Yesterday evening, Robert was kind enough to alert us to the fact that Flames prospect Mitch Wahl has signed an Amateur Try-out (ATO) with the Abbotsford Heat in this post and played in his first game with the Baby Flames, registering an assist and five shots on goal in their 2-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins after the Spokane Chiefs were eliminated from the playoffs Wednesday night. The Heat clinched a playoff birth with a win over the very same team on Friday, which means it's time for a...HEAT UPDATE!
After five straight losses, the Heat have now won three straight games and sit third in the Northern Division and seventh in the Western Conference with a record of 37-29-11 and 85 points. Abbotsford has three games left in their season before the Calder Cup playoffs begin, and, as Robert points out, they need all the help they can get, as they've already lost top scorer Jason Jaffray to injury as well as Kris Chucko, John Armstrong (what else is new, unfortunately) and most recently, left winger John Lammers, whom they recently signed to a PTO (Professional Tryout Offer), as he succumbed to a shoulder injury in last night's win.
Since Matt Keetley's demotion to the ECHL's Victoria Salmon Kings, David Shantz and Leland Irving have split the netminding duties for Abbotsford, with neither really looking like the clear-cut starter by virtue of their stats:
Shantz has been the best of the two as of late, by my understanding, making twenty-seven stops in Abby's most recent victory. The team's website may be improved, but it's still severely lacking in some areas, one of which is the lack of readily available data. The site still has Keith Aulie, Jamie Lundmark, and Riley Armstrong listed as on the Heat roster, although Lundmark has an 'X' beside his name for inactive.
Should the Flames fail to advance to the post season, the Heat would get some scoring help back in the form of Mikael Backlund, and Brett Sutter would also be presented with a ticket back to interior British Columbia. If the AHL playoffs were to begin tomorrow, Abbotsford would face the number two seeded Chicago Wolves (101 pts.) Rochester Americans in the first round. It's hard to imagine the Heat advancing past the quarter finals; they've allowed seventeen more goals than they've scored and are the most penalized team in the AHL, but if they get some healthy bodies back in the lineup and some reliable goaltending, a hot streak like the one the they're currently riding could go a long ways. Playoff hockey should help boost Abbotsford's struggling attendance figures, even if it is short lived. Either way, this season has been a big step forwards for the Flames' AHL affiliate.
A small announcement:
I'm going to be on the road quite a bit in the coming weeks; tomorrow I'll be leaving for a week long vacation in Mexico, which unfortunately means I'll likely miss the remainder of the Flames' regular season games and will remain ever hopeful for playoff hockey. My family seems to schedule holidays at the most inopportune times, not that I'm complaining. After that, I'll be in Boston for a few days. Of course I'll still be posting regularly and checking up on the daily happenings here whenever I get the opportunity!
Did everyone see this slick goal by Matt Lombardi to win the game for the Coyotes last night in the eighth round of the shootout against Edmonton?
I miss him.
Happy Easter everyone,
Hopefully this holiday edition of Flames v. Blackhawks turns out better than the last one.