Time: 8:00pm MST
Location: Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre
Boradcast: abbotsfordheat.com, teamradio.ca
The Heat were without the services of both Sven Baertschi and Ben Walter last game, leading to their first regulation defeat on home ice. Although they were able to beat up on the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-1 the night previous, lacking two of their top six forwards proved too rgeat a challenge to close out the sweep the next night. The club will likely face that challenge again tonight as their injury list continues to get longer.
The visitors tonight are the familiar San Antonio Rampage. Abbotsford beat the Rampage in San Antonio during their last road trip and the Panthers AHL afilliate now languishes at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Greg Nemisz and Paul Byron are finally both healthy and back in the fold, but as mentioned the Heat nevertheless have a lot of names on the IR list, including Baertschi, Walter, Ferland, Aliu and Bouma. Carter Bancks may get back into the line-up after suffering form an illness and the recently recalled Ryan Howse may get a chance to suit up in the AHL for the first time this year as well.
With so many folks hurt, I can only guess at the potential line-up:
- Olson – Street – Kolanos
- Laing – Byron – Nemisz
- Horak – Reinhart – Sylvester
- Bancks – Estoclet – Ruesegger
- Brodie – Piskula
- Breen – McCarthy
- McKelvie – Callahan
My guess is Brust in the net, but it could very well be Irving as well. Taylor played the last game and lost which is usually what signals a switch in the crease these days.
Jon Rheault continues to lead the team in scoring with 17 points in 19 games and Drew Shore is having a decent rookie season (15 points) but that’s about where the good news ends for San Antonio.
- Rallo – Wellman – Howden
- Wright – Shore – Rheault
- Selleck – Timmins – Vaive
- Deveaux – Gomes – McFarland
- Robak – Yonkman
- Petrovic – Strachan
- DeSantis – Caruso
Jacob Markstrom’s numbers have improved since last we looked in on him. He has won two of his last four games with save percentages of .923, .938, .935 and .940 respectively. His last win was a 39 save effort on November 30th, which is much more in line with expectations of the player heading into the season.
Sum it Up
The Heat are still the top team in the AHL, but things are going to be a bit more difficult with guys like Sven and Ben Walter on the sidelines. If they can continue to kill 95% of their penalties and if the goaltending stands up, they will be in every contest no doubt. Still, now would be a good time for someone besides Ben Street to find the range in the offensive zone.
UPDATE – a kind soul sent me a the correct Heat lines for tonight. I have adjusted accordingly.