With several players away at the Calgary Flames training camp, Tyler Ruegsegger is making the most of his opportunities with the Abbotsford Heat.
Ruegsegger scored the shootout winner as the Heat defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 2-1 Wednesday night in American Hockey League play.
Ruegsegger beat Bulldogs goalie Cedrick Desjardins five-hole, while Max Reinhart and Ben Walter also scored in the shootout.
He has now scored the game-winning goal in the Heat's last three wins, including Tuesday's 3-1 win over Hamilton and a 3-1 victory over Rochester Jan. 5.
"All year he's been playing great for us," said Dustin Sylvester, who had the only Heat goal in regulation. "He gets on the forecheck hard. Last night it was nice to see him get that goal for us and tonight get that shootout winner. It's big."
Ruegsegger isn't known for his offence but it's a welcomed addition to his teammates.
"He's one of those guys who's been a surprise this year," said Abbotsford goalie Danny Taylor, who made 28 saves in the win. "He's probably one of our most improved players, just through his will and determination he's been a great player for us."
Sylvester's goal at 12:55 of the first snapped an 11-game pointless drought. He finished off a give-and-go with Walter with a one-timer over Desjardins' shoulder, giving him seven goals.
"Obviously it feels good to get that monkey off my back," said Sylvester. "It was a great play by Walter to get the puck to me in the middle. I kind of fanned on it a bit but it was a little bit of a change-up so it might have fooled him."
Hamilton's Philippe Levebvre tied the game at 2:08 of the third. Alexander Avtsin let a hard wrist shot go and Taylor kicked it right to Levebvre, who backhanded in his first goal of the season.
Desjardins finished with 26 saves for Hamilton (13-20-5), which is tied for last place in the AHL. Nathan Beaulieu and Mark Isherwood had shootout goals for the visitors.
The victory marks the first time the Heat (19-12-7) have won consecutive games since Nov. 23-24, a span of 21 games.
"It's huge," said Taylor. "I thought we played really hard the first night. We obviously needed these two points. The standings are really tight right now so we need every point we can get."
The Heat now face the Milwaukee Admirals in a two-game set beginning Saturday. They are in the midst of six games in 10 nights at home.