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Heat Report: 11.03.10

by Dhiren Mahiban / Calgary Flames
Abbotsford, B.C. – The Abbotsford Heat went an impressive 8-1 on their season-high 18-day road trip last month, but head coach Jim Playfair is more impressed with the way the team responded once it returned home.

After having just one day off last week the team got back to work entertaining the Providence Bruins (AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins) for a pair of games last Tuesday and Wednesday picking up a pair of shootout losses.

Then, this past weekend, Abbotsford played host to the Worcester Sharks (AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks) split the two games and have now picked up four of a possible eight points going 1-1-0-2 in March.

Despite last Saturday’s loss, forward David Van Der Gulik admits getting points wherever possible is crucial at this point of the season.

“Obviously we would’ve liked to have those two other points (against Providence),” Van Der Gulik said. “But every game is a fight at this time of the year and if we can claw a point out of a game, and lose in a shootout, we’ll take that over a (regulation) loss for sure.”

Roster Moves

The AHL required teams to reduce their roster to 23 skaters by Wednesday. As a result, on Monday the Heat re-assigned goaltender Matt Keetley and veteran forward Pete Vandermeer.

Keetley has been sent to Victoria of the East Coast Hockey League while Vandermeer was re-assigned to the Utah Grizzlies.

“It was just a matter of getting Matt back to Victoria to get in some games,” said Playfair. “By having Pete going to Utah, they have a block of games this weekend and I think it’s really good that Pete goes down there and he plays a lot of hockey.”

Irving returns

As a result of last week’s NHL trade deadline, Leland Irving was re-called from Victoria in order for Keetley to back-up Miikka Kiprusoff during last Wednesday’s Wild/Flames game.

This week Irving was spared during the mandatory roster cut down and started his first game, last Friday, since Jan. 22.

“It’s not like I deserve to be here or Keets deserves to be sent down,” Irving said of the transaction. “He’s a great goaltender, he’s proven it time and time again, and I’m just fortunate to be here right now.

“I can’t take that for granted. I know that any point I could be right back (in Victoria)”

While in Victoria Irving appeared in eight games going 2-4-2 while posting a .908 save percentage.

The Swan Hills, AB native says he used the time to work on certain aspects of his game while with the Salmon Kings.

“I made a few little adjustments that make me feel a little bigger and a little more compact in the net – that’s probably the biggest difference since I went down.”

Irving made 28 saves in the Heat’s 5-4 win over Worcester last Friday in his only appearance since being called up.

By the Numbers

2 – Number of games the Heat have not picked up at least a point in during their last 13.

9 – The amount of points the trio of Jason Jaffray, Colin Stuart and David Van Der Gulik put together in two games against Worcester last Friday/Saturday.

13 – games remaining all against the North Division

20 – Games between AHL starts for Leland Irving

43 – Number of shots Worcester had on David Shantz in a 2-1 win over the Heat last Saturday.

Injury Update

John Negrin (D) – Knee

Brett Palin (D) – Concussion

Matt Pelech (D) – Upper body

Carsen Germyn (RW) – Concussion

John Armstrong (C) – Shoulder

Playfair on the current injury situation:

"We’re not going to consider any of them done for the season because I think its’ going to be a situation where a guy like Brett Palin – we’re hoping he’s closer than he has been. Carsen is the same way.  I think Matt Pelech and John Armstrong are probably not going to be back."

Look ahead

Abbotsford has 13 games remaining on the 2009-10 regular season schedule beginning with a pair of tilts against the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche) this weekend.

The final stretch of games could make or break the season as they all come against divisional opponents.

“I think they try and structure games at the end of the year where you’re playing within your division to make the last block of games interesting and exciting for the fans,” said Playfair.

Eight of the remaining 13 will go down at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre and the Heat only play twice on the road this month when they visit Lake Erie next Saturday and Toronto next Sunday.

“The rest of the year we have our divisional games so every game is big,” acknowledge Van Der Gulik. “Lake Erie has played us here well.

“We’ve had a few days off now, rested the body and mind a bit.”

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