Time: 8:00pm MST
Location: Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre
Broadcast: abbotsfordheat.com, teamradio.ca
Abbotsford is back home after an extended road trip that featured not a lot of scoring, but still a lot of points just the same (7 of a possible 10). They now sit atop the Western Conference standings with 28 points.
Things have not gone as well for the Hamilton Bulldogs since the last time the two teams met. After defeating the Heat 2-1 in extra time at the end of October, the Bulldogs have lost 7 of their last 10 games and fallen to the bottom of the Western Conference. Also, Blake Geoffrion suffered severe head trauma a few weeks ago, causing him to exit the line-up indefinitely.
So it was a pretty rough November for Montreal’s AHL affiliate. Remember Patrick Holland, the former Flames 7th rounder who was dealt in the Rene Bourque trade and was one of the team’s scoring leaders to start the year? Well, he sits at five points in 16 games now. Heck, even top rated defensive prospect Nathan Beaulieu has managed just two points in 15 games. It’s been a total power outage for Hamilton in the early going this season.
Okay, I swear Greg Nemisz is going to be in the lineup this weekend. Maybe even tonight! Where he lands? That’s far less certain.
- Baertschi – Walter – Horak
- Olson – Street – Nemisz
- Sylvester – Byron – Estoclet
- Laing – Reinhart – Ruesegger
- Brodie – Piskula
- Breen – McCarthy
- Callahan – Lamb
Primary guys like Brodie, Walter and Baertschi didn’t see much ice in the third period of the loss to the Aeros. It could be Ward was displeased with his top liners, or that they were all simply wiped out after three games in three days. If the line combinations change this evening, we can safely say it was the former rather than the latter.
As mentioned, no one can really score on the Bulldogs right now. The team is lead by pro rookie Brandon Gallagher with six goals and 10 points. No other player is even in double digits yet.
- Blunden – Dumont – Gallagher
- Pulashaj – Bournival – Holland
- Leblanc – Boyce – Quailer
- Hagel – Nattinen – Avtsin
- Tinordi – Ellis
- Beaulieu – St. Denis
- Corbin – Nash
Aside from Beaulieu, other high-end prospects include Louis Leblanc and Jared Tinordi. Leblanc has only appeared in four games this season, while the towering Tinordi is getting his feet wet on the back-end.
Another reason Hamilton has lost so often so far is their goaltending. Probable starter Robert Mayer has the best save percentage of any BD goalie so far…and he’s sitting at .893. Yuck. When you can’t score or keep pucks out of your net, "W’s" are hard to come by.
Sum It Up
Hamilton probably isn’t this bad, but for now it seems their luck is rotten at both ends of the ice. The Heat haven’t been tearing up the scoresheets recently, but their goaltending and PK continue to be top notch. The Bulldogs represent a good chance to keep that going (and maybe get the scoring going to) and to improve a league best record to boot.