AGD: Team America(ns)

Kent Wilson
November 16 2012 03:07PM

Time: 5:00pm

Location: Rochester, Blue Cross Arena

Broadcast: abbotsfordheat.com, teamradio.ca

The red hot Abbotsford Heat are in Rochester this afternoon to take on the Americans. Rochester is the Buffalo Sabres minor league affiliate and are fifth in the Western Conference with 17 points (despite suffering through some fairly mediocre goaltending).

The Heat's hot streak right now is uncanny - the club has that "can't be beaten" feel to it that randomly grips teams now and then. It is somewhat reminiscent of that run the Flames went on right after Darryl Sutter was deposed in 2010-11. Calgary was the hottest team in the league through about six weeks in January and February - one wonders if Darryl would have been spared had the organization simply waited a few weeks before firing him. Probably not.

While the Heat have seen a number of heroes pop up in the early going, Baary Brust was almost the sole architect of their recent B2B wins over Lake Erie. His two shut-outs means he has three (out of four) starts on the season and an unconcious .991 SV%. It is a streak even Brian Boucher would be proud of.  

The Line-up

Despite the recent success, the Heat's big guns have been more or less silenced the last few games. Roman Horak hasn't figured into the scoring in any of the last 4 games, while Sven Baertschi only marked the scoresheet thanks to an empty net goal on Tuesday night. Which isn't to say they are necessarily playing poorly - apparently Baertschi in particular has been knee deep in chances the last few outings - just that pucks aren't going in.

Sometimes that's enough for a coach to change things up. We'll see if Ward decides his scorers need a new look today or not. For now, we'll assume similar lines.

  • Baertschi - Walter - Horak
  • Kolanos - Byron - Sylvester
  • Olson - Street - Bancks
  • Ferland - Reinhart - Ruesegger

  • Brodie - Piskula
  • Breen - McCarthy
  • McKelvie - Lamb

  • Taylor

While the stars have mostly been blanked recently, Ben Street continues to collect points. He now has twelve on the season after garnering an assist on Olson's goal last game and 44 shots to boot. I don't know if he'll ever crack the big league, but he's been a quality signing for the Heat so far.

I've put Taylor down as the starter out of habit, but this could be the night Leland Irving finally gets another start.

The Opponent

Rochester has a umber of interesting characters on their roster, including former Canuck first rounder Cody Hodgson as well as recent first round pick Zemgus Girgensons (a player some thought the Flames might target). Girgensons is very young (18 years old) and played in the USHL last year, so this is big step up for him in terms of quality if competition. He is understandably struggling so far with four points in 13 games.

  • Flynn - Foligno - Rankin
  • Mancari - Adam - Sundher
  • Legault - Porter - Girgensons
  • Schofield - Tarnasky - Roy
  • Brennan - Biega
  • Pysyk - McNabb
  • Finlay - McKenzie
  • Leggio

Luke Adam spent 52 games in the NHL last year, but has been snakebitten in the AHL thus far with just 5 points through 13 games. Marcus Foligno, on the other hand, is leading the team in points with 13. The former 4th round pick has rocketed up the Sabres prospect chart recently, despite some altogether underwhelming numbers in his junior career (his best point total was 59 point in 47 games) and a just okay pro rookie season with Rochester last year (16 goals, 39 points in 60 games).

Part of the reason for the excitement is likely his size (6'3", 220 pounds) and the fact he scored 6 goals and 13 points in a 14 game call-up with Buffalo last year. I looked up his underlying numbers out of curiosity since it's odd to see a guy score at a better rate in the NHL than he has anywhere else...and found he had a PDO of 107 during those games, including an on-ice SH% of over 17% (!!). Sometimes you just get the bounces. 

Looks like his hot streak has extended to this season. That or the guy has taken a legitimate step forward.

On the back-end, the Sabres have to high-end prospects in Brrayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk playing together. McNabb was taken in the third round in 2009 and then proceeded to kill it in the WHL after that, culminating in a 72 point season for the Kottenay Ice. Pysyk was a first round pick out of Edmonton whose numbers a little more sedate, but who is expected to develop into more of a two-way defender than high-end offensive guy.

David Leggio will likely be in net. His .910 SV% is completely underwhelming but still leagues better than back-up Connor Knapp (0.882).

Sum It Up

The Heat are simply in the zone right now. The Americans certainly aren't an easy win given some of their weapons up front and on the back-end, but Abottsford is immortal right now. That can end at any time, because the hockey gods are fickle, but let's hoe it's not this evening.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#3 Steve
November 16 2012, 06:35PM
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Sven scores! That's good news. I was starting to wonder when that was going to happen again...

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#5 FireOnIce
November 16 2012, 06:47PM
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Not watching the game, but isn't Hodgson out with a broken hand?

2-1 for Abby?

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#6 Steve
November 16 2012, 06:48PM
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Sounds like Jankowski's having a pretty good night - he's been mentioned in a few tweets from the Friars website - slick moves, scored on another pretty passing play. Friars up 4-0.

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#7 FireOnIce
November 16 2012, 06:50PM
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I can't wait until mid-season when the Heat regress to the norm and the Oilers fans come out of the woodwork.

"Where's Baertschi now? Thought he was saving your franchise?"

"Cupboard's still bare bitches"

Hopefully the wheels don't fall off and the Barons end up last place.

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#8 Steve
November 16 2012, 06:52PM
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@FireOnIce

I'm really not looking forward to that, myself!

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#9 FireOnIce
November 16 2012, 06:53PM
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My post was laden with sarcasm.

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#10 Steve
November 16 2012, 06:57PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

My post was laden with sarcasm.

I realize that. I just REALLY hope it doesn't happen. The Heat may drop like a rock, but hopefully Sven will keep it up. I don't see any indication he won't.

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#13 FireOnIce
November 16 2012, 07:10PM
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@Kent Wilson

He plays in all situations too. Not surprised. If he plays 15+ minutes in the NHL most of the season, he is probably good to play 25+ minutes in the AHL. Brodie's getting some good conditioning.

Game tied 2-2 on Rochester PP goal. Sylvester in the box for tripping. 3:20mins into the third.

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#14 Steve
November 16 2012, 07:16PM
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Bit of a breakout game for Jankowski tonight. goal and two assists now in a 6-0 romp.

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#15 Baalzamon
November 16 2012, 07:17PM
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@Steve

1 goal, 2 assists (his linemate, Army, has a hattrick) +2, 3 shots.

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#16 Baalzamon
November 16 2012, 07:18PM
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Steve wrote:

Bit of a breakout game for Jankowski tonight. goal and two assists now in a 6-0 romp.

derp. you beat me.

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#17 Johny Bones
November 16 2012, 07:30PM
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How can Girgensons play pro if he's only 18 and just recently got drafted??

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#18 Johny Bones
November 16 2012, 07:35PM
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6 shots for Street I see. Guy certainly gets shots to the net when he's on the ice.

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#21 RexLibris
November 16 2012, 09:28PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Heat win 3-2 despite being outshot 38-21. Pretty amazing run.

Did Troy Ward steal Jon Cooper's juju?

I agree on Baertschi. From the sounds of it I expect that he'll post points regardless of the team.

He seemed to do it in Portland, so not a surprise he can do it here.

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#22 Baalzamon
November 16 2012, 10:02PM
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elsewhere, Gaudreau with 2 assists, Arnold and DeBlouw with 1 each.

Matt DeBlouw has been a nice surprise this season, has he not?

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#23 The Last Big Bear
November 17 2012, 05:39AM
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Shot count wildly flattered the Americans.

Heat had the edge in play for the last 50+ minutes of the game.

Baertschi's goal was so dirty that if it was on TV in Japan they'd have to blur it out.

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#24 ChinookArch
November 17 2012, 07:35AM
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If you haven't looked at the Flames website recently, its worth a peek. They posted The Best of October for the Heat. Some nice plays.

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#26 MC Hockey
November 17 2012, 07:03PM
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Nice to hear about the Heat's continual success...hopefully 7 or 8 of those guys make the Flames someday. I like the style of play of Sylvester

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