– The Abbotsford Heat are now 3-4-1 in their stretch of 13 games against the North Division after going 1-3-0 in four games against Hamilton and Manitoba while playing four games in five nights.
The Heat entertained the Western Conference-leading Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens) last Friday and Saturday.
On Friday night the Heat lost a close battle 2-1 at the hands of the Bulldogs. With just 1:23 remaining in the third a harmless looking shot re-directed off a Heat defenceman and beat David Shantz to seal the deal for Hamilton.
The following night it was all Hamilton, P.K. Subban opened the scoring for the Bulldogs early in the first. It was 2-0 for the visitors after 20 minutes and 4-0 after 40.
Heat head coach Jim Playfair’s second period tirade injected some life in to the home squad, but it did not register on the scoreboard.
Staffan Kronwall opened the scoring for the Heat on Monday night as Abbotsford played host to the Manitoba Moose (AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks); however, the visitors scored five unanswered and wound up beating the Heat 5-2.
Abbotsford opened the scoring once again on Tuesday night as Jon Rheault found the back of the net on the power play. The Moose responded in the second when Marco Rosa beat Shantz to even the score.
The game remained tied at one till late in the third when Keith Seabrook sprung David Van Der Gulik, who managed to split the Moose defence, and beat Cory Schneider five-hole to make it 2-1. Abbotsford managed to hang on to that 2-1 lead despite a late third period push from the Moose.
As of Thursday the Heat are 35-29-5-6 on the season good for third place in the North Division, four back of the second place Rochester Americans, and three points up on the Manitoba Moose.
“We’ve obviously been inconsistent,” said Van Der Gulik following Thursday’s practice. “We like how we’re feeling now after a big win (Tuesday) – we’re feeling confident and everyone is in good spirits.
“We got to continue this weekend and finish strong at home. We’re fighting for home ice. We know what’s at stake and we just really need to try and continue build some momentum going into these last five games.”
Jim Playfair’s outburst on referee Jamie Koharski during last Saturday’s loss to Hamlton has gone viral on YouTube garnering over a million views. Additionaly, the stick-swinging tirade has been featured on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, CNN and on Wednesday night it appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Playfair lost his cool in the second period of the Heat’s 4-0 loss to the Bulldogs after he felt Koharski had blown a call on forward J.D. Watt. Watt was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging when he bumped into Bulldogs goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.
“It was the wrong call by the referee,” Playfair said Saturday night immediately following the game. “I thought J.D. Watt was making a play, their goalie comes out into the (face-off) circle, (Watt) got pushed by their defenceman, and he was trying to skate through the hole, but they connect and (the goalie) goes down.
“By no means did (Watt) try and run this goaltender over to deserve five and a game so I disagreed with it and that’s it.”
During both Monday and Tuesday’s games against the Manitoba Moose while Playfair’s name was announced along with the Heat coaching staff the near capacity crowd at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre gave the Heat bench boss a loud cheer.
Afterward Van Der Gulik, one of two players to lose sticks during Playfair’s tirade, commented on the whole situation.
“It’s a huge hit on YouTube and all that so it got us on the map now,” said the Heat forward. “I just didn’t want to be (Shawn) Weller. Weller was the guy that was laughing so I was just trying not to look at anybody. It was a serious moment in the game and obviously a frustrating night.”
Playfair was fined an undisclosed amount on Monday morning by the AHL.
Brett Palin was on the ice once again Thursday taking part in full practice, but for the first time since going down with a concussion in November the Heat defenceman has been cleared for contact.
“It’s a good thing, I’ve been cleared for contact,” Palin said. “Basically the last couple days what I’ve been trying to do is get adjusted to the speed of the game.”
Palin doesn’t have a definite date for his return to the line-up, but expects to be back before the conclusion of the regular season.
Brett Palin (D) – Concussion
John Negrin (D) – Knee
Matt Pelech (D) – Upper Body
Andy Delmore (D) – Shoulder
Carsen Germyn (RW) – Concussion
John Armstrong (C) – Shoulder
Kris Chucko (RW) – Neck
Jason Jaffray (LW) - Knee
Boston Bruins prospect, and Langley BC native, John Lammers is the latest forward to be added to the Heat roster. The 24-year-old was signed to a PTO and joined the Heat on Thursday for his first practice.
Abbotsford is his third AHL stop this season as the left-winger has spent time with the Manitoba Moose and Providence Bruins this year as well. In 42 games Lammers has eight goals and 17 points.
Additionally, the Heat received prospect Mitch Whal from the Spokane Chiefs on Thursday. The 2008 second-round pick of the Flames saw his WHL season come to an end on Wednesday night as the Portland Winterhawks knocked Spokane out of the playoffs.
Abbotsford also had 20-year-old defenceman Christopher Breen
working out with the team on Thursday. The Uxbridge, ON native spent the past season split between the OHL’s Erie Otters and Peterborough Petes. Breen is not expected to play this weekend.
VAN DER GULIK MAN OF THE YEAR
Heat forward David Van Der Gulik was named the American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year last week for his outstanding contributions to the Abbotsford Community during the 2009-10 season.
The Abbotsford native frequently took time out of his schedule to take part in community events such as visiting elementary schools in the Abbotsford-area for the team’s Hawkey’s Hot Readers program and helping out with an Athletes in Action session which was held at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre last month.
Van Der Gulik is now one of 29 finalists for the AHL’s 2009-10 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award honoring the overall American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year.
Abbotsford wraps up its’ final home stand of the season this weekend as they entertain the Grand Rapid Griffins (AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) this Friday and Saturday.
Friday marks the first time this season that the Griffins have visited Abbotsford.
“We know they’ve got a good power play,” Playfair said. When we played against them earlier in the year they were very dangerous. They’re a very well coached hockey team.
“They have to have a lot of good things happen to try and make the playoffs so they’re going to be a desperate team, a hungry team and a competitive team.”
All five of the Heat’s remaining games come against teams below them in the North Division.