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The Heat Report 14.04.10

by Dhiren Mahiban / Calgary Flames
Abbotsford, BC – The Abbotsford Heat closed out the 2009-10 regular season on a roll going 5-0-0-1 in their final six games including a pair of wins over Lake Erie and Toronto last weekend.

On Saturday night the Heat fell behind 2-0 to the Monsters after 20 minutes, but Mitch Wahl managed to pick up his first professional goal and David Van Der Gulik along with Cam Cunning tied things at three before the end of regulation.

Over time solved nothing and six rounds were required in the shootout before Staffan Kronwall picked up the game winner sealing a 4-3 come from behind win for Abbotsford.

The following night the Heat closed out the season with a tilt against the baby Leafs and it was all Abbotsford at the Ricoh Coliseum; Jon Rheault had a pair, John Lammers, Shawn Weller and Tyler Spurgeon had the others as Abbotsford knocked off Toronto 5-2.

With the win the Heat capped off their inaugural season with a record of 39-29-5-7 good for 90 points and third place in the North Division earning an opening round match-up with the Rochester Americans in the Calder Cup playoffs.

The last time a Calgary Flames AHL affiliate qualified for the post season was in 2006-07 as the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.

Backlund and Sutter re-assigned

Reinforcements are on the way for the Heat as they prepare for the playoffs - the Calgary Flames re-assigned forwards Mikael Backlund and Brett Sutter on Tuesday and the two will join the team in Rochester in preparation for game one of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Backlund, who was named the Reebok AHL Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 21, spent 14 games with Calgary during his post-Olympic call-up registering eight points while averaging over 10 minutes of ice time.

“I got more comfortable every day and every game,” said Backlund of his experience with the Flames. “Each and every day I got more comfortable and played with more confidence. I was really happy to be in Calgary.

“It’s really disappointing that we didn’t make the playoffs – I was really hoping we could make it and that was a big disappointment.”

With both Sutter and Backlund in the line-up during the Flames push for the post-season the two got an early taste of play-off pressure.

“It’s going to be huge,” admitted Sutter. “Obviously you learn a lot in just how to approach games and the preparation it takes every day. Its’ something I can take back to Abbotsford and hopefully take some confidence and play well.”

Sutter, the son of Flames GM Darryl, spent 10 games with the Flames and was used primarily in a penalty-killing role while averaging over eight minutes of ice time.

Both Flames prospects will be playing in their first AHL playoffs when they begin later this week and Backlund admits the intensity of the last month with Calgary will help in the post-season.

“It’s going to help me a lot, it’s been intense since I got that call-up after the Olympic break. Every day the games were so intense because all of them were like playoff games.”

The Match-Up

Abbotsford finished the regular season 3-1 against the Rochester Americans going 2-0 on the road at the Blue Cross Arena and 1-1 at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

The first meeting between the two clubs was on Dec. 5 when the Heat handed the Americans a 6-2 loss thanks to a two-goal performance from Colin Stuart and a three-point night from Jason Jaffray.

The following night Rochester doubled up Abbotsford with a 2-1 win – Sutter was the lone goal scorer for the Heat. Ville Koistenen and Michal Repik scored third period goals to earn a split in Abbotsford.

Not even a week later, on Dec. 11, the two teams were at it again as the Heat visited Rochester for yet another 2-1 decision. However, on this night it was Abbotsford who came out victorious thanks to goals from Sutter and Cunning in the early going and Matt Keetley was able to shut the door making 37 saves for the win.

The two teams hooked up for a fourth and final time on Feb. 12 and once again Sutter was in on the scoring picking up the eventual game winner in a 3-2 decision. David Shantz picked up the win turning aside 28 Americans shots.

Rochester finished the season in second place in the North Division with a 44-33-2-1 record and 91 points.

Injury Update:

John Negrin (D) – Knee
Andy Delmore (D) – Shoulder
Carsen Germyn (RW) – Concussion
John Armstrong (C) – Shoulder
Kris Chucko (RW) – Neck
Jason Jaffray (LW) – Knee

Playfair on Playoffs

Heat bench boss Jim Playfair knows a thing or two about winning the Calder Cup having coached the, then Calgary Flames affiliate, St. John Flames to an AHL championship in 2001.
According to Playfair, what happened in the regular season has no impact on how “the cookie crumbles” in the playoffs.

“I think what you do is you re-load after your season and you re-evaluate what you’ve learned as a team and recognize that you’ve played through injuries, you’ve played through travel and you’ve played through a new season,” said Playfair.

“I think what you do now is you compile as much information as you think is required to get your team prepared to play as a team without having them overloaded and then get to work.”

The Schedule

GAME 1 - April 15 in Rochester 4:05 PM (PDT)
GAME 2 - April 17 in Rochester 4:05 (PDT)
GAME 3 - APRIL 19 in Abbotsford 7 PM (PDT)
GAME 4 - APRIL 21 in Abbotsford 7 PM (PDT)
*GAME 5 - APRIL 23 in Abbotsford- 7 PM (PDT)
*GAME 6 - April 25 in Rochester 2:05 (PDT)
*GAVE 7 - April 27 in Rochester 4:05 (PDT)
*If necessary

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