Abbotsford, BC – Being a better team at home is something Heat head coach Jim Playfair has worked on with his group all season long, but as the team wrapped up its season-high 10-game home stand Wednesday night with a win, it wasn’t all good news.
“Obviously I think we should’ve garnered more points,” said Playfair, “but when I break it down I do it in segments and right now in the fifth segment of our season, and we’re 2-1-1.”
Playfair is well known for breaking his team’s schedule in to 10-game segments, which the Heat are in the middle of at the moment.
Abbotsford finished the home stand with a 4-4-2 record picking up 10 of a possible 20 points.
“Not the numbers we’d like, but we’ve learned during it about our team,” said veteran Jon Rheault. “I think these 10 games we have coming up is going to be a good challenge for us and we’re a team of character and we’re up for the challenge.”
Abbotsford now enters one of it’s tougher parts of the schedule as the next 10 will be played away from the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Heat split a pair of games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs) last Friday and Sunday.
On the Friday night the Heat managed to edge the Marlies 3-2 thanks to goals from Ryan Stone, Lance Bouma and John Armstrong. Leland Irving made 21 saves in the win.
Sunday’s contest produced a similar 3-2 result; however, it was the Marlies edging the Heat and needing a shootout to do so. Jon Rheault and John Armstrong had the Abbotsford goals while Mike Zigomanis picked up the lone goal in the shootout for the Toronto win.
Abbotsford concluded their 10-game home stand with games against the Peoria Rivermen (AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues) on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday night the Heat suffered an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Rivermen. Gaelan Patterson had the lone goal for Abbotsford while Irving was pulled midway through the second period after allowing three goals on 20 shots.
Abbotsford redeemed themselves on Wednesday night with a 2-0 blanking of Peoria, Bryan Cameron and Jon Rheault had the goals while J.P. Lamoureux made 20 saves for the shutout.
HEAT ON CBC
The first nationally televised American Hockey League game from Abbotsford had an average audience of 166,000 viewers, with a peak viewing audience of 258,000 on Sunday afternoon.
“We are excited that the Abbotsford Heat and the American Hockey League were able to showcase a great game on National Television,” said Heat President Tom Mauthe in a statement. “The CBC did a great job in getting our message out to not just our viewing area but throughout Canada.
“This game let the country know that the AHL is a great product and also affordable for families as seen by the number of young fans and families in our building.”
The Heat had an impressive attendance at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre as well with 6, 023 in attendance to see Toronto edge Abbotsford 3-2 in a shootout.
After battling concussion and a fractured jaw Heat rookie Gaelan Patterson returned to the line-up last Friday night.
The Saskatoon native got some good news Wednesday night as he’ll start the up coming road trip without the jaw protection he’s been wearing since returning.
“I’m starting to get back in to it,” Patterson said. “It’s a tough transition coming back, you got to go over a lot of things that are mentally tough: worrying about getting injured again – things like that.”
Patterson had been out since Dec. 11 and has a goal in four games since returning.
“It definitely felt good to get that goal (Tuesday) night,” said the 20-year-old. “Really what matters right now is just getting the chances and getting pucks on net.”
John Negrin – Knee
Matt Keetley - Knee
Kris Chucko – Concussion
Carter Bancks – Concussion
Mitch Wahl – Neck
“Yeah we just got figure out a way to score the three.”
Jim Playfair on the team’s 15-1-0-2 record when scoring three or more goals.
After enjoying a 10-game home stand for much of January the Heat will now head out on the road to close out the first month of the New Year.
The upcoming road trip sees the Flames top farm club play five games in eight nights.
Abbotsford travels to Manitoba (AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) for games Friday and Sunday (televised on CBC) – then the team heads to the state of Texas for the remaining three.
The Heat play in San Antonio (AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes) next Wednesday, Houston (AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) next Friday and close out the trip against the Texas Stars (AHL affiliate of Dallas) next Saturday night.
FUTURE WATCH- SPENCER BENNETT
Calgary Flames prospect Spencer Bennett has yet to sign his first pro contract, but there’s no hiding the fact that the Flames and their affiliate the Abbotsford Heat are on the mind of the former fifth-round pick (141st overall, 2009).
“Obviously, it’s in the back of your head, but right now, obviously, we’ve got to make the playoffs so it’s Giants first for the next three months,” he said. “Ever since I’ve got here, (the Flames) have kind of let me play out the first couple of weeks and see how I fit in, see how I’ve done.”
The native of White Rock, B.C. was dealt by his WHL club, the Portland Winterhawks, to the Vancouver Giants in late December and ever since joining his new team Bennett has had no trouble finding the back of the net.
In just nine games with the Giants, Bennett has nine goals and 14 points – he had just 21 points in 37 games with Portland prior to the deal.
“We are pleased with his play since the trade to Vancouver and we highly value Don Hay’s skills in coaching and player development,” said Flames acting GM, Jay Feaster. “We want Spencer to learn from Don and his staff and continue to compete and battle in all three zones of the ice.
“We intend to continue to monitor his progress.”