Heat Report: 07.10.13
Mike Cadarette reports from Abbotsford
OPENING WEEKEND SPLIT
The Heat opened their 2013-14 campaign with a win and a loss on the road against the Lake Erie Monsters.
On Friday night, the Heat prevailed 5-3 with a strong performance from their young forwards and their offensive-minded defencemen. Blueliners Chad Billins and Drew MacKenzie opened the scoring for the Heat in the second period to give the Heat a 2-1 lead.
Then the forwards took over as Ben Hanowski picked up two goals while Josh Jooris, the game's first star, finished with a goal and an assist in his first pro game. Meanwhile, Paul Byron collected two helpers and Reto Berra held the Monsters to just two goals as he picked up his first professional victory.
In Saturday's rematch, the Monsters edged the Heat 3-2 despite a strong performance from the young forwards once again.
Knight potted his first goal in the American league just 0:31 seconds into in the game. Sophomore pro Max Reinhart netted the team's second goal.
Unfortunately, the power play unit couldn't get it going as they went 0/8 on the man advantage.
The Heat face off in their home opener against the Nashville Predators-affiliate Milwaukee Admirals on Friday and Saturday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
THE NEW PRO
Patrick Sieloff had his eyes set on making the Flames opening day roster from the beginning, but he never expected the Flames to ask him to turn pro right away.
"Coming into camp I thought that I'd either be going back to junior or hopefully making the team, at best. Then halfway through camp they said I was ready to make the next step. That was pretty big for me. It helped my confidence level in the way you go about things on the ice. At the same time, it just comes down to hard work."
And that's the very definition of the 19-year-old's style: hard work.
Even with the added expectations from Flames management, the heavy hitting rearguard isn't phased by it. In fact, he thrives under pressure.
"I like that," said Sieloff. "I think it feeds into me with the way I play, that confidence and then that level of expectations. For me, it's just playing my game. I'm not going to get a lot of points, I'm not going to make the flashy plays. For me, it's keeping it simple, which is perfect. All I've got to do is play a simple game."
Now with the Abbotsford Heat, Sieloff looks to keep the same "no friends" attitude that got him to the pro ranks and one day carry it into Calgary.
BACK IN THE LOWER MAINLAND
It's been over four years since Tyler Wotherspoon last played a hockey game in the Lower Mainland, but the Surrey, BC native says it's nice to be home.
"It's great to see all the guys again. It's great to be in a city where all your friends and family can watch you play. It's going to be a great year playing down here to experience that and I'm looking forward to it."
With a career +97 as a Portland Winterhawk, Wotherspoon is no slouch in his own end, but for the defensive stalwart, it's all about gaining that all-important pro experience.
"Pro hockey's a different animal down here and up there. So coming down here you get a lot of experience, a lot of playing time. I've got to get a lot quicker and just develop the other side of my game. I've got to get adjusted to the pro life and just keep working hard."
In two games, Wotherspoon has collected one an assist with the Heat.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Danny Taylor and Barry Brust were arguably the best goaltending duo in the American league last year, so trying to fill their shoes is going be a difficult task for any goalie. But Heat goalie coach Jordan Sigalet likes what he sees from his new, young crop of net-minders in the early going.
"With [Reto] Berra you love his size and athleticism for a big guy. Then you have Joni [Ortio] and also Laurent [Brossoit], so it's nice to have some young guys, some eager guys.
"I got a taste of Joni a couple of years ago when he started here. You can tell he's matured as a goalie. He's come back and his work ethic is much better. His game has even matured as well. So it's exciting. It's three new guys we'll have and they all have different styles in the way they play, so I'm going to learn a lot from them as well … But it's nice to have three new guys and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
As the man responsible for helping to develop the young goalies, Sigalet likes what he has to work with this season and sees an excellent foundation from which to work.
"A guy gets to this level and they got here for a reason, so you can't take a cookie cutter approach to those guys. You've got to work to their strengths and work towards what's going to work for them and what's not. They both have their different styles of play and so we're just going to keep building on their strengths and the little weaknesses that they have will just be small adjustments."
Reto Berra performed well in his first two games last weekend. The 26-year-old posted a 0.924 save percentage and a 2.53 goals against average as he turned away 61 of 66 shots.