Abbotsford, BC- Winning against the division will be key. That is the message the Abbotsford Heat have been given as they head into their next 10-game stretch which features eight games against North Division rivals.
“We want to be first place in our division,” said forward J.D. Watt. “The big thing for that is winning the games in our division so it starts with Manitoba.”
Heading into Friday night’s tilt against the Moose the Heat are 3-1-0-0 against the division and four points back of the Hamilton Bulldogs for top spot.
“It’s important for us,” explained Matt Keith. “We have to come out and play the same way that we know how. It’s going to make us successful.”
They say talk is cheap, but as the Heat head into the final weekend of their Movember campaign, everyone’s offering their two cents on how the internal competition is going.
“I’m going to say I’ve got the best mustache, I’m not going to give anyone else the satisfaction,” joked Jon Rheault. “I think right now the worst one running has got to be Watter. It’s kind of disgraceful what he’s done to his face.
“It looks like it was painted on with a sharpie, so I don’t think he should be rewarded for that one.”
Watt added, “It’s funny, I don’t think there’d be anyone arguing the fact we’re the youngest team in the league by the looks of our mustaches. I think Army’s (John Armstrong) mustache and my mustache must be on the worst end on most teams and they’re by far the best on this team I think.”
For Keith, it’s been more of a learning experience.
“I can’t say I’m disappointed because I’ve never really grown one. This is as long as it’s ever been, so I’m happy with that. It’s a bit embarrassing that until last week, I was the oldest guy on the team and had the worst mustache.
“My dad obviously didn’t pass on very good genes.”
“J.D. Watt takes the day off the other day because he was sick and comes back with his mustache dyed and all trimmed up. You wonder if he was actually sick or if he just wanted to take the day to groom.”
Matt Keith on Watt’s Movember mustache.
IRVING RUBBING OFF
Leland Irving has a 10-5-0-1 record in his first 16 appearances this season and leads the league in wins. It’s goaltending his team appreciates.
“He’s played very well for us,” Watt said. “With good teams your goalie always gives you a chance to win the game and, at times, will win the game for you. That’s what he’s done. If he continues playing like that we’re going to get a lot of W’s for him.”
In addition to his wins-loss record, Irving has a 2.27 G.A.A and a .910 save percentage along with just two losses this month.
“It really helps when you have confidence in your goalie and he can bail you out when mistakes are made,” Rheault admitted. “He’s been unreal back there.
“It just makes it easy to play when you know you have someone like that back there.”
WEEK IN REVIEW
Abbotsford wrapped up their five-game road trip with a pair of losses in Peoria last weekend.
Last Friday night the Heat were shutout by Rivermen rookie goaltender Jake Allan who turned aside 36 shots for a 2-0 Peoria win.
The following night, Peoria got past Abbotsford 3-1. Logan MacMillan had the lone Heat goal in the loss.
Carter Bancks – shoulder (day-to-day)
Gaelan Patterson – upper body
Cam Cunning – Shoulder
John Negrin – knee
Matt Pelech – shoulder
Kris Chucko – concussion
Ryley Grantham – ankle
After hosting the Manitoba Moose Friday and Saturday, the Heat head east for three games against Toronto and Hamilton.
The Heat play the Bulldogs (AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens) on Wednesday before heading to Toronto for a pair against the Marlies (AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs) on Friday and Saturday.