Like their parent club, the Abbotsford Heat have endured a number of player moves over the last week. As a result of seven regulars out of the line-up due to injury, and the departure of Keith Aulie in the Dion Phaneuf trade, the Heat have a pair of Anaheim Ducks prospects on loan and had a couple of forwards signed to a PTO.
Defenceman Shawn Weller, originally an Ottawa Senators third-round selection (77 th overall) in 2004 and forward Mark Mitera the 19 th selection by the Anahiem Ducks in 2006 were assigned from the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL on Monday to fill holes in the Heat roster.
Additionally, the AHL club signed forwards Ben Gordon and Justin Bowers to professional tryouts, but since returning from their three-game road trip in Texas the pair have been released.
It is expected Abbotsford will add another forward prior to Thursday’s game against the Chicago Wolves.
“It is what it is, every team goes through it,” said Heat head coach Jim Playfair of the recently flurry of player moves. “Lake Erie went through it earlier in the year, they struggled to find their way. They got their players back and they’re in the hunt again.”
Between the pipes 2006 first-round pick Leland Irving
(11-15-2) was demoted to Victoria of the ECHL on Jan. 28 and replaced by David Shantz (2-4-0).
“I think our goaltending situation hasn’t been stabilized,” Playfair said. “We haven’t had a clear cut number one goaltender and that’s been hurting us.” Jaffray on Trades
Heat forward Jason Jaffray, who had a brief two-game call up in January, weighed in on all the recent Flames transactions.
“I don’t think its’ really rattled a lot of guys, I think if anything it kind of settled everybody down,” Jaffray said. “With the situation now there’s not going to be a whole lot of movement. They’ve got 17 forwards (in Calgary) and a solid seven defenceman.
“The only guy who can come down without clearing waivers is (Mikael) Backlund and by talking to him I don’t think we’re going to see him until the Olympic break.”Road Trip
In the midst of all the player transactions the Heat played a pair of games in Texas and one in Houston over a four-day period (Jan. 29-Feb. 1).
|J.D. Watt |
The trip started with back-to-back games against the Texas Stars (NHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars) in which the Heat were out-scored 10-3.
On Jan. 29 after getting down 1-0, Jaffray tied things up in the first, but Texas responded with five unanswered goals to take a 6-1 decision.
The following night Abbotsford found themselves down 2-0 six minutes into the middle frame. The Heat battled back to tie things up before the second was over thanks to goals from Cam Cunning and David Van Der Gulik. However, Texas answered with a pair in the third sweeping the two-game set with a 4-2 win.
Abbotsford closed out the road trip in Houston (NHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) on Monday with a 3-1 loss to the Aeros.
“Our last couple games we’ve played good hockey, didn’t get the results,” said forward J.D. Watt.
“The second game against Texas, we lost 4-2, but we played a good game. Everyone in that dressing room said after the game if we play that way every night we’re going to win nine out of ten games.”Injury Notes
Abbotsford currently has seven regulars out of the line-up and as of Wednesday’s practice Playfair isn’t expecting anyone back anytime soon.
Defenceman Matt Pelech is out with a pinch nerve in his shoulder. Centre John Armstrong is rehabbing after shoulder surgery.
Forwards Chris Chucko and Carsen Gerymn along with defenceman Brett Palin are all recovering from concussions.
Riley Armstrong has a groin strain and defenceman John Negrin has an upper body injury.Coming Attractions
Abbotsford will play their only four home games of the month over the next week beginning with the Chicago Wolves (NHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers) Thursday and Friday.
The Heat and Wolves have hooked up twice this season with Chicago taking a 7-1 deicsion on Oct. 24 and Abbotsford evening up the season series with a 3-1 win on Nov. 27.
With the Wolves in town the major draw is former NHL defenceman Chris Chelios. The 25-year pro admits the game is still fun.
“I am really enjoying it with the Wolves, we’ve got a great organization. It is back home and it has been a great experience so far.”
Additionally, the pair of games against the Wolves is special for Watt who spent his WHL days playing with Atlanta Thrashers prospect Spencer Machacek. The duo were members of the Vancouver Giants squad that won the 2007 Memorial Cup.
“It’s always fun playing guys that you’ve got that kind of relationship with,” admitted Watt. “We won a Memorial Cup together and that’s always a special thing, but when we get on the ice against each other there’s no friends.”
The Heat will closeout the home stand with a pair of games Monday and Tuesday against the Toronto Marlies (NHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs).Olympic Spirit
A native of Vanderhoof, B.C., Heat bench boss Jim Playfair will get into the Olympic spirit this weekend when he carries the torch through Abbotsford on Sunday.