leads Heat in rally over Aeros

The Canadian Press

3/2/2013 1:14:28 AM

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- The Abbotsford Heat relied on veteran Ben Walter for a spark on Friday.

Walter scored two power-play goals in 78 seconds in the third as Abbotsford rallied past the Houston Aeros 4-2 on Friday in American Hockey League action.

Down 2-1 entering the third period, the veteran centre came up big with his first multi-goal game of the season and his first scores since Feb. 16.

"Anytime you make plays in tight games, rarely do you find it to be a young player," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "Walter made two huge plays. Wally, after struggling in the first two periods and getting moved down to a different line had some energy and a little magic."

At 3:00 of the final period Houston goalie Matt Hackett stretched out to cover a loose puck in a goal-mouth scramble but Roman Horak quickly slid the puck over to Walter at the right side of the net leaving him with an open net for his 11th of the season.

Then the Heat took the lead just five seconds after Johan Larsson took a slashing penalty. Brett Carson slid the puck over to Walter at the top of the circle and he ripped a shot that beat Hackett with Tyler Ruegsegger screening.

"I got a couple good bounces," said Walter. "We've been working hard on our power play all week in practice and when we were losing we were getting chances. Sometimes you have to stay with it."

Those two goals came after the Heat went scoreless on 27 straight power-play opportunities.

"I don't know what turned," said Ward. "I don't know that anything magical happened. Maybe we got a little hungrier."

Andy Bohmach and Brett Olson also scored for Abbotsford (27-22-8), who snapped a seven-game winless streak. Leland Irving made 29 saves in the win.

Despite earning two NHL victories during a call-up with the Flames, Irving hadn't won an AHL game since Nov. 16, a span of six games.

"He's had three solid games since he's been back here," said Ward. "In Chicago he gave us a chance to win, then the other night (1-0 loss to Charlotte) they scored with under five minutes left. It seemed to be coming like a wave and it's a monkey off Leland's back."

Though Irving would obviously rather be in Calgary, where he is 2-1-1 this season, he still relishes his opportunities in the AHL.

"I don't have very many NHL wins," said Irving. "I enjoy each and every one that much more. I'm approaching 100 in the American league. I want to be a top-level goalie down here and prove to myself and everyone else that I can do that night in, night out."

Justin Fontaine and Stephane Veilleux scored for the visiting Aeros (28-21-7) while Hackett made 21 saves in the losing effort.

The Aeros were 7-1-0 in their last eight but couldn't start the four-game road trip with a victory.

Houston opened the scoring at 15:47 of the first with this second goal of the season. Steven Kampfer threw the puck at the net from a bad angle and Veilleux spun around to swipe the puck around Irving.

Abbotsford tied the game less than two minutes later.

Bombach deflected Chris Breen's one-timer from the face-off dot past Hackett for his first AHL goal. The left winger has played for four different AHL teams but took 21 games over three seasons to net his first goal and just his fourth point.

"I thought for a call up and a guy who's supposed to give us good minutes, he did his jobaand I was happy that he got a goal. It's important for a young man coming up from the ECHL."

Late in the second, the Aeros got a power play after Carter Bancks took a run at Steven Kampfer behind the Houston net and they made the Heat pay. Fontaine skated to the low slot and picked the top right corner as he fell to the ice, giving him a team-leading 14 goals on the year.

Then Abbotsford scored their two power-play goals in the third to take the lead for the first time in the game.

"We kind of let up a bit, the last five-to-seven minutes of the second," said Walter. "But we knew we were in the game. Guys worked hard to draw some penalties and we were able to capitalize."

The Heat had to kill off two late penalties to Zach McKelvie, including the latter with the goalie pulled for a six-on-four advantage.

However, Olson put the game on ice with a short-handed empty-net goal.

"You can take the monkey off the back," said Irving. "The guys have been playing great. There have been many nights we deserved wins but things didn't go our way. It was nice to see that empty netter go in at the end."

Abbotsford finished 2 for 6 on the power play, while Houston was 1 for 7.

The two teams face each other again Saturday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.