by Justin Orlewicz (Sports Editor)
The Abbotsford Heat opened up their Second AHL season on the road with a 3-2 shootout win against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Goals for the Heat came from Carter Bancks and Matt Keith, while Staffan Kronwall had the shootout winner.
The Heat then traveled to Milwaukee to play the Admirals, where they would get their first loss of the season. The final score was 6-2, as only Greg Nemisz and Cam Cunning scored for the Abbotsford team. After only one day of rest, the Heat faced off against the Marlies in Toronto, making this their third game in four nights. It didn’t seem to faze the Heat, as they went on to Beat the Marlies 3-2, with goals coming from Keith, Nemisz and Cunning.
After starting the season with three games on the road, the Heat would get 3 days of rest before their home opening weekend series with the Rockford Ice Hogs. To 5,341 home fans, the Abbotsford Heat unveiled a very different looking team than they had on the ice last season, with all sorts of theatrics and special guests to kick off the new season. Unfortunately, The Rockford Ice Hogs would spoil the Heat home opener by blowing them out 5-0. The Heat didn’t go down without a fight, though, as the fans were treated to three great fights. Two of them ended heavily in favour of the Heat combatant.
The following night the Heat would come out with a little more spark against the Ice Hogs and took the game to overtime and eventually a shootout. They would ultimately lose again, but this time in a much more respectable fashion. The final score was 4-3 with the Heats goals coming from John Armstrong, Matt Keith and the local boy Keith Seabrook. This years Abbotsford Heat team is missing a lot of its pieces from last years second round playoff team. Jason Jaffray has been traded to the Anaheim Ducks and is now playing in their farm system. To make matters worse, because of the dismal roster of the Calgary Flames, both Mikael Backlund and Brett Sutter have been called up to play with them. Garth Murray and Carson Germyn have also signed with other teams. To put it simply, there are a lot of new faces in the Heat’s lineup.
Lucky for the Heat, they had a lot of injuries during last year’s season and playoffs which forced them to call up some of their ECHL and CHL prospects, who performed marvelously at the end of the season and in the playoffs. Most of the kids that were called up last season have now earned themselves full time spots on the Heat this season. Some of the new youngsters to watch for are Lance Bouma, Carter Bancks, Mitch Wahl and Jon Rheault. The Heat also acquired AHL journeyman and local boy Matt Keith. The Abbotsford Heat have now got three road games before they return home on October 25 for a series with the Rochester Americans. The Heats record is 2-2-0-1, and they sit fourth in the Northern Division.