Heat Report: 18.11.13

Rookie Corban Knight has been hitting the scoresheet quite consistently this season

Monday, 18.11.2013 / 3:00 AM
Mike Cadarette

MARVELOUS MONTH

This week the Heat departed Abbotsford with a seven-game win streak under their belt and headed south to take on their division rival Texas Stars and Oklahoma City Barons.

On Wednesday evening, the Heat peppered the Stars for a 7-3 victory thanks to a sensational hat trick and five point night for Blair Jones and an equally impressive 45-save outing from Joni Ortio.

Also chipping in with big nights were rookie Michael Ferland with three assists, Ben Street with two goals and two assists and Chad Billins with a couple of helpers.

The Heat were also perfect on the power play netting three goals on all three chances.

The heavy scoring continued on Friday night as the Heat took a 5-4 win over Ilya Bryzgalov and the Oklahoma City Barons.

Down 3-1 in the second period, Ben Hanowski netted his sixth goal of the season to get the Heat within one. Then it was the Ben Street show as the London, Ontario native matched Jones' hat trick with one of his own. Street knotted the game at 3-3 midway through the second period and scored two more goals just 0:27 seconds apart in the final frame to seal the win and extend the Heat's win streak to nine games.

All good things must come to end, however, as the Heat had their win streak snapped by the Barons in Saturday's rematch.

Despite a valiant 31-save performance from veteran Joey MacDonald, Oklahoma City's C.J. Stretch scored back-to-back in the second period to take home the victory.

The Heat will continue their longest road trip of the season in Milwaukee on Tuesday to face the Admirals followed by a trip to Rockford and Iowa before flying home.

ROOKIE LEADER

Corban Knight couldn't have dreamed of a better start to his pro career.

In just 19 professional games, the rookie's line of work speaks for itself. Fourth in AHL rookie scoring, second in team scoring with 16 points and leads the club with a plus/minus rating of +8. It's tough not be excited for the High River native, but Knight is taking a modest approach his to his outstanding start.

"I don't think I can look that much into it right now," Knight reasoned. "The season is young and there's been movement within our team from call-ups and stuff like that, so it's not something I think you can read too much into. I think, for me, the last week or two I've been on a really solid line. They've been helping me out a lot.

"I know there's still a lot of work in my game to be done. It's nice to get off to a good start, but there's still lots of room for improvement."

Most rookies go through a period of difficulty when they turn pro, but Knight seems to have bypassed that period. When asked how he's made such a faultless transition, he gives full credit to the people he's been surrounded with.

"For me, it's just something where I come to the rink every day and just try and learn as much as I can from the coaching staff and from the older guys.

"For me, I've been lucky enough to be surrounded with a good quality bunch of guys and staff here, so it's made the adjustment a lot easier than I think some guys have it."

Sure enough, Knight has been key to his team's outstanding month of November where they've put up a sparkling 8-1-0-0 record. The 23-year-old has collected seven points in that nine game span.

SEAMLESS ADJUSTMENT

Adjusting to pro hockey is difficult even for the most talented young prospects, but it's an even more arduous process for a young European like Markus Granlund.

Yet, despite the language barrier, the smaller ice, the more physical players and more defence-orientated systems, Granlund is fitting right in. In his last 10 games, Markus has posted an impressive six goals and eight points.

There are a few reasons head coach Troy G. Ward highlights as being the reason the Finnish centre has adjusted so seamlessly.

"He's managed the adjustment well. He's gotten some help from Joni Ortio. That's been really key… I think Markus has had some really good support from his teammates. I thought Roman (Horak) was really good for him. I think Joni is actually super for him. Joni does a good job.

"In fairness to Markus, his brother has been over here and has been playing in the Minnesota system and I think he understands where he's at, he understands a little bit about the game. You still have to go through the language barrier and things like that because Markus is quiet by nature. But you've got to give Markus some credit too. He's handled this really well. "

In learning how to assist and develop a young player from Europe, Ward draws upon his three years of experience as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"The one thing, when I was in (Pittsburgh) a long time ago, we had fifteen Europeans. The one thing I understood then that I don't think really has changed is when you give them the ice time they deserve, European guys, whether they can communicate or they can't, they kind of just seem to take over and they communicate through their play. And I think that's what we've witnessed here of late.

It helps him fit in because the way he's speaking right now is through his play."

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