Week Preview: Games 30, 31, 32 vs. Utica Comets & Hamilton Bulldogs
Wednesday, December 18th- 4:00 PST- Utica Memorial Auditorium
Friday, December 20th- 4:00 PST- Utica Memorial Auditorium
Sunday, December 22nd- 12:00 PST- Copps Coliseum
Radio: CIVL RADIO 101.7FM
*Pre-Game Show begins 15 minutes prior puck-drop
Abbotsford, BC - Three games remain before members of the Abbotsford Heat go their separate ways for the Christmas Break. After finishing a six game home stand with a record of 3-2-1-0, the Heat head out on the road for three straight games. Last time they played away from the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) was on November 24th in Iowa. Fast forward more than three weeks, their 11 road wins still ranks number one in the league and no team has scored more goals on the road than the Heat with 54.
The Heat remain in first place in the Western Conference at 20-7-1-1 and 42 points and are just a single point back of Manchester for the league lead. All three games this week are against North Division opponents. This season the Heat are 7-3-1-0 against teams in that division.
HEAT @ COMETS (AHL AFFILIATE OF THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS)
After this week's two games in Utica between the Heat and Comets, the season series will be halfway over. Four of 12 meetings are in the books thus far, with both teams hosting a pair of games. Home ice advantage has meant little in the series, as the road team has won every single game thus far. It has been a very close and exciting season series for the fans as all four games have been decided by a single goal, with two decided in overtime.
The Heat power play has been a factor in all four games against the Comets, having scored in every game and has gone five for 16 over the four games. Overall, the Heat man advantage has scored at least once in 10 straight games, and has gone eight out of 19 in the post four games. The Heat currently lead the AHL in power play goals with 35.
The Comets are a much improved team since the Heat were last in Utica in late October. They have improved in all facets of their game, including in net, as Joe Cannata and Joacim Eriksson have only allowed five goals in the last three games combined. The two goaltenders have been busy when playing the Heat this season, facing 147 shots through four games. Cannata has faced the bulk of those shots, with three starts against Abbotsford this year.
At the Utica Memorial Auditorium this season, the Comets have struggled with a 3-8-1-1 record, but will have plenty of time of turn it around as they are currently in the midst of a season high seven game home stand.
HEAT @ BULLDOGS (AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens)
Sunday will be the second meeting of the year between the Heat and Bulldogs. Last time on November 2nd, the Heat staged a comeback to erase a two goal deficit and win in a shoot out. Blair Jones was outstanding for the Heat as he was named first star, scoring twice in regulation and once in the shoot out.
The Bulldogs currently sit in ninth place in the Western Conference with a record of 12-12-0-3 and 27 points, but are still just two points back of sixth place Milwaukee. No team has played more games at home than Hamilton to this point, and they currently hold a record of 8-8-0-2 at Copps Coliseum. Getting wins consistently has been a struggle as they have put together back to back wins on home ice just twice this season. Last week they suffered consecutive losses to the Toronto Marlies and St. Johns IceCaps.
Veteran forward Martin St.Pierre will be a player the Heat will have to keep an eye on. Although small in stature at 5'9", he leads the team with 24 points (6-18-24) in 24 games.
2013-14 Heat head to head stats vs. Utica Comets:
10/30/13- ABB 5 UTI 4 OT @ Utica Memorial Auditorium
11/01/13- ABB 4 UTI 3 @ Utica Memorial Auditorium
11/29/13- UTI 3 ABB 2 @ Abbotsford Sports & Entertainment Centre
11/30/13- UTI 4 ABB 3 OT @ Abbotsford Sports & Entertainment Centre
Individual leaders in season series:
ABB: Street: 4 points (1-3-4), Hanowski: 4 points (0-4-4), Granlund: 3 points (2-1-3), Ortio (3 GP, 2 wins, 1 loss, 58/65 saves)
UTI: Pelletier: 5 points (2-3-5), Ferriero 4 points (3-1-4), Hamill: 4 points (1-3-4), Cannata (3 GP, 2 wins, 1 loss, 98/107 saves)
2013-14 Heat head to head stats vs. Hamilton Bulldogs:
11/02/13- ABB 3 HAM 2 S/O @Copps Coliseum
Individual leaders in season series:
ABB: Jones: 2 points (2-0-2), Reinhart 1 point (0-1-1), Ortio (1 GP, 1 win, 35/37 saves)
HAM: St. Pierre: 1 point: (1-0-1), Courtnall 1 point (1-0-1), Beaulieu 1 point (0-1-1)
NEWS & NOTES
Markus Granlund enters Wednesday's game on an 11 game point streak, which is the longest active streak in the AHL. Over the 11 game span, Granlund has recorded 14 points (6-8-14) and is on a four game goal scoring streak. He currently sits third in rookie scoring with 23 points (12-11-23).
Chad Billins enters this week on a five game assist streak. He leads all AHL defenseman in assists with 19 and is tied with T.J. Brennan of the Toronto Marlies in points with 25.
On Wednesday, Sven Baertschi is expected to play in his first game with the Heat this season. The Switzerland native was assigned by the Calgary Flames last Thursday. A season ago he recorded 26 points (10-16-26) in 32 games as a rookie.
Michael Ferland did not make the road trip as he is back home nursing an injury. To fill the void, the Heat recalled forward David Eddy from the Alaska Aces.
Milestones will be achieved this week by a pair of Heat forwards. On Sunday in Hamilton, Ben Street will play in his 200th regular season AHL game, while Brett Olson will play in his 100th regular season AHL game.
Brandon Astle will bring all live Heat action this weekend on 101.7 CIVL FM and on www.teamradio.ca. The pre-game show begins 15 minutes before puck drop.
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American Hockey League Stories from December 17, 2013
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