The Sabres snagged Zemgus Girgensons from under the Flames' noses after Calgary sent their 14th overall pick Buffalo's way in June. - Bruce Bennett
After finally snapping a three-game losing streak during which they were shutout twice on Sunday afternoon, the Heat look to tighten their hold on first overall tonight when they visit the Rochester Americans.
After a strangely unsuccessful homestand in which the Heat lost three of four games at the AESC, Abbotsford seems to have landed back on their feet after a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Marlies on Sunday.
With the likes of Lance Bouma, David Eddy, Michael Ferland, Akim Aliu, and Sven Baertschi (neck) all out with injuries, Roman Horak and Max Reinhart are amongst some of the players who have been carrying the club offensively as of late. After not scoring all season, Reinhart now has two goals in his past three games, but is still scoring on less than one percent of his shots. Perhaps the recent spate of injuries up front have encouraged Troy Ward to use Reinhart in more offensive situations and with better linemates, or perhaps the percentages are finally beginning to equal out for the Flames' former third rounder, but either way it is nice to see him putting up some (if still relatively few) points.
Horak, on the other hand, continues to lead the Heat in goals with 13 so far this season, six of which have come on the powerplay, but that is not overly surprising for anyone who traced his junior career stats following his trade to the Flames last spring. Horak has scored on nearly 23% of his shots so far this season. By contrast, Ben Street, who leads Abbotsford in overall scoring with 18 points, but has just six goals on 90 shots (a category in which he is apparently tied for the league lead).
The Heat have played very well against their division this season, winning eight of 12 games against fellow Northerners, and that includes a 3-2 win over the Americans on November 16th. The Americans are in fourth place in the North division with 22 points in 21 games played and are 4-5-1 in their past ten games.
Former Senator Nick Foligno's baby brother Marcus currently leads the Americans in scoring with six goals and 20 points in 21 games, but T.J. Brennan and Brian Flynn are tied for the team lead in goals with nine each. Injury-prone former Canuck Cody Hodgson has played in only nine games this season after breaking his hand in late October, although he accumulated ten points despite scoring just once in those games, while rookie Zemgus Girgensons has scored one goal and four points in 16 games thus far.
Goalie David Leggio has shouldered most of the load for the Americans so far, appearing in 17 games for the Sabre's AHL affiliate. He has won nine and lost eight of those games and has a .909 SV% while facing an average of 29 shots per game. The Heat have done a good job of limiting shots against and until their pair of losses to the San Antonio Rampage last week, had not lost a game when out-shooting their opponents.
There is no word as of yet who will start in goal for Abbotsford, but seeing as Barry Brust brought the team back to its winning ways the coaching staff may likely choose to go with the hot hand in net.
Pre-game is at 4:05 PM PST/7:05 ET. Go Heat!