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Abbotsford Heat Report: April 14th-21st

The countdown until the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs is on, and the Heat face an uncertain future as the Flames announced they will be moving their AHL affiliate from Abbotsford next year.

Flames defenceman Mark Cundari will suit up for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL post-season.
Flames defenceman Mark Cundari will suit up for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL post-season.
Rich Lam

The Breakdown

The Heat went 1-0-1 in their mini-series against the Oklahoma City Barons, beating one of the biggest rivals of their NHL affiliate 3-2 Friday and falling 5-4 in a shootout on Sunday.

The end of the NHL regular season and the elimination of several teams from the CHL playoffs means the Heat have also received some reinforcements just in time for the post-season.

Ben Hanowski, Chris Breen Chad Billins have been re-assigned to the Heat while defenceman Mark Cundari was re-assigned to the Chicago Wolves, where he remains on loan. Defencemen Ryan Culkin, Keegan Kanzig and Eric Roy have all been assigned to the Heat after being eliminated from the CHL playoffs, as has forward Emile Poirier.

Culkin had two goals and 11 points in 11 playoff games with the Drummondville Voltiguers of the QMJHL, while Kanzig had one assist in seven playoff games with the WHL's Victoria Royals. Roy had one goal and three points in eight playoff games with the Brandon Wheat Kings while Poirier scored seven goals and 10 points in nine post-season contests.

The biggest news concerning the Heat in the past week is that the Flames have announced they are moving their AHL affiliate just halfway through a 10-year deal with the league to keep the team in Abbotsford. The team had been losing money and had a poor attendance record over the course of five seasons in Abbotsford, and the City paid $5.5M to terminate the deal with the AHL on top of the $5.1M it already had to pay to cover for the Heat's attendance woes.

The team will relocate following the Calder Cup playoffs, but a new location for the Flames' AHL affiliate has not yet been announced.

Who's Hot

Forward Ben Hanowski scored two assists in the Heat's 5-4 shootout loss the the Oklahoma City Barons on Sunday afternoon after rejoining the team, while defenceman Derek Smith has a goal and two assists in his past two games.

Who's Not

Sven Baertschi's 12-game point-streak has been snapped and the forward is now pointless in his past two games.

2013 first-round pick Morgan Klimchuk played his first two games with the Heat this past weekend, but has yet to score a point in the AHL. Klimchuk also missed a good chunk of time this past season dealing with myriad lower-body injuries, so the AHL playoffs could provide a real opportunity for him to get back into the swing of things and get his confidence back ahead of next season.

The Standings

The Heat maintain their hold on second place in the West division with 88 points and are currently in sixth place in the Western Conference, nine points clear of the eighth-place Barons, from whom they earned three of four points this past weekend.

The Heat have no real chance of moving up more than one spot in the Western Conference; they could surpass the Milwaukee Admirals, who are currently holding down fifth-place with 89 points and have played one more game than Abbotsford, but they have no hope of catching the Wolves, who have a firm grasp on fourth-place with 96 points.

The Heat are well clear of the Barons, who cannot catch them with just two games remaining in their season, and neither can the ninth-place Checkers, which I believe means the Heat have now officially clinched their playoff spot.

Upcoming Games

Abbotsford takes on the Rampage tonight in San Antonio and again tomorrow evening before wrapping up their season against the Conference-leading Texas Stars on Saturday. The Heat begin their post-season run on April 25th, but if the playoffs began today Abbotsford would be taking on the third-place Toronto Marlies in Toronto.