Abbotsford BC – With five points in five games it’d be easy to assume forward Stefan Meyer has made a quick transition from the NHL back to life in the AHL, but the 25-year-old will tell you otherwise.
“I’m a little bit out of shape, playing 10 minutes or so up in the NHL, I come down here and Jim and Wardo (Troy Ward) have got me playing quite a bit,” Meyer said. “It's my responsibility to get myself where I need to be and I’m not even close to where I should be.”
The Fox Valley, SK native was mainly a bottom six forward with the Flames, but due to injuries and his experience Meyer has found himself in the top six mix with the Heat.
“I think what he’s doing now, he’s playing so many minutes, he’s trying to indentify his game pace,” explained Jim Playfair. “I think he was a four or five minute player in the NHL and he’s a 24 minute player down here so he’s trying to establish the consistency in his game and his effort.”
Meyer, a second round selection (55th overall) of the Florida Panthers in 2003, has a goal and three helpers since being re-assigned in late November.
“These young guys can play,” added the 2005-06 AHL Rookie of the Year. “The coaching staff has a system in place and they’re following it – you can see it. It’s a playoff atmosphere every night.”
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Heat wrapped up their three-game road trip last weekend with a pair of losses in Toronto on Friday and Saturday.
In a rare start Matt Keetley surrendered six goals in a 6-4 loss in the first of the back-to-back with the Marlies.
Bryan Cameron, Matt Keith, Meyer and Lance Bouma all scored for Abbotsford who went 4-for-9 on the power play at Ricoh Coliseum.
The following night the Marlies blanked the Heat 2-0 – James Reimer turned aside 29 shots for the shutout.
Abbotsford returned home earlier in the week for a two-game set with the Lake Erie Monsters and for the second time this season swept a team in back-to-back games at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
On Tuesday night the Heat needed a shootout, but got the job done as Matt Keith picked up the winner.
Gord Baldwin and Josh Meyers had the other goals for the Heat.
On Wednesday Abbotsford shutout the Monsters 1-0 thanks to Matt Pelech’s first of the season and a 23 save performance from Leland Irving who picked up his league-leading 13th win of the season.
Irving sported his newly painted goal mask for the first time in the team’s Tuesday win over the Monsters.
The mask is in honor to his childhood idol.
“There’s a couple dragons on either side,” he explained. “Kind of the idea behind it was sort of a Kirk McLean tribute. The lines he had on his mask and then he had a couple dragons on each side as well.”
After having injuries pile up during the first two months of the season the Abbotsford Heat are finally seeing bodies return to the line-up.
Both Carter Bancks (upper body) and Matt Pelech (shoulder) returned to the Heat roster earlier in the week – while Gaelan Patterson (knee) and Keith Seabrook (upper body) returned to action on the weekend.
Veteran Cam Cunning is also close to returning from a shoulder injury.
Mitch Wahl – Broken Cheekbone
Cam Cunning – Shoulder (day-to-day)
John Negrin – Knee
Kris Chucko – Concussion
Ryley Grantham – Ankle
“Nice to have good players coming back – I don’t want bodies, I want good players.” -- Jim Playfair on his team getting healthier.
The Heat wrapped up a four-game home stand Friday and Saturday with a 4-3 overtime win and a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Wolves (AHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers) before departing on the road for their final trip before the Christmas break. Greg Nemisz scored twice in the weekend set, notching his seventh of the season in the 5-2 loss.
Abbotsford starts the trip in Rochester (AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers) on Tuesday night.
The Heat then travel to Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton to play a pair of games against the Pittsburgh Penguins affiliate. Calgary’s top farm club wraps-up the trip with a game in Adirondack (AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers) on Saturday night.