The Heat got the early start they were looking for taking 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the first period on goals from Jon Rheault and Brett Sutter power play markers in game three.
However, Hamilton’s rookies responded Tuesday night as Gabriel Dumont and Olivier Fortier responded helping the Bulldogs edge the Heat 3-2 and take a 2-1 series lead.
Afterwards, Abbotsford bench boss Jim Playfair was the least bit impressed with the lopsided officiating of Francis Charron, who awarded the Bulldogs six power play opportunities in comparison to the Heat’s two.
"I think the Hamilton Bulldogs seemed to have good calls from the referee in back-to-back games," Playfair said after Tuesday’s loss. "I can't imagine the penalties had to be as lopsided as they were in two games.
"Given that I thought our players still competed very hard."
Not wanting to go down 3-1 for the second consecutive series the Heat responded Thursday night led by the all-rookie line of Mitch Wahl
, Lance Bouma
and Carter Bancks
The trio combined for five points and both Wahl and Bouma had their first career professional goals in the win.
Bouma opened the scoring mid-way through the first and Wahl scored a pair, including the game winner, in Abbotsford’s 4-1 win.
David Van Der Gulik had the other for Abbotsford who evened the series at two with the win.
“It’s obviously a good feeling, I think me, Bancks and Bouma have played really well together the last few games and I think its given the coaches more confidence,” said Wahl afterward. “The more we can play well and play hard like that I think the more confidence they’ll get in us.
“That’s what we want in the end.”
Since being formed prior to game three the line of Wahl, Bouma and Bancks has been the Heat’s best line, single handedly taking over the team’s offence in Thursday’s game four win.
The threesome has quickly garnered the nickname of “the kid line” by those who cover the team closely.
However, it wasn’t so long ago that the trio were enemies playing on separate teams in the Western Hockey League.
Wahl, Calgary’s second-round selection from 2008 finished up his CHL eligibility this season with the Spokane Chiefs. Bouma, the Flames third-round selection in ‘08, spent the past season captaining the Vancouver Giants. Meanwhile, Bancks wrapped up his CHL eligibility with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and soon after signed an AHL deal with the Heat.
Bouma admits he’s had good battles with his new linemates over the years.
“They’re both really good guys,” said Bouma. “When we played against each other during the season obviously we’re not friends, but now I think we’ve become pretty close together and we’re enjoying playing together.”
Wahl who had some good playoff battles with Bouma when the Chiefs and Giants hooked up two years ago admits they weren’t friends while playing against each other.
“On the ice, playing against each other we battled hard, words were said and everything else,” said the Seal Beach, CA native. “I mean we’re on the same team now, we’re playing hard together and it’s really nice to be on the same side.”
According to Playfair, the plan wasn’t to put the three 20-year-olds together.
“I hadn’t planned on putting them all together. I thought if I moved them around a little bit and created some energy on different lines that might work and then as the game played out (Tuesday) night it worked well when they were put together.
“They’re good players, well coached and it’s good for the organization right? The Calgary Flames – everyone talks about how the cupboards are empty and there’s nothing on the shelves, there’s no future in Calgary - well watch these kids play and I think you’ll change your tune.”
Keith Seabrook will always be known as Brent’s little brother – Brent of course the workhorse defenceman currently patrolling the blue line for the Chicago Blackhawks as they battle the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The older brother has made sure his sibling has been in attendance for some of the bigger hockey games of his young career, including Canada’s gold medal win in February.
This week was no different.
As the Chicago Blackhawks took on the Vancouver Canucks in game three of their series Brent made sure Keith was in attendance.
The Seabrooks of course hail from Delta, B.C., Keith is now property of the Flames, despite growing up a Canucks fan, but when asked prior to heading to game three, the younger Seabrook had no problem saying who he was pulling for on Wednesday night.
“It’s cool, it’s definitely fun to go watch him play and take a few notes here and there. I’m just going to go and enjoy the game and hopefully Chicago wins,” Keith said with a smirk.
“Yeah definitely a Canucks fan growing up, but I think the family wins in this one.”
John Negrin (D) – Knee
Staffan Kronwall (D) – Upper Body
Carsen Germyn (RW) – Concussion
John Armstrong (C) – Shoulder
Kris Chucko (RW) – Concussion
Colin Stuart (LW) – Upper Body
Shawn Weller (LW) – Lower Body
Tyler Spurgeon (C) – Upper Body
Game 5 – Sat., May 8 – Hamilton at Abbotsford, 10:00 ET
Game 6 – Mon., May 10 – Abbotsford at Hamilton, 7:30 ET
*Game 7 – Tue., May 11 – Abbotsford at Hamilton, 7:30 ET
* If necessary.