Abbotsford, B.C. – After spending five days between the final regular season game in Toronto and the start of the playoffs, in Rochester, away from home the Abbotsford Heat got their post-season kicked off on the right foot with a 3-2 win at the Blue Cross Center last Thursday.
Keith Seabrook had a pair, including the game winner and Shawn Weller added the other as David Shantz turned aside 30 American shots securing at least a split on the road
Two nights later the Heat once again got things started the way they wanted as John Lammers opened the scoring late in the first period to give Abbotsford the early advantage. However, it was all Rochester after that as the Americans scored three times in the second and then once again in the third tying the series at one with a 4-1 victory.
The best-of-seven series moved to Abbotsford for game three Monday night and once again Abbotsford got the start they wanted opening up an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Mikael Backlund and Jon Rheault.
Once again Rochester responded scoring five unanswered goals, including four in the second, breaking out to a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes.
The third saw much of the same as the Americans added three more skating away with an 8-4 win and a 2-1 series lead. Brett Sutter had a pair for the Heat in the loss.
David Shantz and Leland Irving both saw action in Monday night’s loss as Shantz allowed five goals on 21 shots and Irving surrendered three goals on seven shots.
“I told the guys (Tuesday) morning – whether you lose by one goal or whether you lose by a bunch of goals the series is still 2-to-1 for (Rochester),” said Jim Playfair. “We have to find a way to tie it back up (Wednesday) night. That’s the bottom line.”
Added Seabrook: “It’s obviously frustrating when things aren’t going right but it starts with us, and our preparation, (Monday) night is just something we have to put behind us and go forward.
“There’s ups and downs throughout the playoffs and every team, I think, faces those.”
The Calgary Flames second round selection from the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Mitch Wahl, has filled in due to injury and had an immediate impact. During four regular season games the California native picked up a goal and three helpers.
Wahl has added a pair of assists in two post-season games thus far.
“I think his pace of play and his details from junior are still evident,” Playfair said. “I think when you take a top skilled kid like that out of junior hockey that’s played a lot of minutes, played lengthy shifts – you have to help them get more of a work ethic and put details in play. I think this is a really good learning experience for him.”
Wahl is no stranger to playoff hockey as he was a member of the 2008 Spokane Chiefs squad, which took home the Memorial Cup. Its’ an experience Wahl says helps with adjusting to the playoff intensity at the AHL level as well.
“I played on some good teams in Spokane, we went deep in the playoffs a few times so I have experience in the playoffs at that level, but obviously it’s a little bit different here,” Wahl said. “The season is a little longer and in this league guys are a little bit bigger, you’ve got to be smarter with the puck.”
The injuries continue to mount in Abbotsford as both Colin Stuart and Shawn Weller went down in game two with undisclosed injuries. Its expected that J.D. Watt is among those who will get the call to fill in for game three on Wednesday.
“What do you do? Seriously,” Playfair said after an optional skate Tuesday. “I think it’s an opportunity for some other players to draw back in and those guys are put in a position where they can make an impact.
“Our sick bay is bigger than our dressing room so I don’t go in there. I just let our trainers tell me who is available.”
John Negrin (D) – Knee
Andy Delmore (D) – Shoulder
Carsen Germyn (RW) – Concussion
John Armstrong (C) – Shoulder
Kris Chucko (RW) – Concussion
Jason Jaffray (LW) – Knee
Colin Stuart (LW) – Upper Body
Shawn Weller (LW) – Lower Body
History in Abbotsford
For the first time in 74 years an AHL playoff game was played in western Canada on Monday night and Seabrook, a native of Delta, B.C., hopes Abbotsford’s arrival is the beginning of expansion in western Canada.
“It’s awesome having my family come out to games and them being able to watch,” Seabrook said. “I think it’s great for western Canada to have an AHL team like this and hopefully it grows from here.”
Between the Pipes
The Heat coaching staff isn’t taking Monday night’s debacle too seriously referring to the four-goal loss as “playoff hockey.”
Shantz started his third consecutive game and was dealt his second playoff loss. Meanwhile, Irving got his first taste of playoff action; however, it was short-lived as the former first rounder appeared in just over a period of action
“In playoff hockey there are off nights,” said Heat goaltending consultantand Flames assistant coach Jamie McLennan. “It’s not a big deal whether you lose 19-1 or 2-1. The bottom line is you lost that game and you move forward. It happens at every level – you look at the NHL there’s been some lopsided scores already so stuff like that is not a big deal.”
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)