After the Abbotsford Heat dropped two games in a row to the Oklahoma City Barons last weekend, the Providence Bruins were in town for a two game set. The Bruins are one of the older clubs in the AHL and recently participated in the AHL’s version of the Winter Classic against the Connecticut Wale in sub-zero temperatures in Connecticut at Rentschler Field. The Bruins also have Zach Hamill, a local boy that used to play in the WHL for the Everett Silvertips. He got his first game in the NHL last year and has played three games in the show for Boston this year, accumulating two NHL points. He has also played some of his best hockey with the Providence Bruins these last two years and could make a permanent jump into the NHL as early as next season. Boston Bruins General manager Peter Chiarelli was in the press box for this contest to check on his prospects while the Boston Bruins were staying in Vancouver for four days awaiting their Saturday night contest with the Canucks.
After The Providence Bruins gave the Heat a 4-0 beating last Friday (their inaugural one dollar hot dog night), and with Heat coach Jim Playfair unavailable for comment after the game, I had a chance to chat with Zach Hamill, who was the game’s third star. “That was one of our better games of the year,” said Hamill. “Obviously that first period we scored early and we kept going from there, you know? We took a lot of shots and we scored on opportunities.” When I asked him if having Peter Chiarelli in the building for the game had anything to do with their trouncing of the Heat, he simply replied with a smile on his face and said “I don’t know. You never know, but either way we were flying out there tonight.”
I also had a chance to ask Hamill about his experience with the AHL outdoor game. “It was cold, it was freezing, the warm up was the coldest part, but it was pretty cool, good atmosphere and it was fun, but at the same time, it was absolutely freezing!” Hamill had two points in the outdoor game. Hamill said he had roughly 25 people out to support him that night in Abbotsford, who don’t otherwise get to see many Providence Bruins games due to distance and schedule. “It was nice for their support and for them to see a good game and see us get the win.”
The following night the Heat was looking to dish a little pay back to the Bruins for the 4-buzz drubbing they took the night before, and did they ever. The Heat came out with five unanswered goals in the first two periods of this game. Then, after giving up two in the third, they added one more to put the dagger in the Bruins, splitting the weekend series one apiece. Stephan Meyer had a hat trick and an assist for a four-point night and Ales Kotalik had four assists in the 6-2 victory.
The Heat are on the road for five games before they return to the AESC to faceoff with the Pittsburgh Penguins farm club, W-B Scranton (for you Office fans) on March 11. Don’t forget to look for student deals on Abbotsford Heat tickets.
In the tight North division playoff race the Abbotsford Heat are sitting in fifth place and four points out of the final playoff spot. The Moose and the Marlies are starting to pull away, but the Heat is still in the race with 13 of their games left against divisional opponents. Maybe a little fan support would help? With Heat forward Greg Nemisz being called up to the big club in Calgary, the big question has to be asked; if Kotalik keeps up his play making points, will he be called up to the Flames after the deadline? The Abbotsford Heat is 28-24-3-5 at week’s end.