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Heat in the house

by Dhiren Mahiban / Calgary Flames

 The Abbotsford Heat, the Calgary Flames top affiliate in the American Hockey League, come to Calgary for a game February 18 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Heat will take on the Oklahoma City Barons, the top affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.

See top Flames prospects like Leland Irving, Greg Nemisz, Matt Pelech and others up close.

And, from Feb. 15-18, leading up to the game, will have features on some of the top prospects.

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For the first time in franchise history the Flames top farm club will play a regular season game in Calgary tonight when the Abbotsford Heat and the Oklahoma City Barons do battle at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

It couldn’t be a better time for Flames fans to get a rare look at the top prospects in the Calgary system as the Heat are 6-3-0-1 in their past 10 games including a 4-0-0-0 record Abbotsford strung together last week with goaltender Leland Irving picking up a pair of shutouts.

“We feel pretty good about our game right now,” admitted Greg Nemisz. “It was a really tough road trip, but we ended it the right way and we’re really excited about the way we’re playing right now.”

The Heat (27-22-2-5) wrapped up a stretch of seven games in nine nights last Saturday as they swept a pair of games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL affiliate of the Toronto Marlies).

Last Friday night Gord Baldwin opened the scoring with his first of the season and then Ryan Stone took over scoring a natural hat trick as the Heat beat the Marlies 4-1.

The following night the Heat blanked the Marlies 3-0 on goals from Chris Breen, Cam Cunning and Stefan Meyer while Irving turned aside 26 shots for his fifth shutout of the season.

“When you play seven games in nine nights the team finds out about playing consistently together as a team,” said head coach Jim Playfair of the recent success. “We were able to do things consistent and we got pucks out of our own end well.

“Those were two big games against Toronto – we’re not going to see them again till the 80th game of the year.”

Friday night’s match-up could be a preview of what the battle of Alberta will look like for years to come, as Oklahoma (28-19-2-5) is the top farm club of the Edmonton Oilers.

“I guess so,” chuckled defenceman T.J. Brodie. “We haven’t seen them yet this year and they’re in the other division so it’ll he a whole new experience playing against them.

“We just got to go out and play our game.”

After seeing arguably the toughest portion of their schedule come to an end last weekend, the Heat had full days off Sunday and Monday before getting back to the practice ice on Tuesday in Abbotsford.

The Heat will play a back-to-back with the Barons as the two teams play again Saturday night in Abbotsford.

“In one regard it is another game for us,” Playfair said. “In another regard it’s an exciting time for some of the young players to play in the Saddledome.

“For the coaching staff it’s about finding away to get two points.”

As far as the players are concerned, Nemsiz summed it up well.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “We get a chance to play in front of, hopefully, our future fans and it’s a big game we’re on a roll right now and we’re looking to get the big win and hopefully carry it on to Saturday at home.”

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