Print Edition: December 7, 2011
Following a three-game losing streak, the Abbotsford Heat found their stride last weekend against the Chicago Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs. The Heat played on three consecutive nights, managing to come away with three victories.
Leland Irving was the difference in the first victory on Friday against the Wolves, as he stopped 28 of 20 shots, and turned away four of five shots in a shootout. The game was a confidence builder, as Irving had previously been pulled twice in his last three starts – in part due to the fact that the Heat defense was missing TJ Brodie.
Friday’s match was also the debut for Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Brett Carson, both signed by the Flames the week prior. Carson, whose time with the Heat will be limited, as he is on a conditioning stint, is currently recovering from a back injury. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, on the other hand, is likely to spend some time playing with the Heat. Standing at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Letourneau-Leblond is a force to be reckoned with on the fourth line, playing with Gaelan Patterson and Raitis Ivanans – a line that weighs a collective 657 pounds.
Another new member of the Abbotsford Heat that saw playing time this weekend is goaltender Danny Taylor. Taylor joins the Heat after spending most of last season playing for the Hamburg Freezers in the German Elite League. Taylor signed a professional contract with the Heat on December 1, 2011. In the 2010-2011 season, Taylor put up a 0.905 save percentage, and 2.90 goals against average. Taylor played his first game as a member of the Abbotsford Heat last Sunday, standing tall for a 3-1 victory against the Chicago Wolves, while making 25 saves.
With the win, the Heat improved to an impressive 16-8-1-0 on the season. Their record puts them in a tie with the Oklahoma City Barons for first place in the AHL. This is quite an amazing feat, considering the team failed to make the playoffs last year, and came into the season with low expectations. To date, the Heat have found success in spite of questioning early on. Prior to the start of the season, Ryan Walter put it simply: “Troy Ward is going to open up the gates. His team is going to go… create more offense, be in the offensive zone rather than wait for people to come back into our zone.” At this point in the season, it appears that Walter was right.
The main concern, however, so far in the season is the inability to win at home. It seems as though the Heat are a completely different team while they’re on the road. For whatever reason, they have not been able to bring that game back to Abbotsford. What ever is the cause, it is not great for a team that has had great difficulty in selling seats – even with $2 beer on Friday nights.
The Heat are returning from the road on this Friday for a pair of games against the Lake Erie Monsters.