An eight-game homestand that presented a good opportunity for the Heat to re-claim the lead in the West division has been an utter disaster for the team so far. Combined with two road losses before Abbotsford returned home at the end of February, the Heat have now lost eight straight games, and the blowouts are getting bigger and bigger.
On Saturday Abbotsford lost 7-2 to the Wolves, before losing 4-1 to the same team the next day.
To be fair, the Heat haven't exactly been operating at full strength recently, with Max Reinhart, Ben Hanowski, Paul Byron, Markus Granlund, Corban Knight, Tyler Wotherspoon, Joni Ortio and Joey MacDonald all currently up with the Flames, so they have had to make some roster moves of their own to fill the holes. The good news for Abbotsford is that Curtis Glencross is no longer on IR, which means that the Flames will likely have to demote an extra body when he returns to the lineup.
On Saturday the team announced that it has signed goalie Aaron Dell, who has played in 23 games with the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies this season with a record of 15-6-0 and a .920 SV%. Dell appeared in relief of Olivier Roy in Saturday's 7-2 loss to the Wolves on Saturday, allowing two goals on eight shots. Today, the team also announced they had released forward Jordan Knackstedt, who appeared in one game with the Heat after playing 54 games with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL this season.
Well, nobody really. The Heat have lost their past two games by a combined score of 11-3, and the players that were flying high last week despite the losses have also cooled off significantly. Sven Baertschi hasn't played in either of Abbotsford's past two games so I'm not sure if he's hurt, a healthy scratch or what.
Olivier Roy continues to struggle mightily this week. In Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Wolves, Roy allowed two goals on just four shots in 14 minutes. Roy fared somewhat better in Saturday's 7-2 loss to Chicago, allowing five goals on 33 shots, but was still pulled in favour of Dell.
The Heat are now seven points back of the Texas Stars for first place in the West division, and have fallen to fifth in the Western conference, three points back of the Wolves, after back-to-back losses to Chicago last week. The Stars have one game in hand and the Wolves have two.
The Heat have the chance to put their losing streak to bed and salvage their homestand this weekend against the Utica Comets. The Heat lost back-to-back games to Utica in overtime back in January. The Comets are in 11th place in the Western conference, but have won four straight games of late.
Pascal Pelletier continues to lead the Comets with 12 goals and 47 points in 52 games this season, while Benn Ferriero is the team leader in goals with 19.
Goalie Joacim Eriksson has a record of 19-17-2 through 40 games, an SV% of .913 and four shutouts.
The Heat will hope to find their groove again when they hit the road next week for two games against the Hamilton Bulldogs. They will then take on the Marlies and Comets before returning to the AESC on April 4th for back-to-back games versus the Rockford Ice Hogs.