Once Flames property, Jon Rheault (left) leads the San Antonio Rampage in scoring as they prepare to take on his former team tonight. - Dale MacMillan
Although the Heat managed to come away with the 'W' last night after playing sixty scoreless minutes against the Texas Stars, bringing the same energy in the second of three consecutive games tonight in San Antonio is one of a few challenges that awaits Troy Ward's team.
While last night's victory was an encouraging bounce-back after that blowout loss to the Marlies, the team's lack of scoring, especially on the powerplay, made last night's game frustrating to listen to.
It would seem that the Heat ran into a hot goalie in Cristopher Nilstorp, who saved 28 of 29 shots directed at him in last night's contest, but Abbotsford had a good number of quality scoring chances they failed to convert on, and despite eighth opportunities, their powerplay continued its abysmal performance on the road, now 0-for-28 with the man advantage away for the AESC.
The Heat's penalty kill, however, continued its improbable success with the help of Danny Taylor, who made 19 saves and held the Stars scoreless on their five PP attempts.
Hulking defenceman Chris Breen got his second goal of the season after a couple of near misses by Sven Baertschi in the dying minutes of regulation and the beginning of overtime, potting Baertschi's rebound just eight seconds into the extra frame. Baertschi now leads the team in scoring with 15 points, two ahead of Ben Street, who also had some decent chances last night but was held off the scoresheet.
Tonight's competition, the San Antonio Rampage, are the Florida Panther's AHL affiliate, and currently rank last in the AHL's Western Conference with just four wins and 10 points in 15 games. Jon Rheault, who holds the Heat record for all-time points with 72, is now with the Rampage, and currently leads the team in scoring with five goals and 11 points. Coincidentally, Ben Walter is just one point away from breaking Rheault's record, and could potentially do so tonight.
Some other opposing players to watch for tonight include Quinton Howden and Jacob Markstrom. The 20-year-old Howden was the Panthers' 25th overall pick in 2010 was thought to have a shot at cracking the big club's roster this year and still could if we ever see NHL action before next October. Markstrom, 22, was picked 31st overall by the Panthers in 2008, and posted a .923 SV% in seven games with Florida last season.
The puck drops at 5PM PST/6 PM MT and can be heard live by following the links on the Heat's website, because Sportsnet has chosen to air the Chicago Wolves game tonight instead. Damn Canucks bias.