The Abbotsford Heat have locked up a playoff berth in the American Hockey League Calder Cup Playoffs. We know that for a fact. Whom they will play or when they will play still hangs in the balance. We’ll know for certain after this weekend’s set of games here at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre when the Heat host the Toronto Marlies.
Yes, those dreaded Maple Leafs fans are salivating at a chance to see their baby Leafs for the first time in over a year.
Last time these teams met here in Abbotsford, the Heat dusted off the Marlies in both games by scores of 4-1 and 3-0. Leland Irving picked up both wins for the Heat.
Expect a lot of action surrounding this weekend. Let’s start off with Friday night, the first game between these two teams, it’s the final Loonie/Toonie ‘Dog & Brew Night where you can get $1 hot dogs and $2 beer. Following the game, Victoria Duffield (a rising pop star) will be performing a post-game concert on the ice much like country star Aaron Pritchett did a few weeks back.
On Sunday, it’s Fan Appreciation Day at the AESC when the Heat close out the regular season with a 1pm face-off. In the morning there will be a pancake breakfast just outside main doors starting at 11:30am along with the lovely Natasha Zimbaro performing LIVE before she sings the national anthem.
Over 5,000 prizes will be given away on Sunday! Among those are a Honda Civic, sponsored by the Abbotsford News and Honda Way, Shaw Gateway and Portal plus TV, 1,000 thundersticks, 1,000 rally towels, 50 cowbells, Home Depot gift cards, Tim Horton’s gift cards, Heat team posters…the list goes on and on. Make sure you don’t miss out!
Following the game, Heat players will give their jersey off their backs to some lucky fans randomly drawn. Also, Heat wives & girlfriends have been working diligently leading up to Sunday afternoon for Cuts For The Cure. You can get your head shaved in support of the BC Cancer Foundation for a $50 donation. You can also sponsor a Heat player and shave his head yourself for $500. It all goes to a great cause.
The Heat will be looking to secure fourth spot in the Western Conference and home ice advantage when the post-season begins. Meanwhile after the Maples Leafs cleaned out their lockers earlier this week, missing the playoffs for the seventh straight season, the Marlies have reached the playoffs for the first time in two years and are looking to claim top spot and leap-frog over the Oklahoma City Barons. Both teams are currently tied with 95 points.
21-year old defenseman Jake Gardiner is one to keep an eye on for the Marlies. The 2008 first-round draft pick of the Anaheim ducks played 75 games with the Leafs this season registering seven goals and 23 assists. He was acquired with Joffrey Lupul and a 2013 fourth-round choice for Francois Beauchemin.
Abbotsford is looking for its first win this season over Toronto after losing both to the Marlies earlier this season. The Heat are 9-6-1-2 all-time against their former North Division rival opponents and are a sparkling 5-1-0-2 here in Abbotsford.