Heat Report: 25.11.13
The Abbotsford Heat have been superb in November and are the top team in the AHL
There's not much going wrong for the Abbotsford Heat these days. The young squad have their cruise control set after going 4-0 this week and having won 13 of their last 14 games.
On Tuesday, the Heat overcame an early two goal deficit against the Milwaukee Admirals in a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory.
Entering the third period down 3-1, Markus Granlund chipped in his seventh of the year from Michael Ferland and Chad Billins. Midway through the final frame Greg Nemisz knotted it up at three apiece to force overtime.
Rookie Joni Ortio took first star honours as he turned away 37 of 40 shots in the game.
On Wednesday evening, the Heat drove south to take on the Rockford IceHogs. Their goal scoring ways continued as they toppled the Blackhawks' affiliate 4-2 thanks to another exceptional outing from Billins.
Billins, the crafty offensive defenceman, recorded three primary assists on goals from Ben Hanowski, Ferland and Brett Olson in the win. Ferland, who was named first star of the game, also continued his strong play as he recorded a goal and an assist.
Saturday marked the first time the Heat faced the new Iowa Wild franchise. Ortio and the Heat introduced themselves by shutting out the Wild 4-0.
Paul Byron led the way with a power play marker and two assists in the game. Second year pro Brady Lamb had himself an outstanding night as well picking up his first goal of the season as well as an assist. Rookies Corban Knight and Granlund also got on the board for the Heat.
Ortio thwarted all 25 chances for his first career AHL shutout.
Finally, the Heat finished off their spotless seven game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Wild on Saturday afternoon.
The Heat hope to extend their current four game winning streak this week when they face the Vancouver Canucks' affiliate Utica Comets on Friday and Saturday night from the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
1. Chad Billins - Another week, another batch of points for Chad Billins. The undrafted offensive defenceman continues to put numbers on the board for the Heat. This week, Billins collected seven assists in four games - six of which were primary helpers. The Michigan native sits at 19 points in 19 games and is now tied for the league lead in points by a blueliner.
2. Markus Granlund - Much like his team, Granlund is oozing with confidence and consistency right now. The Finnish rookie picked up two goals and three assists this week, including his first multi-point night of the season on Friday against the Iowa Wild. Granlund's flashy offensive abilities have gotten him eight goals and five assists for 13 points in his last 14 games. It has certainly been a month of November to remember for the Flames' second round pick in 2011.
3. Heat Goaltending - While the Heat's offence is amongst the most potent in the American league, their goaltending this week wasn't too shabby either. In four games this week, Joni Ortio and Joey MacDonald, splitting starts with two apiece, posted a spectacular 1.46 goals against average and a 0.959 save percentage. Ortio is boasting a flawless 9-0 record to start his season while MacDonald is 4-1 since being sent down from Calgary.
Explosive Power Play - The man advantage has been good to the Abbotsford Heat lately. In their seven game road trip they converted on 10 of their 25 opportunities. That's an incredible 40 per cent efficiency rating.
Nice November - To say Street has had a good month would be an understatement. He has collected 10 goals and 17 points in his last 13 games. He sits fourteenth in league scoring.
The Tops - The Abbotsford Heat are in sole possession of first place in the American league - five points ahead of the second place Manchester Monarchs.