Abbotsford Heat vs. Lake Erie Monsters - Saturday, October 27, 2012
Heat winger Dustin Sylvester is returning to Lake Erie, having played three games for the Monsters in 2009-10. After scoring 93 points in 68 games with the Kootenay Ice of the WHL, Sylvester made his AHL debut with Lake Erie, playing his first game on April 7th, 2010, in a 5-4 shootout win vs. Abbotsford. Sylvester played the 2010-11 season for EHC Freiburg (2nd Eishockey-Bundesliga), recording 60 points in 48 games. The Red Deer, Alberta product returned to North America for the 2011-12 season, earning Top Rookie accolades for the Heat with 34 points in 64 games, as well as four points in eight games during the Heat’s Calder Cup playoff run. The sophomore has recorded two goals and three assists in four games this season. Asked about his brief stint in Lake Erie, Sylvester said: “It was short, out of my last year of junior, so it was my first pro experience. It was a good experience going there and seeing what the AHL is about.”
On the Road
The Heat defeated the Monsters in their first two games of the 2011-12 campaign, kick-starting a season of strong play away from the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Despite battling a grueling travel schedule, the Heat finished the year with a 24-11-0-3 road record. When asked whether early road trips can help the team bonding process, Head Coach Troy G. Ward cited that although they can help, the maturity level in the dressing room has accelerated the process: “I like our veterans, I like our conversations in the locker room, and I like how the guys inter-mix with each other. We kind of have a maturity level which indicates that we’ve come together pretty quick.” The Heat squad of 2012-13 is the eldest in the four year history of the franchise. With the average age of team members 24.68, the Heat are second only to the Hershey Bears with an average age of 25.41.
3’s a Crowded-Crease
The Heat squad is not lacking in the goaltending department this season, carrying three experienced netminders: “It’s great when you have three guys you can go to,” said Goaltending Coach Jordan Sigalet. Danny Taylor started in the Heat’s first three games of the season, stopping 70 of 76 shots (0.921 SVS %), and backstopping the Heat to a 2-0-0-1 start. Taylor started in seven of eight games during the Heat’s 2011-12 playoff campaign, carrying a 2.26 GAA and 0.917 SVS %. Barry Brust, who played last season with the Straubing Tigers of the German Ice Hockey League, stopped 25 of 26 shots in his first win with the Heat as they took on the Chicago Wolves. Calgary’s first-round draft pick from 2006 (26th overall), Leland Irving, has yet to suit up for the Heat in 2012-13. He led the AHL in minutes played (3437) and shutouts (8) in 2010-11, and also earned team MVP honours. In 2011-12, Irving played 39 games with the Heat, and seven games for the Calgary Flames, earning his first NHL win in Vancouver on December 23rd, 2011 with a 3-1 victory. Irving played in both of the Heat’s first two games of 2011-12 in Cleveland, allowing only one goal against on 41 shots. Asked about whether three games in three days is an opportunity to rotate the netminders, Goaltending Coach Jordan Sigalet said: “Three in three is tough, so we’re going to try and get all the guys into the mix.” Last night, Taylor backstopped the Heat to a 5-3 win, stopping 30 of 33 shots.
Special Teams Report
The Heat continued their strong short-handed play last night, going six-for-six to remain atop the AHL’s penalty-kill ranking with an impressive 19 for 19 record. Carter Bancks added the Heat’s first PK goal of the 2012-13 campaign. So far this season, the Heat are 13 for 20 with the man advantage, third in the AHL. Last season the Heat ranked 19th of 30 on the power play and 10th on the penalty kill.
Horak’s Scoring Streak
Roman Horak continued his scoring streak in the first of three games in three days for the Heat, scoring two goals in the 5-3 decision. Horak has now scored a league-leading six goals in only five games. The Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic product made the Calgary Flames squad out of camp last season, suiting up for 61 games.