AGD: Heat Battle the Monsters

Time: 5:30 pm MST

Location: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

Broadcast: Abbotsfordheat.com (streaming), Teamradio.ca

The Abbotsford Heat have yet to lose in regulation so far this season and they’ll look to extend that streak tonight in Cleveland versus the Lake Erie Monsters. The Colorado affiliate is 4-2-0 so far this year, with both losses coming against the Oilers baby team, the Oklahoma City Barons.

As Ryan mentioned below, the lone Flames connection with Lake Erie is former Calgary farm-hand David Van Der Gulik – a favorite of mine when he was plying his trade in the organization thanks to his underrated overall game. Van Der Gulik has seen some games at the NHL level for the Avalanche since leaving the Flames, but is more or less the consummate "AHL veteran" at this point.

The Lineup

 

Lance Bouma is down for the count, so expect one of David Eddy, Brett Olson or Michael Ferland to check in on one of the lower lines. In addition, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone like Quintin Laing was sat in favor of Krys Kolanos. The Heat’s leading scorer last year was a victim of the "max veteran rule" last game (plus a sloppy defensive performance from the player in the games predeceeding).

  • Baertschi – Walter – Sylvester
  • Street – Kolanos – Ruesegger
  • Horak – Reinhart – Bancks
  • Estoclet – Olson(?) – Aliu
  • Brodie – Piskula
  • McCarthy – Breen
  • McKelvie – Lamb/Callahan
  • Taylor

Troy Ward claimed Leland Irving would get a chance to play in one of this weekend’s back-to-back-to-back games, but as of right now I’m not sure if his start will be tonight or not. For now, I’ll default to Taylor who has played 3 of the Heat’s 4 games.

The Opponent

Finding line combos for AHL teams is fairly difficult, so I’m going to have to wing it based on some AHL gamesheets.

  • Lerg – Agozzino – Walker
  • Malone – Olver – Thomas
  • Van Der Gulik – Carey – Heard
  • Bordeleau – Sgarbossa – Thomas
  • Pock – Barrie
  • Elliot – Stollery
  • Gaunce – Goers
  • Pickard

The Monsters are lead in scoring by Mark Olver (five points) and free agent signing Andrew Aggozino (five points). Aggozino is an interesting case: he scored 66, 74 and 88 points in his last three junior seasons for the OHL’s Niagra Ice Dogs, including 37, 43 and 40 goals respectively, but was never picked in the NHL entry draft. It will be interesting to see what kind of pro he turns out to be.  

On the back-end, both Thomas Pock (seven points) and Tyson Barrie (five points) are having a nice start to the year. Pock has flirted with the NHL in the past, spending a lot of time in the Rangers organization. At 30 years old, though, he’s an AHL lifer at this point. Barrie, on the other hand, is just 21 and a former third round pick of the Avs who put some monster seasons points-wise in the WHL, including a 19 goals and 72 points in 63 games for Kelowna back in 2009-10. He managed 32 points in just 49 games in his pro debut last year for Lake Erie, so is definitely a guy to look out for on the back-end.

In goal will likely be Calvin Pickard, brother of former first round pick Chet Pickard of the Nashville Predators (who has since spent two seasons in the ECHL. Don’t pick goalies in the first round folks). Calvin’s pro start has been a little stronger, with the kid sporting a .948 SV% in four starts so far.

Sum it Up

It’s going to be a long weekend for the Heat with three consecutive games starting tonight. Abbotsford boasts the highest goals for per game in the Western Conference so far (4/game), while Lake Erie has only surrendered 11 goals in six games (1.83/game), in part thanks to that dazzling save rate put up by Pickard. Here’s hoping Baertschi and boys can deflate that number a bit and continue to put pucks in the net tonight.