- School Twinning Helps Bring Cultures, Faiths TogetherPosted 20 hours ago
- Abby Black Score Early And Often SaturdayPosted 3 days ago
- Cycling4Diversity – The Journey Begins AgainPosted 4 days ago
- JAAZPosted 5 days ago
- Jason Brown Wins Awards In National Photography CompetitionPosted 7 days ago
- Abbotsford Slo-Pitch StandingsPosted 7 days ago
- UPDATE Missing Person Blossom De Bruin LocatedPosted 8 days ago
- SWAT Reading Skills Program A SuccessPosted 8 days ago
Sports: Bring On The Heat – Home Opener Tonight!
From The Abbotsford Heat. The Abbotsford Heat will open their home schedule with a date on Friday night versus the Rockford Ice Hogs, AHL affiliate club of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. [Click On Image For Full Story]
Heat Head Coach Jim Playfair wants the AESC to be the worst place in the AHL for the opposition to play. With an 18-14-4-4 home record, the Heat had the lowest number of home wins of any AHL playoff team. “Our opposition shows up in Abbotsford, they stay in a great hotel, eat super meals, enjoy our scenic part of the world and then walk into our building relaxed and ready to take us on,” laments Playfair. “While we cannot control everything before they get to our arena, when they walk into our house, I want them to know it is going to be a miserable experience and that the opposition is going to pay a price to get a win in Abbotsford.”
This Game: The Heat is currently 2-1 on the season and tied for first place in the North Division. Rockford is 1-2 on the season and is log-jammed within the West Division, with six of eight teams tied with two points. Last season, the Ice Hogs posted a 3-1 record versus the Heat, including 1-1 here in Abbotsford.
Rockford comes into this game having surrendered 15 goals thru the first three games, winning just one of their first three games. The 15 goals allowed is the most allowed in the AHL so far this season. The good news for Rockford is that they have spread their nine goals scored this season among nine different players, so there is some early depth amongst their team.
Abbotsford is fresh off their first three game road trip of the season. The AHL’s youngest team showed an enthusiasm that was contagious throughout the entire line-up. Carter Bancks leads the points parade for the Heat, scoring five points (1G-4A) in his first three games of the season. Matt Keith, Cam Cunning and Greg Nemisz have all posted two goals thru their first three games, while Jon Rheault has set up three goals so far.
Game One: ABBOTSFORD HEAT 3 GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 (F/SO)
GRAND RAPIDS MI – Aldergrove’s Matt Keith scored with just 1:19 to play and Burnaby’s Kris Chucko notched the shootout winner as the Abbotsford Heat came from behind to beat the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 before 10834 fans at the Van Andel Arena in Western Michigan. Rookie Carter Bancks turned in a fine performance in Game One for the Heat this season. The Marysville BC resident notched his first goal of the season in the opening period, plus added an assist on the Keith tying goal to complete a two point night. Leland Irving was the story between the pipes for the Heat on this night. Irving, a first round pick of the Calgary Flames back in 2006, turned aside 36 of 38 shots in regulation, plus three of four shots in the shootout to earn his first win of the season.
Game Two: ABBOTSFORD HEAT 2 MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS 6
MILWAUKEE WI – The Milwaukee Admirals scored six unanswered goals to erase a 2-0 first period deficit en route to a 6-2 win over the Abbotsford Heat in AHL action on Saturday night in Wisconsin. Linus Klasen and Matt Halischuk scored two goals apiece for the Admirals, who also received goals from Nick Spaling and Mark Van Guilder in the victory. Abbotsford had opened the scoring with two goals in the first period. A short handed tally from rookie Greg Nemisz, his first in the American Hockey League, and a power play goal from Powell River’s Cam Cunning staked the Heat to a 2-0 lead after twenty minutes of play. However, four second period goals by the Admirals lifted the Milwaukee squad to a home opening victory in front of 4797 fans. Leland Irving allowed all six goals on 28 Milwaukee shots to take the loss, while North Vancouver’s Mark Dekanich turned aside 22 of 24 shots to pick up the win.
Game Three: TORONTO ONT – Powell River BC product Cam Cunning scored the game winning goal with under four minutes to play as the Abbotsford Heat edged the Toronto Marlies 3-2 in AHL action on Monday afternoon in Toronto. Cunning snapped a 2-2 tie by taking a perfect feed from Mitch Wahl and beating Marlies goalie Jussi Rynnas for the game winner. Aldergrove’s Matt Keith added his second goal of the season as did forward Greg Nemisz in the victory, while Leland Irving rebounded from a 6-2 loss on Saturday night in Milwaukee with 34 saves in Toronto to pick up his second win of the season.
Head Coach Jim Playfair returns for a second season behind the Heat bench. Last year, Playfair guided the Heat to a 39-29-5-7 record for a third place finish in the North Division standings. Playfair and staff did this despite Abbotsford suffering through an unprecedented number of injuries to key players. Unofficially, the man-games lost to injury last year in Abbotsford were close to 400, over double of the 180 man games lost per season normally. Playfair kept the message simple to the turnstile of players that wore Heat colors last year…finish your checks, fore-check hard and drive the net.Hot Shots:
Bancks a Solid Investment
Newcomer Carter Bancks has had a solid start to this AHL season. Last year’s Captain of the Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL), Bancks chipped in the opening goal of the season for the Heat and set up the game tying goal in the 3-2 victory over the Griffins on Friday night. The following evening, Bancks would set up Greg Nemisz shorthanded for the opening goal of the game and was dangerous all night despite his team falling 6-2 to the Admirals. After a two point performance on Monday in Toronto, Bancks is a co-leader in the AHL scoring race after the first week of the season.
Wanted – New Scorers!
Based on the current roster, the Heat will be returning 15 players from last season’s roster, (2 goalies, 6 defenders, 7 forwards). Of the 15, only one player, Cam Cunning, finished in the top five in team scoring (Cunning was third in scoring with 19-19-38). In fact, only three of the Heat’s Top 10 point producers are back, (Cunning, Keith Seabrook and Staffan Kronwall). However, it should be noted that newcomer Jon Rheault led the Heat in playoff goal scoring with six in the post season. Rookie Mitch Wahl, coming off a 96 point season in the WHL with Spokane, also chipped in for six points as a rookie in last year’s playoffs.
Heat forward JD Watt was able to find his scoring touch in the preseason, scoring in each of the two preseason games for Abbotsford while also chipping in an assist for three points in two games. Last season, Watt was 5th in the AHL in PIM’s with 267 while tallying nine goals. Watt has proven that he has a touch for the net in the past. In 2006-07, he led the Vancouver Giants in goals with 34 en route to the Giants winning the 2007 Memorial Cup Championship.
We know that the Heat is the AHL’s most Western based team. Did you know that 15 players on the current Heat roster at one time called the WHL home? More than half of the roster once rode the WHL Iron Lung for their junior careers, which would get them used to the travel demands of the AHL.Goalie…Goalie…Gone!
Last season, Jim Playfair will tell you that the goaltending was in a word…inconsistent. Leland Irving and Matt Keetley started the season in Abbotsford, with Irving starting strong while Keetley fought injuries. As Keetley recovered, David Shantz backed up Irving. Upon Keetley’s return, he thrived and posted some nice numbers while Irving’s play lagged behind. Irving’s game became so inconsistent that Shantz was called up and Irving dispatched to Victoria to find his confidence. When Keetley’s game sagged, Shantz became the #1 netminder and Irving and Keetley swapped places in Abbotsford and Victoria…are you dizzy yet?
Long story short, Shantz is now between the pipes in the Canucks organization and Keetley and Irving are left to try and figure out who is number one. “These two goalies have a lot of talent and our franchise (Calgary) has to know if we have a legitimate #3 goalie in our system. We need one of these players to step up and take the reins to be #1 here in Abbotsford.”
Irving has stepped up thru the first three games. Despite the loss in Milwaukee on Saturday night, Irving’s play is a big reason why the Heat is 2-1. Timely saves has kept Irving’s teammates in the game long enough to find a way to win the games in Grand Rapids and Toronto. Irving thru the first week has a 3.28 GAA and a .902 save percentage. Take away the Milwaukee game and Irving is 2-0 with a 1.96 GAA and a .944 save percentage.
Can I See Your ID Please?
14 players on the Heat roster to start the season will be 22 years old or younger. Gaelan Patterson has the distinction of being the youngest player on the Heat’s roster to start the season, while the greybeard award gets presented to the ancient warrior, Matt Keith. Keith, from nearby Aldergrove, BC, checks in at 27 years old.
Schedule – First Five Games:
* 1. Friday @ Grand Rapids – 3-2 W (SO/F)
* 2. Saturday @ Milwaukee – 2-6 L (F)
* 3. Monday @ Toronto – 3-2 W
* 4. Friday, October 15 vs Rockford – 7 PM PDT
* 5. Saturday, October 16 vs. Rockford – 7 PM PDT
Schedule – Next Five Games:
* 1. Wednesday, October 20 @ Chicago – 5 PM PDT
* 2. Friday, October 22 @ Rockford – 5:05 PDT
* 3. Saturday, October 23 @ Milwaukee – 5 PM PDT
* 4. Monday, October 25 vs. Rochester – 7 PM PDT
* 5. Tuesday, October 26 vs. Rochester – 7 PM PDT
All games can be heard on Country 107.1 FM.