Heat Lose In Double OT! Game 2 Saturday Night!

The Flames missed the playoffs. It sucks. But the Abbotsford Heat made the playoffs. That’s pretty cool. The downside is that a lot fewer people will see the games as would’ve seen Calgary in the playoffs. Heck, perhaps because of the scrambly nature of the AHL game, fans would’ve been more entertained by the Heat playoff games than they would by the hypothetical Flames games.

We’ll never know.

But Game 1 of the Abbotsford/Grand Rapids series was one of the best back-and-forth games of ice hockey I’ve seen in quite some time. With 33 seconds left in the second overtime period, Ryan Sproul’s point shot eluded Joni Ortio and sent the Griffins back to the hotel with a 2-1 win and a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 goes Saturday night at 8pm MT on TeamRadio.ca and AHL Live.

GAME 1 RUNDOWN

The first period was back and forth. There were 29 shots total (16 for the Griffins, 13 for the Heat). Abbotsford’s line of Brett Olson, Sven Baertschi and Corban Knight generated many scoring chances, including an exchange of three rapid-fire shots that ended up with Brett Olson scoring. It really should’ve been a wider margin, but Griffins goalie Petr Mrazek was excellent.

You’ll be hearing that a lot as this series goes on.

The next two periods were mostly Abbotsford. The Griffins did a decent job keeping the Heat to the outside, basically using a partial neutral zone trap to break up Heat rushes and, failing that, falling into a penalty-kill box in their own zone. The Griffins got more sustained zone time but didn’t really create high-end chances, while Abbotsford – particularly the Granlund-Reinhart-Poirier and Olson-Baertschi-Knight lines – created quite a few for the Heat.

Midway through the third, when thoughts of “Hey, maybe Ortio can pull this off…” started creeping into the back of everyone’s minds, Mattias Backman took a pass from Andreas Athanasiou, side-stepped Poirier, and beat Ortio to tie the game.

Overtime? More back and forth. Double-overtime? Even more back and forth. But the Heat (a) just couldn’t use their six power-plays (including two extended five-on-threes) in regulation, and (b) they just couldn’t get anything past Mrazek in overtime. And with 33 seconds left, and thoughts of triple-overtime emerging, Sproul’s goal spoiled a perfect great 99:27 of hockey.

KEYS FOR GAME 2

  • The Heat really need to get bodies in front of Petr Mrazek. Too many of the 56 shots he faced were ones he saw coming from a mile away. There wasn’t nearly enough traffic.
  • The power-play needs to be better. A lot of that will come if they get some traffic, but (like the Flames) the Heat aren’t amazing with zone entries on the power-play.
  • The defense was good, even when Derek Smith went down and the team fell back to four guys (primarily using Shane O’Brien, Chris Breen, Chad Billins and Kane LaFranchise). That needs to continue. If Smith can go, great. If not, they need to maintain the balance they found. Heck, O’Brien had a shockingly good game on Friday.
  • Offensively, the team needs more balance. The Baertschi line and the Reinhart line got ridden hard in the first, as the veteran line of Corey Locke, Blair Jones and Ben Street couldn’t get much going and the fourth line of Ben Hanowski, Carter Bancks and Trevor Gillies barely saw the ice. That meant that as the game wore on, those guys visibly tired out. The veterans need to come out of the gates strong so that the two kid lines don’t get burnt out too early in the night. With how evenly-matched these two clubs are, the Heat will need every advantage they can get, and their depth may be their most potent weapon. They need to be able to utilize it.
  • RedMan

    what the heck happened in game two? double minor for spearing, half a dozen misconducts…. a touchdown… the boxscore looks like it was a slaughter… and the vets are on the score sheet in all the wrong ways.. (jones/O’Brian)

    anyone see the game that cares to give a bit of a summary?

      • yomamen11

        No I mean Greg Nemisz. Big frame guy who can shoot, but not good enough to score too much and can not skate at all. If this is the return for great Iggy, its not enough.

        But Iam not saying that tonight result is all about him. He was just a part of it.

  • prendrefeu

    Ugh. Grand Rapids is shooting the lights out, near-tripling the shot ratio from the Heat. Wait, that didn’t make sense.

    Anyway, 5-2 at the moment. 2nd period.

    I think Grand Rapids is doping. (slightly joking, slightly not) They look really fresh compared to the Heat after last night’s marathon. What gives?

  • Craig

    Really fun game to watch, both goalies looked so good.

    I thought Sven looked excellent, he’s so creative, and he created a lot, him and knight have some good chemistry.

    Granlund and Reinhart also looked very good, both offensively and defensively. Poirier had some good looks, and in the offensive zone looked pretty good, but in the defensive zone I thought he looked a little overwhelmed. I also noticed when he got some power play time that he just stood in the slot hoping for a pass. I think he could use a full year under Troy Ward and he will be deadly.

    • MattyFranchise

      Speaking to the goalies and something that I didn’t really think about until the broadcast last night is that the angles that they train for in the AHL are so different from the angles in the NHL.

      I don’t watch very much AHL so I don’t spend too much time thinking about it but so many of those shots were broken plays and just whiffing at the net. So much different from the well thought through and calculated shots in the NHL.

      AHL games, if they’re mostly like the ones last night, look incredibly messy but still exciting as hell. Fancy plays, river hockey, odd angled shots. It was a lot of fun. I’m glad that my first full AHL game viewing experience was a playoff game.

      It was awesome.

  • RedMan

    I think of all the overnight trips I have made to Red Deer, Lethbridge or Medicine Hat for minor hockey games, it would be nice to on occasion luck out and actually be able to take your team or family and watch our future Flames. Im sure many other southern Alberta hockey families on Flames Nation would agree!
    Come on Flames! send the Heat to Alberta

  • SmellOfVictory

    It would be nice to have the farm team close by, like in a Lethbridge , Red Deer or Med Hat. Would like to go see them from time to time with an airplane ride requuired to do so.
    Lots of interest in whats brewing on the farm!

  • RedMan

    Poirier was sure schooled on that goal. oh well, it’s all part of the learning curve. gotta like what you see down there.

    Combination of a hot goalie and a weak power play cost the Heat the game.

    • MattyFranchise

      After the disappointment of staying up til midnight to watch the end of the game I pinned the loss on Mrazek but upon reflection I have to agree the Heat PP didn’t help all that much either. Either way, I’m looking forward to game 2.

      Off Topic: McPhee is done in Washington. Does he fit in with the Flames?

  • RedMan

    Where are all the fans?! i live in lethrbidge and when the huricanes (WHL) make the playoffs (which will probably never happen again) the enmax center is always sold out. This is AHL hockey which is wayy better and there is no one there!! if i lived in abbotsford i would go to every game.

  • SuntanOil

    If the HEAT have any more “home games”, can we please play them in the Saddledome???!!!

    I would hate to subject the great people of Abbotsford to any more of our kids games…..all 25 of them that attended….

    WW

    • SuntanOil

      It’s funny I was thinking much of the same thing, unfortunately it will never happen. If the Heat pp could connect this would really change things around.