Preview: Heat head out on longest road swing of the season
ABBOTSFORD, BC -- After winning all four home games last week, the Abbotsford Heat are in first place in the AHL and have matched a franchise record of seven consecutive regular season wins. In the 2011-12 season, the Heat won seven in a row to end the regular season (from 03/30/12-04/15/12) and then won four more in the playoffs to set the all-time win streak at 11 games. The streak will face a strong test starting on Wednesday with the team playing seven road games in 12 days.
During the win streak, third periods have been the difference for the Heat. They have outscored their opponents 9-4 in the last seven games in the third period, winning six of the seven games by only one goal.
HEAT @ STARS
No question the one blemish on the Heat schedule this season was back on October 20th against the Texas Stars: with the game tied at 3-3 after two periods, the Stars exploded for six third period goals, including four on the power play, en route to a 9-3 victory. Since then, the Heat are 8-1 and have moved into first place in American Hockey League, while the Stars are 4-4 and sit in second place in the West division at 8-4-2-0. After a four game losing streak, the Stars have rattled off three straight wins and have scored 17 goals in that span.
The Stars have the league’s leading scorer in Travis Morin, who has 24 points in 13 games. Morin was recalled by the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and will not play against the Heat. Texas is the highest scoring team in the AHL with 55 goals and leads the league in goal differential at plus 20. It will be important for the Heat to stay out of the box on Wednesday, as the Stars have the league’s top power play on home ice currently operating at 40.6%.
HEAT @ BARONS
Friday and Saturday night will be the third and fourth meetings of the year between the Heat and Barons. The previous two games were on Oct.18th and 19th in Oklahoma City, with the teams splitting the series. The Barons are 6-6-0-2, sitting third in the West Division and seventh in the Western Conference. The Barons are coming off a 3-2 win over San Antonio, in which former Heat forward Roman Horak scored his first goal in a Barons uniform.
Friday night’s game will be of great interest to the hockey world, as Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to make his first start with OKC after signing a one year contract with the Edmonton Oilers on November 8th. Bryzgalov is currently with the Barons on a conditioning assignment.
2013-2014 Heat vs. Stars season series:
10/20/13- TEX 9 ABB 3 @ Cedar Park Center
Heat vs. Stars individual scoring leaders in season series:
ABB: D- Billins (1-0-1), F- Nemisz (1-0-1), D- Wotherspoon (1-0-1)
TEX: F- Sceviour (3-2-5), F- Morin (1-3-4), F- Mueller (1-2-3), F- McKenzie (1-2-3)
2013-2014 Heat vs. Barons season series:
10/18/13- OKC 4 ABB 3 @ Cox Convention Center
10/19/13- ABB 2 OKC 1 S/O @ Cox Convention Center
2013-2013 individual scoring leaders in season series (returning players):
ABB: F- Byron (1-1-2), F- Granlund (0-2-2), F- Olson (1-0-1), D- Billins (1-0-1), F- Hanowski (1-0-1)
OKC: F- Omark (2-2-4), F- Lander (1-2-3), F- Nesbitt (1-1-2), F- Pitlick (0-2-2)
NEWS & NOTES
This upcoming seven game road-trip is the most consecutive games the Heat will play away from home this season. November also features nine road games, which is the most the Heat play in a single month.
Markus Granlund enters Wednesday night on a four game point streak. He scored on a penalty shot in the third period on Saturday against the Marlies to extend his streak. Michael Ferland is also on a roll, as he has recorded four points in his last two games.
Brandon Astle will bring all live Heat action this week on 101.7 CIVL FM and on www.teamradio.ca. The pre-game show begins 15 minutes before puck drop.