– A lot has been made about the young roster the Abbotsford Heat have dressed this season, but the team’s biggest growing pains are yet to come.
The Heat have kicked off their second annual Movember campaign and with one of the youngest rosters in the league, the bigger story could be which rookie comes in with the worst mustache.
“Yeah it’s definitely going to be a struggle to win this thing,” admitted Gaelan Patterson
. “Some guys can do it better than others so it’s all up in the air.”Carter Bancks
added, “It’s started, you can’t see much, but it’s going to be coming along here. I think by the end of the month you might be able to notice a little dirt up there, but that’s about it.”
The veterans have already begun having their fun as well.
“We’re a pretty young team so there are guys that are still finishing up puberty I think,” joked John Armstrong. “They’re still counting the hairs on their face, some of these guys.”
Armstrong, who had a pretty good handlebar mustache going last month, could’ve been bounced from the competition for starting early.
“I didn’t know we were doing this, I started the mustache and I guess I cheated a little bit – I started growing it before November,” explained the 22-year-old. “I had a pretty good one going there.
“I could’ve run away with (the contest) that last one so to be fair to the guys I’ve started over.”
Movember is a month-long event in which men grow mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and depression.
In addition to growing their stache’ for the campaign, there’s also a little internal competition going on to see what the rookies come up with.
“I heard a couple guys talking about that,” Armstrong said. “I know Bryan Cameron
, he’s all pumped to go for it.
“He’s excited I think to find out what the prize is, but there are some guys that are real baby faces on the team so we’ll see.”
Cameron may have some competition.
“I think I’ve got a good shot at that,” said Bancks, “that’s what I’m banking on.”
Young Guns on the PK
The Heat penalty kill, which ranked 25th in the league last season, is now 28th a month into the season.
However, the Heat have shown signs of improvement holding the Admirals to 1-for-6 in two games.
Jim Playfair has entrusted his team’s PK in some of the rookies on the team and they impressed last Saturday night holding Milwaukee off the score sheet while scoring two short-handed goals.
“Our forwards, I guess our willingness to block shots and get in lanes,” explained Bancks. “Our d-men are doing a great job of being quick, jumping guys and clearing pucks out of the zone.
“We’re getting some opportunities because when you’re on the penalty the other team is always thinking offence. It’s their power play so they’re going to do everything they can to hold pucks in and you’re going to get your odd man rushes.”Home Woes
Winning in back-to-back games against the same team is something the Heat have talked about at length in their two seasons in Abbotsford.
Sweeping a team at the Abbotsford entertainment and Sports Center is something they’ve yet to do this season.
“Our game day mentality, we’re talking a lot about that,” said Bancks. “It almost seems like we’re coming out better the second night than we are in the first.”
Abbotsford Heat are currently 2-3-0-1 in their own barn and 4-2-0-0 on the road.Week in Review
The Abbotsford Heat split a two-game set with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators) last weekend.
Milwaukee jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Friday night and hung on to edge Abbotsford 3-2. The Heat got goals from Matt Keith and Lance Bouma
in the loss.
The following night Abbotsford broke out for three goals in a three-minute span in the third and doubled up on Milwaukee, 4-2. J.P. Lamoureux picked up his first win of the season turning aside 19 shots. Quotable
“I was a little bit surprised, I didn’t even know there was a penalty shot. I had to ask the official what was going on, but I played in a few shootouts last year. You just try to calm your nerves and read the shooter.”
Lamoureux on Jamie Lundmark’s penalty shot during the Heat’s 4-2 victory last Saturday.Injury Update
Kris Chucko – Concussion
Matt Pelech – ShoulderRyley Grantham
John Negrin – KneeLeland Irving
– Knee (day-to-day)Look Ahead
The Heat entertain the San Antonio Rampage (AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes) this Friday and Saturday.
Abbotsford wraps up its home stand Monday and Tuesday when the Houston Aeros (AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) visit.
Author: Dhiren Mahiban