Sven Baertschi scored a goal and added an assist in his American Hockey League debut as the Abbotsford Heat defeated the Peoria Rivermen 4-1 in the season opener Friday night.
Baertschi, who scored three goals in five games during a brief callup to the Calgary Flames last season, joined the Heat and made an immediate impact, setting up a second period power-play goal and scoring a pretty goal moments later.
Abbotsford also had a goal and an assist from Ben Walter. Walter was second on the club with 59 points last year.
Roman Horak and Ben Street also scored for Abbotsford (1-0-0), who returned to the North Division this season after a year in the West Division.
Danny Taylor — making a start ahead of Leland Irving and Barry Brust, goaltenders with more NHL experience — stopped 24 shots in the win.
Jake Allen made 10 saves on 14 shots before Mike McKenna in the third period.
Peoria (0-1-0) had a chance to get on the board first when they had a five-on-three power play for 77 seconds midway through the first period but their best chance to score was Derek Nesbitt’s wrist shot from the slot that went off the glove of Taylor and off the post.
Walter opened the scoring at 10:47 of the first. Max Reinhart threw the puck towards the net from behind the goal-line and Walter batted it in. Steve McCarthy also assisted.
Taylor made a number of key saves including one off the St. Louis Blues’ first-rounder Jaden Schwartz in close on a power play.
After being outshot 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes Abbotsford scored on the first shot of the second to double their lead.
Horak corralled a bouncing puck and squeezed the puck between the legs of Allen at 1:14. Chris Breen and Quintin Laing assisted.
With Riverman forward Sergey Andrononv in the box for high-sticking Reinhart made it 3-0 at 14:05 for the Heat. Street one-timed a great cross-ice feed from Baertschi giving him his first goal in an Abbotsford uniform. Laing picked up the second assist.
Two minutes later Baertschi was sent in on a partial breakaway by Walter, deked, and slid it around the pad of Allen, making it 4-0.
Taylor made what was perhaps the most spectacular save of the night when he slid across the crease to rob Nesbitt’s one-timer at the side of the net, keeping his shutout temporarily intact.
However, at 9:02 of the third Peluso skated just inside the face-off dot and beat Taylor low to the blocker side.
Notes: Due to a surplus of veterans, one of the healthy scratches was Krys Kolanos, the leading Abbotsford scorer last season.