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The Heat Report: Staying the course

by Dhiren Mahiban / Calgary Flames

Abbotsford, BC – The Heat are in the process of concluding the back-end of their latest 10-game segment, their fifth of the season, and heading into Friday night’s action Abbotsford is 3-3-0-1 with seven of a possible 14 points.

“We have a set amount of points that we want to get out of each segment that we feel is going to put us in a good spot to make the playoffs and give us a really good run,” said forward Cam Cunning. “We’ve put ourselves a bit behind in this segment”

For his part, Cunning seems to have found a bit of his scoring touch of late picking up three goals and an assist in his last three games.

The news isn’t as good for the team as a whole, which has struggled out of the gates on this 10-game road trip with a 1-2-0-0 record after three games.

“We blew two leads in two games on penalties so what I’ve learned about our group is we’ve got better team structure in our game, but we need individual discipline for ourselves to really be put in a position where we can stay out of the penalty box and roll four lines,” said Heat head coach Jim Playfair.

“We’ve played 24 one-goal games and we’re 14-4-2-4 so I’m proud of the fact that they can play in one-goal games – I just want to make sure we start winning them.

Week in Review

Abbotsford split a pair of games in Manitoba (AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) last weekend; the Heat edged the Moose 3-2 in a shootout last Friday night.

Cunning scored a pair of goals in regulation and Jon Rheault picked up the shootout winner at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

On Sunday afternoon it was the Moose picking up the win with a 5-3 victory. Josh Meyers, Rheault and Cunning had the goals in the loss.

Abbotsford began their three-game tour of Texas on Wednesday in a rare morning tilt against the San Antonio Rampage (AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes). The Rampage doubled-up the Heat 4-2. Matt Keith and T.J. Brodie had the lone goals for the Heat.

Players split for All-Star Break

Following Saturday’s tilt in Texas, Heat players and coaches will go their separate ways to enjoy a few days off during the All-Star break.

A group of players are heading to Las Vegas, some are heading to Vancouver Island while Playfair plans to head back to B.C. to keep an eye on his sons hockey games.

“I’ll go back to Abbotsford and spend my time with my family,” Playfair said. “I’ll watch hockey on my break. I get my breaks at certain parts of the season on the odd off day; I don’t need much of a break - I like to stay with it so I stay strong.”

Playfair’s son Dylan, 18, is in the middle of his rookie season with the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL.

“I’ll watch my oldest boy play on Tuesday night up in Merritt, I’ll watch my youngest on Monday night,” Playfair continued. “I’ll go into the office, there’s work to be done, we have to prepare for the next game, we come back and we play five games in six nights.”

Cunning, a native of Powell River, B.C., plans to head home for the break.

“Some of the guys are (going to Vegas), it's a nice break to have during the year,” he said. “Obviously it’s a nice time to get away from the game for a couple days and relax.

“I’m going back to Abbotsford and then off to Tofino on Vancouver Island for a couple days.”

Playfair on Conroy

As Calgary Flames veteran Craig Conroy ponders retirement, Playfair, who coached Conroy in Calgary during the 2006-07 season, shared his views on the 39-year-old.

“He’s an excellent person, he’s got a great family, he’s a great family man, he’s got a real up-beat disposition about him,” Playfair said. “He’s a real well-liked, well-respected player in the locker room.

“That’s the evolution of the game, it's a young mans' game now.”

Many have suggested Conroy would look at opportunities in the media for life after hockey, but should the centreman look to coachin, Playfair would welcome him with open arms.

“I have no problem helping any of these veteran guys get into the coaching industry, but in this particular case it's strictly about what does Conny wants to do,” said Playfair. “If that’s what he decides to do and that’s what he wants, we would welcome him for sure because he’s going to have some great insight into the areas that he thinks are important in the game, and I know he’d be a positive influence on our kids.”

Injury Update

John Negrin – Knee

Matt Keetley – Knee

Kris Chucko – Concussion

Carter Bancks – Concussion

Mitch Wahl – Neck

Look Ahead

The Heat wrap-up their pre-all-star break portion of the road trip Friday and Saturday in the state of Texas – on Friday night Abbotsford visits Houston (AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) and on Saturday night the Heat are in Texas to play the Stars (AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars).

For regular updates on the Abbotsford Heat follow Dhiren on Twitter

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