TREKKING THROUGH ONTARIO
Having lost nine of their last 10 games, the Abbotsford Heat embarked on a six-game road trip out east, beginning with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies.
The Heat started their road trip on the wrong foot as they fell 3-1 to the Bulldogs, but not without a brilliant effort from rookie netminder Aaron Dell.
Chris Breen opened the scoring at 8:56 of the opening frame from Corey Locke and Sven Baertschi. Mike Blunden responded with a tally of his own to close out the period knotted at one apiece. In the second period, Hamilton's Christian Thomas gave his club the 2-1 lead while they held the Heat scoreless. In the final frame, Gabriel Dumont made good on a penalty shot to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.
Despite the outcome, Dell made 36 saves on 39 shots in the loss.
The two teams renewed acquaintances on Saturday evening as the Heat were able to exact a measure of revenge with a 5-1 pummeling of the Bulldogs.
The first period opened with goals coming fast and furious for the Heat as they netted three markers in just a 0:57 second span. Locke picked up his first goal as a member of the Heat at 14:28 on the power play. Nineteen seconds later, Chad Billins potted his tenth of the campaign to give the Heat a 2-0 lead. Ben Street piled onto the lead with his twenty-fourth tally of the season.
In the middle frame, Baertschi gave the Heat a 4-0 lead on the power play. His goal extended his point streak to six games where he's picked up four goals and four assists over that span. Hamilton's Beaulieu stopped the bleeding early in the third period, but Max Reinhart added an empty netter late to pick up two important points for the Heat's playoff stretch.
Once again, Dell was a bastion in the Heat goal crease, allowing just one goal on 38 shots and was awarded the game's first star honours. Street led the team with six shots on goal in the game. The Heat went 2/3 on the man advantage.
The Heat took a short bus ride north to face the Toronto Marlies on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately the Marlies made the best out of their power play opportunities as they knocked off the Heat 3-2.
With Joni Ortio back between the pipes, Jerry D'Amigo opened the scoring early in the first period on the power play. Midway through the period, rookie rearguard Zach Davies found the puck in front of the net and potted his first career AHL goal to tie up the game 1-1.
In the second period, Locke scored his second goal in as many games on the power play from Reinhart and Derek Smith. Shortly after, Carter Ashton responded for the Marlies on the power play with his fourteenth of the season.
After a boarding major and ten minute game misconduct awarded to Reinhart put the Heat on the defensive for the remainder of the game, Josh Leivo took advantage and potted the winning goal. Ortio stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced in his first game back from Calgary.
With just ten games remaining on Abbotsford's schedule, the Heat will head to upstate New York to face the Utica Comets in a back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday. They will then travel back to Toronto to face the Marlies on Sunday afternoon to close out the road trip.
WELCOME TO ABBY
It's that time of year again.
As the CHL and NCAA seasons enter playoff mode, a new crop of young players look to blaze trails in professional hockey. This week the Abbotsford Heat added Allan McPherson and Garnet Hathaway, two forwards whose collegiate careers have come to an end.
McPherson finished off his senior year with the Clarkson University Golden Knights, putting up solid numbers throughout his career. In 150 games with Clarkson, the Kinburn, Ontario native posted 103 points. The 22-year-old describes himself as a player who prides himself on playing an uptempo style who can chip in offensively.
Hathaway, on the other hand, is a big body who plays a physical north-south style of game. While the 22-year-old right winger isn't known for his offense, he was able to pick up 58 points (20 goals, 38 assists) in 121 games with Brown University. Weighing in at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Hathaway's physical presence will surely be welcome in Abbotsford.
The Heat were able to add some scoring reinforcements this week as they signed Calgary native Kyle Ostrow to a PTO.
The diminutive 5-foot-9 winger has been lights out with the ECHL's Colorado Eagles where he's picked up 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists) in 58 games. The 26-year-old spent four seasons with the University of Denver Pioneers and served as team captain in his senior year.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
First Star - Corey Locke: The crafty veteran has shown time and time again that he can rack up the points, but with nothing but a boat load of assists beside his name, Locke was still looking for his first goal as a member of the Heat. This weekend he picked up two tallies, including a helper, which brings his point total to 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists) in 20 games with the Heat.
Second Star - Aaron Dell: The rookie netminder held down the fort in an outstanding fashion this week as he allowed just four goals on 77 shots in two games. The Airdrie native posted a 0.949 save percentage in his two starts, picking up a win in Saturday's match against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Dell was released from his PTO on Sunday and will return to the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies.
Third Star - Derek Smith: As the go-to power play quarterback and a constant threat whenever he's on the ice, Derek Smith picked up three assists in three games this week. Smith has amassed 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in 23 games this season with Abbotsford.
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