ABBOTSFORD, BC -- The Abbotsford Heat narrowly missed a chance to take over first-place in the Western Conference this weekend, splitting a two-game series with the Oklahoma City Barons during a five-game road trip through the American south.
With just one game left on the road trip (Monday versus the San Antonio Rampage) the Heat sport a record of 24-12-3. Their 51 points are just two shy of the Barons (Edmonton Oilers affiliate) for both first in the West Division and first in the Western Conference. Had it not been for the red-hot Hersey Bears (Washington Capitals affiliate) with just one loss in their past 10 games, it would be for tops in the entire American Hockey League as well.
The Heat began the trip with a 5-0 win over the Rampage. Danny Taylor picked up the shutout, while 11 different players recorded a point, including captain Quintin Laing and speedster Jon Rheault who had a goal and an assist each.
Abbotsford lost 2-1 to the Texas Stars (Dallas Stars affiliate) in the second game of the trip, in which Taylor was pulled after allowing one goal in the opening 40 minutes. In relief, Joni Ortio allowed the winning goal with just 12 seconds remaining. Ortio, the Flames’ 2009 sixth-round selection, is now 0-4-0, including an overtime loss in his only start of the season.
Three days later the Heat visited Oklahoma City and won 2-1 on the strength of Taylor’s 32 saves and goals by Justin Dowling – his first of the season – and Rheault, his 15th.
Sunday night in the O.C. the Heat lost 3-1, with all four goals being scored in the second period. Krys Kolanos’ 18th of the year was the only Heat tally.
Greg Nemisz recently joined the infirmary with an upper body injury. Ryan Howse is still out out with an upper body injury as well. James Martin remains out of the lineup with a thumb injury, while Dustin Sylvester’s lower body injury has him on the sidelines.
Defenceman Clay Wilson was reassigned to Abbotsford by the Flames this weekend. Wilson played two games for the Flames before being sent back to the farm. Wilson was one of two Abbotsford Heat players chosen for the AHL All-Star Game at the end of January in Atlantic City, NJ.