ABBOTSFORD, BC -- Two undefeated teams put their season-opening winning streaks on the line as the Chicago Wolves (AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) visit the Abbotsford Heat this weekend at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC). The Wolves have won all three games this season and sit atop the Western Conference standings with six points. The Heat have two wins in two games, tied for second place with the Texas Stars with four points.
The Heat swept the Peoria Rivermen on home ice to open the 2012-13 season and have won their first two home games for the first time in franchise history. The Heat outscored the Rivermen by a 10-3 margin, led offensively by Swiss rookie Sven Baertschi (2-2-4) and 2011-12 Heat Top Rookie award winner Dustin Sylvester (1-3-4). Ben Walter, Ben Street and TJ Brodie each had three points over the weekend. Through the first week of the regular season, the Heat lead the AHL in goals scored. Danny Taylor has also been strong in the Heat net, stopping 41 of 44 shots and earning first star accolades in Friday’s 4-1 victory.
The Wolves started the AHL season by beating the Rockford Ice Hogs twice on home ice, 1-0 in a shootout on Saturday and 5-3in regulation on Sunday. They continued their winning streak by defeating the Peoria Rivermen 2-1 in overtime on Wednesday night. The Wolves won with stout defensive play, boasting the top goals against per game in the Western Conference with only four goals allowed in three games. Eddie Lack has a shutout and allowed just 3 goals over two weekend games against Rockford. Matt Climie stopped 30 of 31 shots Wednesday night as the Wolves won 2-1 in extra time over Peoria.
Both the Heat and the Wolves qualified for the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs; the Heat finishing as the fourth seed with 92 points and the Wolves as the third seed with 91 points (first in the Midwest Division). The Heat advanced to the second round with a sweep of the Milwaukee Admirals, but their season ended with a second round five-game series loss to the Toronto Marlies. The Wolves were upset by the San Antonio Rampage in double overtime of Game Five of their opening round best-of-five series..
Guillaume Desbiens returns to the AESC after playing for the Heat last season. Desbiens was an alternate captain in 2011-12 with Abbotsford. The rugged winger previously played for the Wolves in 2008 when they won a Calder Cup as the AHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers. Desbiens also spent three seasons (2008-09 to 2010-11) with the Manitoba Moose, the previous AHL affiliates of the Canucks.
The Heat and Wolves split the eight game season series last season, with the road team winning six of eight games. By way of an additional overtime loss, the Wolves edged the season series by one point. The last meeting between the two clubs on March 30th saw an overtime winner from the Heat in front of a capacity crowd of 7046, in one of the most memorable games of the season.
Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for each game this weekend. Fans are encouraged to act quickly and purchase their tickets for this Big Ticket game. Tickets to Friday and Saturday’s games can be purchased online at abbotsfordheat.com, or by phone at 1.877.452.HEAT (4328). Tickets start as low as $15 when purchased prior to game day.
Friday Night is the first Legends of Hockey Night as Geoff Courtnall and Cliff Ronning will be honoured. The B.C. born members of the ’94 Stanley Cup Finalist Canucks will be signing autographs on the concourse from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday is the first of three post-game concerts, as local band ‘Fighting for Ithaca’ will close out a busy weekend at the AESC with a set from centre ice.