It’s December now.
If that doesn’t depress you a bit, I don’t know what will. While it’s unlikely that the NHL will return before 2013, there is still lots of hockey afoot. Can the Heat continue their winning ways? What college or junior players will step up?
HEAT SPLIT WITH BULLDOGS, RECALL HOWSE
It was a tale of two games on the weekend for the Abbotsford Heat.
On Saturday, the Heat were very good, beating the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-1. They scored four times on the power-play and got goals from five different scorers – Ben Street, Ben Walter, Quintin Laing, Roman Horak and Sven Baertschi. Barry Brust got another win. Life was good.
However, Baertschi and Walter left the game early with injuries and weren’t available for the Heat on Saturday. Consequently, the Heat lost 3-0 in the second game with the Bulldogs. They didn’t get any bounces and Max Reinhart was particularly snake-bit, getting robbed by Hamilton goalie Cedrick Desjardins at least twice and hitting at least one post.
As of this writing, the Heat were short six injured forwards – Baertschi, Walter, Michael Ferland, David Eddy, Akim Aliu and Lance Bouma. To help out, the club recalled Ryan Howse from the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies on Sunday night. The Grizzlies beat the San Francisco Bulls twice over the weekend, with Howse getting a pair of assists.
Abbotsford may be looking to see how Howse has progressed in the ECHL, as a handful of older prospects (Mitch Wahl, Gaelan Patterson and Bryan Cameron, all in their third years of their contracts) all have better offensive totals than he does. Perhaps a reunion with junior teammate Roman Horak may be just what the doctor ordered for Howse.
The Heat remain atop the AHL standings with a 13-3-4 record.
The Quebec Remparts split their weekend games. Ryan Culkin had a pair of assists, but was also minus-3. Patrick Sieloff and the Windsor Spitfires won one of their three weekend tilts, while Sieloff had zero points and was a cumulative minus-1.
Perhaps saving him for the playoffs (or the World Juniors), the Edmonton Oil Kings started Tristan Jarry in both of the weekend’s games and let Calgary prospect Laurent Brossoit have the weekend off.
The Portland Winterhawks had a good weekend, winning both of their games. Blueliner Tyler Wotherspoon had a goal and was plus-6, pushing his CHL-leading plus/minus to plus-34. The Red Deer Rebels and captain Turner Elson also continued to be successful, winning both of their weekend games and pushing their winning streak to seven under new/old head coach Brent Sutter. Elson had 2 goals and an assist on the Friday night’s game-winner.
Elsewhere, Swift Current’s Coda Gordon was held off the scoresheet and Vancouver’s Brett Kulak had an assist.
GAUDREAU’S SCORING STREAK ENDS
The biggest news on the weekend was that Boston College lost just their second game this year against Boston University, then came back and beat them handily on Saturday. The other big story was that Johnny Gaudreau failed to get on the scoresheet on Saturday night, snapping his points-scoring streak at 15 games (dating back to last year’s NCAA championship tournament). Gaudreau had a goal and an assist on Friday in a losing cause, while Bill Arnold scored twice on Saturday.
Like Boston College, Providence College split their weekend series with Merrimack. Mark Jankowski didn’t score in either game, while Jon Gillies made 47 saves between the pair. Gillies is expected to be named to USA Hockey’s World Junior selection camp roster on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, John Ramage got his first point of the year (an assist) for Wisconsin while Michigan State’s Matthew Deblouw was held pointless.
Avangard Omsk continued to roll along this weekend. They beat HC Barys 3-2 in overtime on Friday. Karri Ramo made 25 saves in the win.
Mikael Backlund had an assist as VIK Vasteras beat Karlskrona HK on Saturday by a 1-0 score. Chris Butler did not play, as the club is working out his visa and whatnots.
HIFK Helsinki lost to JYP 4-2 on Friday and beat the Blues 4-1 on Saturday. Joni Ortio continues to be excellent, making 38 saves in Friday’s loss and 28 saves in Saturday’s win. Markus Granlund had zero points.