ABBOTSFORD, BC -- The Abbotsford Heat will open a four-game home stand with games against the Charlotte Checkers (AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes) on Friday and Saturday night at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC).
The Heat (26-20-3-5) return home after a winless five-game road trip that closed with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Chicago Wolves (AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) at All-State Arena. The Heat sit in top spot in the North Division with 60 points through 54 games played, with the Toronto Marlies two points behind through 49 games played and the Rochester Americans three points back through 49 games played.
Abbotsford and Charlotte split a two-game series in late January in North Carolina as the Heat won 4-3 before the Checkers rallied for a 5-4 win the following afternoon. Dustin Sylvester leads the Heat in scoring against the Checkers this season with two goals and two assists. Over his two years with the Heat, Sylvester has posted four goals and five assists in six games against the Checkers.
Leland Irving made his first start since being reassigned to the Heat on Wednesday in Chicago. Irving made 36 saves on 39 shots through 65 minutes of play to help the Heat earn a point in his first AHL action since January 11th. Irving earned two wins in six appearances with the Calgary Flames before being assigned to Abbotsford. Irving has posted 92 regular season wins in the AHL over his five-year professional career.
The Checkers currently sit in fourth spot in the Western Conference, but are just five points behind the Western Conference and South Division leading Texas Stars (AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars). Chris Terry leads the Checkers in scoring with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 49 games. Checkers goalie Justin Peters, an AHL All-Star this season, has posted five shutouts to tie Barry Brust for second in the league.