Well the team took an early flight Tuesday morning down to the lone-star state of Texas after a less-than-desirable past weekend. The Heat dropped both games to their division rival Oklahoma City Barons.
Much like their NHL parent club Edmonton Oilers, the Barons are red-hot as well having won five consecutive games to pull into a tie with Houston for the West Division lead. The Heat trail both OK-City and Houston by just four points as they embark on their longest road trip of the season. This is an important part of the schedule for Abbotsford as the team plays all divisional opponents before returning home to play host to San Antonio. You can’t say enough about the month of November for the Heat. Let’s not forget, the top three seeds in the Western Conference playoff positioning are denoted to division leaders for home ice advantage. It’s hard to lead your division if you fail to beat teams from within.
Last Thursday, Abbotsford held a 2-0 lead going into the final period and dominated the play for the most part to that point only to have a momentary lapse. Oklahoma City scored goals 27 seconds apart to pull into a tie. With the Barons back in the game, the Heat quickly picked up the pace and got back to playing how they did through the first 40 minutes of play. Give credit to veteran goaltender Yann Danis who turned away numerous point-blank chances Abbotsford had to regain the lead. With just over two minutes remaining, an inadvertent high-stick by captain Quintin Laing sent the Barons to the power-play. Just over a minute into the man-advantage, the Heat had a great opportunity on a 2-on-1 to score but failed to capitalize on it. On the ensuing rush up the ice, the Barons made the most of it with Curtis Hamilton setting up Kevin Montgomery for a one-timer that beat Leland Irving.
On Saturday the Heat were looking for a measure of revenge after a heart-breaking defeat 48 hours earlier. Joni Ortio got the nod for his first start between the pipes this season (Irving had previously started 11 straight). His counter-part was Fernie, BC native David LeNeveu. Abbotsford jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead yet on goals from Ben Walter and Greg Nemisz who potted their fourth of the season each. Shortly after though Philippe Cornet struck on the power-play for the Barons before OK-City scoring leader Josh Green tied the game at the 11:18 mark. The teams traded goals in the middle frame (Green at 9:41) and (Nemisz on the power-play at 12:56). Nothing was doing in the third period so this game headed to overtime where Gilbert Brule blasted home his fourth of the season on a power-play to give the Barons yet another come-from-behind win in Abbotsford.
From a Heat standpoint, both games were tough pills to swallow given each night we held a 2-0 lead. Having said that, the team once again has a chance to right the ship Thursday evening against Houston. Last season the Heat went 3-0-0-1 against the Aeros, who were the bridesmaids in the Calder Cup final to the defending champion Binghamton Senators. Houston is 3-1-0-2 in six games at home heading into Thursday night’s affair against the Heat.
On the road Abbotsford is a sparkling 5-1. Let’s hope that good times are waiting!
Next Home Stand:
Your Abbotsford Heat come home after a long road trip to play against the San Antonio Rampage (NHL Affiliate: Florida Panthers):
Friday, November 25, 2011 at 7:00 PM – It’s Loonie Toonie Dog ‘n Brew Night ($2 Beers and $1 Hotdogs) – For tickets click here
Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 1:00 PM – For tickets click here
Catch every game with live game updates and contests on Abbotsford Heat’s Twitter from your very own Manveer Gill