(CP) — Barry Brust may be in a job-share program this season but he’s made the best of every chance he’s been given.
Brust made 29 saves on Tuesday to preserve the Abbotsford Heat’s 3-0 win over the Lake Erie Monsters in American Hockey League action.
It was the 18th shutout in Brust’s AHL career and his second of the season. He has allowed just one goal in his three games played this year. He has been sharing the crease with Danny Taylor (seven games) and Leland Irving (two games).
"It’s a nice feeling," said Brust of his stellar 0.33 goals-against average and 0.987 save percentage. "It’s a product more of the way the team’s played. We’ve got some pretty lucky bounces. The games have been pretty tight, so that always has guys blocking shots and diving in front of pucks a little more.
"It’s a nice little run and hopefully we can continue it."
The 29-year-old goalie has earned the adoration of his teammates not just for his reliability but also his unique aggressive style and his outgoing personality.
"He’s been outstanding," said left winger Sven Baertschi. "It’s a lot of fun to watch him. He’s a special goalie. He’s doing well. It’s always great when you can rely on a great goalie back there.
"If you make mistakes he makes sure there aren’t any goals for them."
Brust signed with Abbotsford in the off-season to challenge last year’s post-season starter (Taylor) and the Calgary Flames’ top prospect (Irving) for the starting job. Having played for Heat head coach Troy Ward in the past, fitting in the dressing room has been an easy transition.
"There’s obviously a familiarity with the coaching staff that I’ve had before and it doesn’t take me too long usually to get involved with the guys and feel like a big part of the team," said Brust. "As tough as it is having three goalies, it’s also two other guys that have things in common with you. Them being great people, it’s been easy to mesh with them."
"He played extremely hard," said Ward. "It was one of the better skating games Krys has had for our team this year. So it was important for Krys. Anytime you have passion and emotion in hockey usually it results in something positive for you. Krys was dialled-in from the get-go."
Kolanos now holds Abbotsford’s franchise record for career goals with 34, surpassing Cam Cunning. He joined the Heat on a tryout early last season and has since signed a two-way contract with the Calgary Flames. The Heat are now in their fourth season.
Abbotsford is tied with the Charlotte Checkers with 19 points for first in the Western Conference, leapfrogging Lake Erie (9-5-0-0).
Sami Aittokallio made 36 saves in net for the Monsters.
"If I had to pick a star of the game I would have picked their goalie," said Ward. "He was outstanding, especially low. He was extremely quick. He did give us rebounds but he took away the lower part of the net consistently all night long. My guess is the way they’ve rotated their goalies, I don’t know if we’ll see him back tomorrow but regardless we need to get to rebounds."
Abbotsford outshot Lake Erie 14-9 in the first period but only had one quality scoring chance. Carter Bancks one-timed a pass from Tyler Ruegsegger in the slot but Aittokallio kicked his pad out to make the stop with about four minutes to go in the opening frame.
The two got together for another scoring chance just under three minutes into the second period. Carter took a shot on net and the rebound came right to Ruegsegger in front but the Lakewood, Colo., native’s shot was stopped by Aittokallio, keeping the game scoreless.
The Heat kept up the offensive pressure all period. First, Baertschi was stopped on a breakaway with about eight minutes to go in the frame and then a moment later Abbotsford finally got one past Aittokallio when Kolanos scored.
The Monsters best chance to beat Brust was a quick one-timer by Karl Stollery from the slot but the Heat’s goalie snared the puck with his glove, keeping his shutout bid intact with 10 minutes remaining in the game.