- It pays off to be ahead of the game, just ask Heat rookie Carter Bancks
. The Marysville, BC native made the jump to the pros late last year after finishing up his season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and it's a move that’s paying dividends now in his first full season in Abbotsford.
Bancks suited up for nine regular season games and 13 playoff appearances picking up one assist last year, but the experience is evident in the early going.
“Last year I got here and I was kind of nervous every time I was on the ice, I was just trying to do things really simple: chipping pucks in and just trying to be a hard working player. I brought all that into this year as well,” said Bancks, who picked up a goal and four assists on the team’s recent road trip.
“I just have a little bit more confidence with the puck and the coaches are trying to encourage us to make plays: hold on to the puck, be a puck-possession team and it's been nice, I’ve kind of settled in nicely this year.”
Bancks started out playing alongside Ryley Grantham
and Greg Nemisz when the team visited Grand Rapids last Friday and finished up the trip playing with Matt Keith and Bryan Cameron
By the looks of things the trio of Bancks, Keith and Cameron will remain in tact for the weekend set against the Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks).
“Carter really carried it over from last season, he’s a good competitor, it's easy to see why he was the captain of a Western Hockey League team,” said Heat head coach, Jim Playfair. “I’m proud of him, I think his goals are all hard-working goals plus he blocks shots. He wins face-offs – he’s an interesting player for the organization because he plays with a lot of heart and soul and he still has the talent to create some offence.
“He’s an exciting player.”
As of Wednesday night, Bancks is tied with five others for the league lead in points. Week in Review
Abbotsford dropped the puck on their second season last Friday kick-starting a three-game road trip which saw the Flames top affiliate go 2-1-0.
The Heat began the trip with a 3-2 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins – a game which saw Abbotsford tie things at two late in the third thanks to a Keith tally and then win it in extra time thanks to Kris Chucko’s shootout winner.
Abbotsford dropped a 6-2 decision the following night to the Milwaukee Admirals – things looked good early as the Heat jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Nemisz and Cunning; however, the Admirals responded with six unanswered goals on 20 shots to pick up the come from behind win.
The Heat closed out the trip on Thanksgiving Monday with a 3-2 win in Toronto. Cunning, Keith and Nemisz all picked up their second goals of the season in the victory while Leland Irving
turned aside 34 Marlies shots.
“I think Leland Irving
played very solid for us, I think that the young kids played well, I think Nemisz scoring a few short handed goals was good for the special teams and I thought Cam Cunning played well,” said Playfair assessing the trip.
“I think when you can start off two and one, with a young group of players trying to find their way its’ really exciting.”Leaders
Abbotsford is yet to name a captain, however, Playfair did name his alternate captains while on the road giving an ‘A’ to Cunning, Keith and defenceman Matt Pelech.
“I think its’ nice personally to have that added responsibility and its’ definitely not something that I’m going to take lightly,” said Keith a native of Aldergrove, BC. “I think anyway you look at it, for any individual, the best way to have success individually is by winning.”Injury Update
Heat forward Kris Chucko must be thinking “not again” after he was sidelined with what the team is calling a shoulder and neck injury suffered when he ran into teammate Bryan Cameron
Chucko was circling the net on the fore-check when Cameron missed his intended target and ran into his teammate.
“We just want to make sure he got checked out,” said Playfair of Chucko’s situation. “He’s listed as day-to-day and we’ll see where he’s at.”Kronwall Departs
It was known for a while that the day might be coming and it finally did on Monday as the Heat officially announced Staffan Kronwall has been loaned to his hometown team Djurgardens IF in Stockholm Sweden.
“Staffan’s a great person, a very good player and I think that the organization felt the kids here could step in and play, said Playfair. “I think having Staffan go back to play in his hometown with his wife and his hometown team was a real classy move by the organization.”
Kronwall rejoins Djurgardens IF Stockholm of the Swedish Elite League, a team he played with from 2002 through 2005.The Look Ahead
Abbotsford plays their home opener this weekend at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre when they play host to the Rockford Ice Hogs on Friday. They’ll see the Ice Hogs Saturday as well as the Heat look to improve on last season’s home record.
“I think for us, people forget this, when you play back-to-back every single time here at home (it's) really difficult to win both games,” Playfair explained. “For me the focus is more about winning the first game and preparing better for the second game.”
Author: Dhiren Mahiban