The Heat Get Reinforcements

Weeks ago, it was easy to feel bad for Abbotsford Heat coach Troy (G.) Ward.

All of his best players were in Calgary. Or injured. Or slumping. Now? The team has a playoff spot locked down. They’ve gotten most of their bodies back from the IR and/or Calgary. And they’ve gotten some reinforcements from college and major-junior.

With Abbotsford closing out their AHL regular season this weekend, why not get familiar with the Heat roster as they get primed for the post-season?


Joni Ortio: Ortio’s the undisputed starter. He had strong numbers all year in the AHL and looked pretty darn good for a 22-year-old in the NHL, too.

Doug Carr: Just finished his senior season with U-Mass Lowell, Carr’s 25 and has played but one pro game. Evidently he did enough good things to get the back-up gig, as Olivier Roy was sent to ECHL Alaska for their playoffs.


Chris Breen: Breen is Breen. He’s got size and is a good positional D-man at the AHL level. Not much offense, but he uses his size.

Chad Billins: Billins is the opposite of Breen. He’s smaller, but has significantly more offensive upside.

Derek Smith: Calgary’s de facto #7 blueliner all year was a huge offensive contributor for the Heat, particularly on the power-play.

Shane O’Brien: O’Brien plays a physical role on the Heat, but also provides mentorship for the team’s many, many young defenders.

Dean Arsene: The team captain, Arsene is a blood-and-guts, heart-and-soul type of defender. He’s not great at anything, but works his tail off. May be scratched from time-to-time.

Brett Kulak: Flames 2012 pick. Just signed a deal and came in when Vancouver’s season ended. Has looked good, scoring a goal. Good chance he’ll get some playoff time.

Kane LaFranchise: Reliable depth defender. Ward seems to like him, giving him a good amount of ice-time even as NHLers have returned.

Zach Davies: Call-up from Alaska. Has some offensive upside, but probably won’t play much.

Brady Lamb: Decent third-pairing option, but hasn’t played since Kulak arrived.

Black Aces: Keegan Kanzig, Eric Roy, Ryan Culkin, Zach Tolkinen; I’d wager there’s a chance that Culkin gets a sniff, but with so many bodies, it’ll be tough.

Injured: Patrick Sieloff


Ben Street: An All-Star, Street’s been a strong offensive contributor for the Heat most of the year.

Corban Knight: Right now has better defensive/possession numbers than Reinhart, but worse offensive numbers.

Blair Jones: Great on PP, decent five-on-five. Missed some time due to injury, but is gradually rounding into his old form.

Max Reinhart: The team’s two-way ace has dramatically improved both his plus/minus and his points production.

Markus Granlund: He’s back and he’s healthy. And he’s one of the team’s top offensive threats.

Ben Hanowski: At AHL level, physical and a good forechecker. Unsure of his offensive upside.

Sven Baertschi: Gifted offensively, figuring things out otherwise.

Brett Olson: Quietly having a strong year. Works hard in all three zones, but may not be the most talented player out there.

Josh Jooris: Fine two-way player. Solid if unspectacular.

Carter Bancks: Heart-and-soul, energy player. Not huge offensive upside.

Emile Poirier: Fresh from the Quebec playoffs, Poirier’s getting used to the pros (as he’ll probably heading to the AHL next year). He’ll definitely play before the year’s up, but playoffs are a question mark.

Morgan Klimchuk: Looked decent in first weekend of AHL games. Probably rotates in and out depending on the situation.

Corey Locke: Brought in from Chicago Wolves. Has developed good chemistry with Olson and Baertschi. Point-per-game production, so I highly doubt he’s ever scratched.

Trevor Gillies: Big hitter and fighter. May be recovering from injuries. May be a healthy scratch if his particular set of skills are deemed not necessary.

Tim Miller: With fourth AHL club of year. If Poirier or Klimchuk rotate in, he’ll be a candidate to rotate out. With bodies returning, he probably slides down the depth chart either way.

Jordan Kremyr: Call-up. An extra body.

Garnet Hathaway: Call-up. An extra body.

David Eddy: They gave his jersey number to Poirier, so I doubt he plays much.

Black Aces: Collin Valcourt, Coda Gordon; I doubt either of them play.

Injured: Michael Ferland


Lines pulled out of thin air.

Reinhart – Granlund – Jones
Street – Knight – Poirier/Klimchuk
Baertschi – Olson – Locke
Hanowski – Jooris – Bancks

Breen – Billins
O’Brien – Smith
LaFranchise – Arsene/Kulak



The Heat play the San Antonio Rampage tonight at 6pm MT, Friday night at 6:30pm MT and then visit the Texas Stars (in the greater Austin area) on Saturday at 6pm MT.

They’re going to finish 5th or 6th, depending on how the Milwaukee Admirals do. If they finish 5th, they play the Chicago Wolves. If they finish 6th, they play the Toronto Marlies. AHL playoffs begin next weekend.

  • SmellOfVictory

    With those out-of-a-hat lines, is Sven on the third line simply because those are the guys he’s been playing with since sent down, or would you actually want to stick him on the third line?

    Just curious, as I would personally put him on the 2nd line, most likely, but I’m aware that he’s spent a lot of time with Olson and Locke.

    • beloch

      When healthy Ward tried really hard to roll 4 lines, I expect he will try to do so in the playoffs. Hopefully he sees what he has over the next few games. See how the CHL reinforcements fit, without causing to great of distraction going into the playoffs. Hopefully they will have a long run. I hope Granlund is good to go, that is a huge plus for this team.

  • beloch

    Baertschi put up 1ppg in March and is on almost a 2ppg pace in April thanks to starting the month off with 7 points in 2 games, although he was held off the scoresheet in his last two games. None of the other established AHL’ers in Ryan’s top six are anywhere near being that hot.

    If I were Troy Ward I’d feed Sven as much icetime as possible. If he stays hot going into the playoffs that could be a very good thing.

  • beloch

    Another interesting thing is that Abby has an insane number of natural centers. If Ward wants to get creative, he definitely has the pieces to put together some funky lines.

  • Lordmork

    The Heat have 3 games in three nights starting tonight. I would love to see Ward ice this a line’ Poirier,Granlund,Klimchuk for at least one game. Keep your other 3 lines together that have been clicking. In one of the games allow Kanzig to play and Culkin to play another.

  • Lordmork

    I’m really excited by this team, but I have no sense of how the opposition looks. I assume many other teams are getting NHL/junior reinforcements. Given that there are 12-ish potential NHL players (give or take) on this team, I’m really hoping for a deep playoff run. Go Heat!

  • Lordmork

    The lines tonight are:


    Ortio in net.

    Ward hopes to get Poirier in at least one game, probaly tomorrow,

    • SmellOfVictory

      If you’re talking free, it’s unlikely. The AHL does have their pay-to-stream service, however (which honestly is pretty shit quality given what you pay).

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Heat win 3-1; Jones, Locke, Hankowski score. Ortio with the win. The Heat will play either the Leafs farm team or St Louis farm team. It is best of 5 and the first two games are in Abbottsford beginning Friday. As most of their games have been on the computer via radio and many have been broadcast on the computer I expect they in the playoffs. I don’t know if any of the major broadcasters will televise games but there have been some AHL games on tv. I suspect Ward will play Poirier tomorrow.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I never really got why Dean Arsene was the Captain. I mean, I get intangibles and “good in the room” and all that, but shouldn’t the Captain be someone who’s at least good enough to regularly be in the lineup (and also, wouldn’t it be better if it was someone who didn’t just join the team this off season)?

    If it had been me, I’d have given the C to Ben Street (or maybe Olson since he doesn’t have a contract with the Flames and thus was not in danger of being called up). But I suppose there’s a reason Ward gave it to Arsene. Just seems odd, that’s all.

    Anyway, go Heat!

  • SmellOfVictory

    As it stands right now the Heat will play the Chicago Wolves (St Louis Farm team)another reason to cheer for the Blues over the Hawks, this could change with two games left. Milwakee is one point behind the Heat both with two games left. If the Heat win out they play Chicago. The other possibility is the Toronto Marlees. If it is against Chicago hopefully Cundari is not the difference makes(Flames property playing against the Flames farm team) and a chance to to Rattie against Sven(although we might get a good comparison of Rattie vs Granlund/Knight)

  • SmellOfVictory

    Heat up 1-0. Ortio has the night off.
    Heres the line up although I am not sure of the excact lines because it has been a penalty filled game.
    RHino(an assist), Street, Porier

    Gilles,Hathaway, Bancks

    Klimchuk, Jooris, Miller

    Hanko, Knight, Olsen

    Kulak(an assist),Davies (goal)

    LaFranchise, Breen

    Billins, Lamb

    • SmellOfVictory

      Indeed, giving Ward more options and weapons. Heat up 2-0, Rhino with 2 assists. He has had a very good bounce back year after struggling as an AHL rookie.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Heat up 3=0 with 8 minutes left. Rhino with the goal 3 pt night. With Milwakee winning it looks like the decision who they play will come own to the last game of the season.

  • SmellOfVictory

    First time post …. my thanks to all for all the interesting articles this past season. Whether anyone tells you or not, imho the site makes the Flames season much, much better than merely following along via the MSM.

    I enjoyed catching up on the Heat this AM …. it would be of interest to me and perhaps others if the Heat were the focus of several articles during their playoff run. After all they are the future in many ways!

    How about Poirier’s debut 2 games! Eye-catching don’t you think? Next training camp for the Flames is going to be muy interesante!!

    All the best and again … thanks for all your efforts!