Tonight may be the final Abbotsford Heat game ever.
After dropping Game 1 2-1 in a double-overtime heartbreaker and then facing a 7-2 stomping from the same Grand Rapids Griffins the next night, the Heat are down 2-0 in their best-of-five series.
If they lose tonight, it’s all over.
Puck drop is at 5pm MT on TeamRadio.ca and AHL Live pay-per-view stream.
As previously detailed, the Heat were not terrible on Saturday night, but they were all-around not that good. Iffy goaltending. Poor defensive coverage. Shoddy back-checking.
With their season on the line – and, let’s face it, the existence of the franchise – the Abbotsford Heat need to be better. A lot better. We know they have it in them. They were excellent to start the year, and had pockets of excellence throughout the year, punctuated by periods where the Flames or injuries knocked key players out of the line-up.
One of the things that coaches and other players praised about Flames call-up Tyler Wotherspoon earlier this season was that he craved pressure situations. When the game was on the line, he wanted the puck – or to be on the opposite side, trying to shut down the other team’s players. When the game’s on the line, clutch players need to step up.
The season’s on the line for the Abbotsford Heat. Who’s stepping up tonight?
No word yet on line-up changes for the Heat, but expect Joni Ortio to start.
Last year’s defending AHL champions, the Griffins won a tight-checking Game 1 and then took advantage of all of Abbotsford’s mistakes – and there were many – in Game 2. Now, with a 2-0 series lead and three cracks to win the series at home, they’ve gotten reinforcements.
Defender Xavier Ouellett and forwards Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan have been returned from Detroit, as well as goalie Jake Paterson.
So let’s just say the Heat have their work cut out for them tonight.