ABBOTSFORD ALL STARS ATLANTIC CITY-BOUND
The Abbotsford Heat saw two players named to the AHL All-Star Game at the end of January.
Winger Krys Kolanos and defenceman Clay Wilson were chosen to the Western Conference team.
“We’re excited for them,” said head coach Troy Ward.
Kolanos has 17 goals and 21 assists for 38 points this year despite missing the first eight games.
Wilson has 20 points, good enough to place him in the top-10 among defencemen in scoring.
Kolanos, 30, began the season on a PTO but has since signed for the remainder of the season. Wilson was acquired from Florida and is now getting a chance for the Calgary Flames this week. Both players are AHL studs but the game is still an important barometer for any player.
“It’s pretty obvious that Kolanos has developed himself another National Hockey League chance, and Wilson played tonight in Calgary,” said Ward. “The all-star thing is a big thing but it’s different for different guys. Kolanos and Wilson are going back to it because they’ve been there. But it’s funny – they’re taking a different path this time. A lot of times you take a young path. It’s a league of hope that if you do things right and battle hard you’ll get opportunities.”
However, Ward wasn’t completely pleased with the all-star roster announcement. He felt that there was a significant snub. Neither Leland Irving, who was leading the AHL in wins before being recalled to the Flames, nor Danny Taylor, who’s stats have been stellar since joint the Heat, were named despite the fact the Heat are on the heels of first place in the league.
“There were others well deserving but we live way up here so I’m not sure they know where we are,” said Ward fallaciously. “We had such a good start but they couldn’t find us.
“It’s kind of ironic when you have 22 wins, you’ve got two goalies; one’s in the National Hockey League and the other guy comes in a reels-off a 9-2 record, and you don’t get a guy in? That’s kind of disappointing to me. I feel bad for our goaltenders and our team – I thought either one of them deserved it.”
ROSTER IN FLUX ATTRIBUTES TO LOSSES
The Abbotsford Heat lost 4-3 and 2-1 in overtime to the Grand Rapids Griffins last weekend at home.
The team was outshot in both games and struggled to score in the Saturday tilt but this is something that couldn’t be avoided.
The team was without Brendan Mikkelson, the high-octane defenceman who was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and without Clay Wilson, their all-star blue liner who is up with the Calgary Flames currently. Lance Bouma is also in Calgary, where he just scored his first NHL goal. As well, Greg Nemisz was just reassigned to the Heat after one game in Calgary and Raitis Ivanans made a the trip from Abbotsford to Boston and back to Abbotsford after one game with the big club.
“We were a different team than we were a week ago,” said Ward. “We were a little disjointed. We’ve been more on the dominant side of the shot clock in games at home but we weren’t able to do that this weekend. Our chemistry was off.
When you take [Brendan Mikkelson] out of that line up and [Clay Wilson] out of that lineup, that was a major problem this weekend. Your offence is only as good as your defence in terms of getting out of your end and part of that you have to give credit to Grand Rapids but it part of it you just got to say, with new people in our lineup it didn’t give us the time we had before.”
Carter Bancks just returned to the lineup from an injury but Dustin Sylvester is still in the infirmary.
GOALTENDING UPS AND DOWNS
During Friday’s 4-3 loss Danny Taylor was pulled for the first time after allowing two goals on eight shots, allowing Joni Ortio to get some rare playing time. Taylor then made 40 saves the next night in the 2-1 overtime loss. Their coach was happy with the way they both played on the weekend.
“Danny’s a good goalie and Ortio’s a good goalie,” said Ward. “You’re going to get good goaltending at this level when things don’t go their way the night before, especially when he only played 12 minutes.”
“He definitely played well for us,” said Jordan Henry. “He’s the only reason I think that we got to overtime [Saturday].”
The Heat began a five-game road trip Tuesday with a 5-0 win over the San Antonio Rampage.
Danny Taylor made 26 saves for his second shutout of the year and player old and new contributed. Just what the doctor ordered.
“We need to spend some time away from here and time together,” said Ward. “We’ve got a lot of new working parts and we weren’t a well-oiled machine so we need to get away from here and get our bearings, get put back together.”
“Divisional games are important and we’re coming up to the second half,” said captain Quintin Laing. “We want to keep pace with the teams in our division. We seem to play a little bit better when we’re on the road and don’t have a lot of time off and just play games.”
“We’re going to go through some adversity this month because the guys above us aren’t healthy,” said Ward. “They keep taking players. Lance Bouma went up tonight and scored, but at the same time when that happens we have to put other people in our lineup and expected to score here. Whether it’s a Judd Blackwater, or a Justin Dowling, we’ve got to get contributions from some other people. That’s what makes you a good organization and really good hockey team.”
CAPTAIN LAING LOGS 600 GAMES
Friday’s game was the 600th of Quintin Laing’s AHL career, putting him 17th among active players and in the top 100 all-time in AHL history. He’s played for the Norfolk Admirals and the Hershey Bears before joining the Heat, as well as the Jackson Bandits and Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL and most importantly the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals of the NHL.
The 32-year old spoke to what the number means to him.
“I look back, and 600 games is a lot of games at one level. You play with a lot of guys and develop a lot of friendships over that time,” said Laing. “It’s quite an accomplishment from when I started in the ECHL – I never thought I would stick in the AHL. To play 600 games and 70 NHL games it makes you look back and think about some good times.”