The Abbotsford Heat will play three divisional games in four nights this week in Ontario. The Heat will face off on Wednesday and Friday nights against the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens) before playing the Toronto Marlies (AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs) in a Saturday matinee at Ricoh Coliseum.
The Heat enter play this week in 11th spot in the Western Conference with 69 points in 67 games. Also sitting with 69 points are the Chicago Wolves (62 games played), the Oklahoma City Barons (62 games played) and the Rockford IceHogs (64 games played) who are seeded ahead of the Heat in eighth, ninth and tenth in the West. The Heat have played more games than any other team in the AHL and are projected to need 16 points in their final nine games to qualify for the post-season.
Sven Baertschi has recorded a goal and an assist in each of the Heat’s last two wins. The 20-year-old winger from Switzerland is leading the Heat with 0.814 points per game in his first season of professional hockey. Baertschi has found chemistry alongside centre Ben Walter who leads the Heat with 25 assists and 38 points. Walter needs 12 points in the final nine games to record his seventh consecutive 50-point season in the AHL.
Mike Testwuide is available to play for the Heat this week after serving his three-game suspension for a charging incident in Texas two weeks ago. Testwuide, acquired in a trade for Mitch Wahl on February 25th, engaged in two fights and scored his first goal as a member of the Heat in the two games prior to his suspension.
20 of the Heat’s 30 wins this season have come on home ice. Abbotsford will look to improve on their road record against two difficult opponents. The Bulldogs are four games over .500 at Copps Coliseum while the Toronto Marlies are the top home team in the Western Conference with 23 home victories.
The Heat have split their six games with the Hamilton Bulldogs this season and have won four of five meetings with the Marlies, including two wins in three visits to Ricoh Coliseum.