By Mike Archer. Abbotsford Heat netminder Leland Irving who stepped up to face the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night did Heat fans proud by being the only reason the Canucks didn’t clobber the Flames by a more embarrassing score.
If it hadn’t been for Irving the Flames would have probably lost by twice as many points. Irving, who has had a stellar run with the Flames’ farm team, the Abbotsford Heat, has been a mainstay of the Heat’s excellent performance on the ice. With the Flames’ regular goalie, Miikka Kiprusoff, off due to a sprained medial collateral ligament to his knee, Irving has had a chance to show the Flames what Heat fans have known all along – he’s a top-notch goalie on whom the team can rely.
Losing by a score of only 5 – 1 was an amazing feat in a game that saw the Flames crumple after a strong and even first period where Irving kept them in the game with some amazing saves.
According to the Calgary Herald, “Yeah, they worked harder than us,” the Calgary Flames captain murmured in the uneasy quiet of the visitors’ dressing at Rogers Arena. “We weren’t very good. We weren’t very sharp.”
After the first period, though Irving remained outstanding, the Flames offense and defense both collapsed leaving Irving to battle a rejuvenated Canucks squad on his own.
According to the Herald, “Leland Irving kept us in the game,” said head coach Bob Hartley. “Without him, it would have been much worse than this.”