Heat Report: 21.11.11
An update on the Flames AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat
The Abbotsford Heat have ridden their great road record to the top of the American Hockey League standings as their longest road trip of the season has wrapped-up.
The Heat (13-5-1-0) are tied at 27 points with the St. John’s IceCaps (Winnipeg Jets affiliate) and though St. John’s does have one fewer game played, Abbotsford has made a name for itself as the best in the West and a team to reckon with on the road.
Their record on their recent road swing through the Midwest and southern U.S. was 6-1-0. Their only loss came against the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers affiliate) 4-1 but the Heat closed out the trip Sunday night with a 1-0 shootout victory over the Houston Aeros, giving them a total road record of 11-2-0-0.
In their 1-0 shootout win Sunday evening, the Heat’s Leland Irving made 34 saves in regulation and overtime, and then stopped all five shootout attempts.
Irving was airtight in the shootout stopping all five attempts against, while Dustin Sylvester was the lone player to score all night when he put the puck into the top right corner of the Houston net as the fourth shooter for the Heat in the shootout.
Irving now leads the AHL in shutouts with his third blank sheet, while he also is the leader in wins (13), minutes played (1,022) and shootout wins (three). His goals against average is a stingy 1.94 to go with his .927 save percentage.
Last Saturday when Krys Kolanos wasn’t in the line-up of the Abbotsford Heat versus Texas Stars some team followers began to question the move, wondering if he had been released. Instead, it was Kolanos’ original Professional Tryout Offer that had expired and hadn’t yet put ink to paper on a new deal.
Last Monday the Heat officially announced that Kolanos has indeed signed a Standard Player Contract with the AHL club, though details were not disclosed.
The 30-year-old Calgary native has amassed nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in just 10 games since joining the Heat on Oct. 28 after missing close to two years recovering from hip surgery.
“[It’s] one of the first stages in his comeback,” said Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward. “The first was to prove he’s healthy. Second, earn a contract and the third, working his way back to being a perennial player in the AHL.”
Kolanos netted 63 points in 65 games for the Quad City Flames in 2007-08. He has 198 points in 167 career AHL games to go with his 41 points in 136 NHL contests with the Phoenix Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild.
Calgary’s 2008 second-round selection Mitch Wahl is on his way to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL on loan for the rest of the season.
Wahl had struggled to earn a spot on the Heat this season, stuck behind unprecedented depth at center.
"Our situation has changed dynamically, with the fact that we've had some older players who have come in and complimented the younger players,” Abbotsford’s head coach Troy Ward told Dan Kinvig of the Abbotsford News. “With all those moves in the off-season, it became tougher for Mitch to get ice time."
Wahl had earned five goals and two assists in five games with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies though was pointless in five contests with the Heat this year.
The Heat continued their roster shuffling, looking for the perfect fit amongst the bottom six, reassigning Logan MacMillan to the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL) while calling up Justin Dowling to the Heat.
MacMillan, a 2007 first-round choice of the Anaheim Ducks, had just one assist in seven games for Abbotsford this season and struggled to draw into the line-up.
Dowling had two goals and nine assists for 11 points in 12 games with the ECHL’s Grizzlies before his call up on Thursday. Last season after signing a late-season Amateur Tryout Offer Dowling picked up a goal and three assists in eight games with the Abbotsford Heat. He has no points in three games so far this year.
Next up for the Heat is a two-game home stand against the San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers affiliate) Friday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 27. Abbotsford defeated San Antonio in their only match-up this year 4-0 in Texas.
Then, the Heat head back on the road, where they’ve been so successful, for another four-game road trip.