Preview: Heat head out on three-game road swing
The Abbotsford Heat close their pre-holiday portion of the 2012-13 schedule this week with three games against Midwest Division teams. Wednesday morning the Chicago Wolves (AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) will host the Heat for their school day game at 9:00 AM PST (11:00 AM CST). The Heat then play back-to-back road games against the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) and Rockford Icehogs (AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks) on Friday and Saturday night.
The Heat enter the road trip tied for top spot in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference with 36 points in 26 games. Abbotsford defeated the Texas Stars (AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars) 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday night, with Barry Brust stopping 39 of 40 shots. Krys Kolanos scored in regulation and the shootout to help the Heat split the two game series with the Stars. The Heat hold a road record of 5-2-1-2 this season.
With five of their next ten games against the Chicago Wolves, the Heat will resume their rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks affiliate on Wednesday. Chicago has won three straight games and sit just a single point from the Midwest Division lead, despite being without the services of Eddie Lack and Steve Pinizzotto since November 24th. The Heat have earned three of a possible four points against the Wolves this season.
The Grand Rapids Griffins lead the Midwest Division with 28 points, but have been shutout in each of their last two games. The Griffins face the Heat for the first of four meetings this season on Friday night at the Van Andel Arena. Slovakian Tomas Tatar and Swede Gustav Nyquist each have 21 points in 24 games this season to lead the Griffins in scoring.
The Rockford IceHogs are winless in their last four games, but still hold down the final playoff position in the Western Conference. The IceHogs host the Heat on Saturday, the last day of AHL play before the holidays. Rookie defenceman Adam Clendening has 20 points in 24 games, placing him in the top five AHL defenders and top six among AHL rookies.
Brust begins the road trip with a record of 8-1-1 this season, with his two losses coming in overtime and a shootout. Brust leads the AHL with a 1.17 GAA and a .953 SAV%. Brust has started three of the last four games for the Heat.
The next home action for the Heat comes on January 4th and 5th, when the Rochester Americans (AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres) make their first of two trips to Abbotsford this season. The Heat will also host the Chicago Wolves (AHL Affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) on January 11th and 12th in the Wolves’ final visit to Abbotsford this season. For more information on the team, and to purchase tickets, visit www.AbbotsfordHeat.com or call 1 877 452-HEAT(4328).