Preview: Heat's 3-in-3 weekend
AUSTIN, TX -- The Abbotsford Heat conclude their 12-day road trip with three games in Texas this weekend. The Heat will face their former West Division rivals in Austin (Texas Stars), San Antonio and Houston in less than 48 hours, with top spot in the AHL on the line.
Abbotsford (10-2-1-2) saw their seven game point streak snapped in Toronto on Sunday, suffering just their second regulation loss of the season. The Heat sit in second place in the Western Conference, one point behind the Charlotte Checkers with a game in hand. The Heat carry a 2-2-0-1 record away from the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) this season, and this weekend will be their first action on the road against South Division teams.
The Heat penalty kill remains the top unit in the American Hockey League, having allowed just four goals against over 59 enemy power plays (93.2%), while adding three short-handed goals. The Heat power play has been effective on home ice (26.8%) this season, but has yet to score on the road on twenty opportunities.
Heat netminder Barry Brust sits just 18 minutes and 10 seconds off the AHL all-time record for consecutive shutout minutes, which was set in 1957-58 by Johnny Bower at 249 minutes and 51 seconds. Brust has posted three straight shutouts this season, and has allowed just a single goal on 106 shots.
Brust isn’t the only puck-stopper with a hot-hand. Texas Stars netminder Cristopher Nilstorp posted back-to-back shutouts for the Stars this season, before allowing six goals against the Oklahoma City Barons on Wednesday night.
The Heat will face the co-leader in franchise all-time points scoring, Jon Rheault, on Saturday in San Antonio. Rheault signed with the Florida Panthers organization last summer after three seasons with the Heat. With a single point, Heat centre Ben Walter will pass Rheault, who posted 72 points in 131 games, for sole possession of the record. Friday will be Walter’s 90th game in Heat colours.
Sunday will be a homecoming of sorts for multiple members of the Heat. Head coach Troy G. Ward and assistant coach Luke Strand both previously worked for the Aeros as assistant coaches, while Brust also played in Houston for three seasons.
All three Texas sides currently sit outside of playoff position in the Western Conference. Last season the Heat compiled a record of 8-3-0-1 in the Lone Star State, finishing second in the West Division ahead of the Stars, Rampage and Aeros.
The next home action for the Heat is Friday, November 30th and Saturday, December 1st when they host the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens). Friday’s game sees the Heat honour Hockey Hall of Fame member Yvan Cournoyer in the second edition of the Heat’s “Legends of Hockey” series, while Saturday’s game is the annual “Pucks and Paws” game, where fans are invited bring their dogs to the rink.
For more information on the mid-week set and purchase tickets, visit www.AbbotsfordHeat.com or call 1 877 452-HEAT(4328).