The Heat finished last week with a record of 2-1-0 following wins over the Rockford Ice Hogs and the Grand Rapids Griffins. Their only loss last week also came at the hands of the Griffins when they were shutout 3-0 on Friday evening.
Abbotsford beat the Ice Hogs 4-3 in overtime last Wednesday on a powerplay goal by Markus Granlund. Granlund scored the game winning goal again in Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Griffins.
Joni Ortio and Joey MacDonald both backstopped their teams to victory last week, with each goalie making 30+ saves in the process. MacDonald also made 29 saves on 32 shots in a losing effort Friday versus the Griffins. The Heat were shutout by Griffins goalie Tom McCollum, who made 35 saves to keep Abbotsford off the scoresheet and preserve the win for his team.
The Heat haven't played since Saturday, and are off until Friday when they take on the Canucks' AHL affiliate in their own backyard.
Max Reinhart has scored once and added four assists in his past three games, and is now in sole possession of third place in the Heat's scoring race.
The aforementioned Granlund scored the deciding goal in both of the Heat's wins last week, while defenceman Chad Billins also has a goal and three assists in his past three games. With Ben Street still stuck on the goon line with the Flames, Billins is quickly catching up to him in team scoring. His eight goals and 31 points are just two back of Street for the team lead. Centre Corban Knight also has two assists in his past three games.
The Heat's special teams also seem to be clicking lately. Abbotsford scored twice on the powerplay in last Wednesday's victory over Rockford and once shorthanded in Saturday's win in Grand Rapids.
Unfortunately for two of the players who fell under this category in last week's Heat Report, their luck hasn't changed much in the past seven days. Ben Hanowski has yet to score a point in 2014 and Sven Baertschi has just one point in has past five games.
Knight, Granlund and Reinhart have all now surpassed Hanowski, who was tied with Reinhart in scoring this time last week.
Despite a good week the Heat are still one point back of the Texas Stars for the lead in the North Division. The Stars were also 2-1-0 last week, with wins over the Rochester Americans and Charlotte Checkers in which they outscored their opponents 11-2. However, they lost 6-1 to the very same Checkers on Saturday night. The Stars play the 10th place Iowa Wild tomorrow evening before back-to-back games against the first place Griffins this weekend.
The Heat and the Oklahoma City Barons have played the most games in their division this season at 42. The Stars, Checkers and Rampage all have at least one game in hand on Abbotsford, but Texas is the only team for whom that would be an advantage.
With the Stars holding onto their division lead by a slim margin, that means the Heat still find themselves in fourth place in the Western Conference, something they will be looking to remedy when they return home to Abbotsford this weekend.
The Heat play back-to-back games versus the Utica Comets on Friday and Saturday. The Comets are in last place in the Western Conference with just 13 wins and 31 points in 38 games so far this season, but given that they are the Canucks' AHL affiliate, the AESC is expected to be a full house this weekend.
30-year-old Pascal Pelletier leads the Comets with seven goals and 34 points in 34 games, while Canucks 2011 third-round pick Alexandre Grenier sits in third place in team scoring with 13 goals and 25 points. Joacim Eriksson and Joe Cannata split the goaltending duties for Utica.