Tag Archives: AHL

Abbotsford, we barely knew ya

Just as a handful of west coast NHL teams are making noise about establishing a Pacific Division with their respective AHL affiliates, the city of Abbotsford has elected to terminate their relationship with the Calgary Flames. April 13 saw the final regular season game at the AESC on King Road, a 5–4 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Barons.

With the exception of four games during the NHL lockout, the Battle of Alberta had never managed to inspire box office success in the Fraser Valley. Last weekend saw a minor uptick, with the official attendance landing just north of 5,000. Sadly, the team’s average this year was nearly two grand fewer than that, which puts the City of Abbotsford on the hook for millions of dollars of guaranteed revenue support to the team. So yeah, instead of paying an uncertain sum at the end of each season for the next five years, Abbotsford will fork over $5.5 million here and now to have the team just… go away.

Defenseman Brett Kulak scored his first professional goal in a 5-4 OT loss to the OKC Barons. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Defenseman Brett Kulak scored his first professional goal in the Abbotsford Heat’s final regular season game at the AESC, but it wasn’t enough. They went down swinging in a 5-4 OT loss to the OKC Barons. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Does it matter that the Heat are on their way to the post-season? Is it important that blame can be thrown at everything from poor marketing to even worse public relations, from to smalltown politics to a bizarre, small-minded Canucks-or-nothing mindset in the Vancovuer area? No, nope, and nuh-uh. Sayonara, American Hockey League. Abbotsford City Council has homeless people to shame over here — they don’t have time for you any longer.

On the ice, the Heat have won eight of their last eleven, and hqve now tied their best-ever point total (92). With a tie or a win on Saturday, they’ll be saying adios after a franchise record under their belts. This despite sending record numbers of prospects up to the big club during a rash of injuries in the Calgary Flames locker room for extended periods this season.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Heat host Barons, prepare for playoffs

The Abbotsford Heat hold their final homestand of the regular season this weekend, with games against the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

Joni Ortio, recently named to the 2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team, backstops the Abbotsford Heat as the rev up for post-season play. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Joni Ortio, recently named to the 2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team, backstops the Abbotsford Heat as the rev up for post-season play. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Heat are riding high at the moment, having clinched a playoff berth after sitting out last year’s post-season. They are also celebrating goaltender Joni Ortio’s nomination to the AHL All-Rookie Team for 2013-14; Ortio has been a revelation in the Heat crease, netting 24 wins and two shutouts in just 34 games played. As well, left winger Sven Baertschi has knotted seven points in two games against the Rockford Ice Hogs last week, earning AHL Player of the Week honours.

The Barons have just four wins in their past ten games, and have lost four of the last five meetings with Abbotsford. This weekend marks a return for former Heat forward Roman Horak, who is the Barons leading scorer this season.

With five games left, the Heat sit in fifth place in the Western Conference, and are almost guaranteed to open the post-season against the St Louis Blues affiliate Chicago Wolves.

For those interested in ye olde arena foode, Friday night’s game features 3-2-1 pricing on beer, hot dogs and soda; if prizes are your thing, Sunday’s home finale offers fan appreciation giveaways, including jerseys and a freaking car.

Get tickets here.

Heat explode for six goals on Big M night

The Abbotsford Heat beat the Hamilton Bulldogs by a couple of field goals on Friday night, taking the first of back-to-back weekend games 6–0 in front of an appreciative crowd at the AESC. Blair Jones scored twice in his first game back from injury, while Corban Knight got off the schneid with a two-goal, three-point performance of his own after collecting just two assists in his previous nine games. The Heat went 2-for-5 with the man advantage, and obviously had a perfect night on the penalty kill.

Chad Billins looks on as Joni Ortio makes one of his 34 saves during a 6-0 Abbotsford Heat win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Chad Billins looks on as Joni Ortio makes one of his 34 saves during a 6-0 Abbotsford Heat win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

More, including highlights, after the jump.

Continue reading Heat explode for six goals on Big M night

Heat – Comets photo gallery

The Utica Comets took consecutive overtime wins off the Abbotsford Heat this past weekend. Sadly I don’t have time to write anything pithy about the Heat’s current scoring woes (16 goals during three wins and seven losses in 2014), or Utica’s recent dominance in head-to-head matchups (six losses in a row and counting).

Dean Arsene rocks a wicked beard
Dean Arsene rocks a wicked beard. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

If there were time, it would be easy to point to Heat goaltender Joey MacDonald’s comical giveaway behind his own net on the tying goal late in the game, or to defenseman Chris Breen’s stick snapping in half at the opposition blueline, directly leading to Benn Ferriero’s game-winning goal.

But there isn’t. So after the jump, I’ll just share my Heat – Comets photo gallery.

Continue reading Heat – Comets photo gallery

Heat host Rampage, toss teddy bears

228b7820fad6e3affc4b9a3d830c7a7b.300x300At 17-6-1, the Abbotsford Heat sit atop the American Hockey League standings. Two of those losses came in back-to-back home defeats to the league-worst Utica Comets last weekend, so it’s fair to say the home team will turn up the heat on West Division rivals the San Antonio Rampage on December 6 & 7.

Friday is the annual Teddy Bear Toss, so here’s hoping a spirited bunch show up to rain stuffed animal goodness upon the ice. (Bring a new, unwrapped bear to the rink, and toss it over the boards when the Heat score their first goal of the night. All toys are gifted to the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau, an organization that helped more than 3,500 children during the holidays last year.)

Perhaps that goal will be scored by Ben Street, this week named the AHL Player of the Month for November 2013. Street scored 11 goals and added 8 assists in 15 games, a big reason the Heat rattled off a franchise record 12 wins in the month.

As for the opposition this weekend, local hockey fans will likely recognize Ryan Whitney, a 10-year veteran of NHL action with the Penguins, Oilers, and Ducks. Also of note: Steve Pinizzotto, who had a cup of coffee with the Vancouver Canucks after the lockout.

Ben Street
Abbotsford Heat forward Ben Street and his trusty sidekick Stache were named AHL Player of the Month for Movember. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Comets get icy reception, win anyway

Michael Ferland of the Abbotsford Heat knocks Utica Comets defenseman Kent Huskins off his feet with a single punch in AHL action. Clint Trahan photo courtesy of the Abbotsford Heat.
Michael Ferland of the Abbotsford Heat knocks Utica Comets defenseman Kent Huskins off his feet with a single punch in AHL action. Clint Trahan photo courtesy of the Abbotsford Heat.

The Abbotsford Heat find themselves worrying about the Vancouver Canucks affiliate Utica Comets.

They don’t need to concern themselves with a 3–2 decision to the lowly Comets on Friday night. Even after the loss, the Heat have won eight of their last ten games and sit in first overall in the AHL standings. The Comets, for their part, picked up just their fifth win of the year, and would not have done so without some serious heroics on the part of their goaltender. Under siege most of the night — including a third period that saw the Heat outshoot the Comets 13–2 — Joe Cannata made 35 saves for unanimous first star honours.

No, the Heat this season haven’t had to wring hands as they’ve done in the past about the number of pucks hitting the backs of the net. What they have worried about, though, is the ever-dwindling number of bums in seats at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.

More after the jump.

Continue reading Comets get icy reception, win anyway

Monster Show in Abbotsford

It was a result fitting of the theme last night at the AESC. On a night where ghosts and ghouls took in the action off the ice, the Monsters took it to the Heat on the ice.

In stark contrast from the night before when the Heat banked a convincing 4-2 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters, the team dropped a 3-1 decision to the visitors.

2013_1026_Heat_LakeErie028
Trick or Treat? The Abbotsford Heat’s annual Monster Mash game on Saturday, October 26 brought all kinds of hair-raising beings to the AESC. Thanks to photog extraordinaire Clint Trahan for the picture.

Continue reading Monster Show in Abbotsford

Three out of four ain’t bad

Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur poses with his Spawn Toys likeness during the Abbotsford Heat home opener Friday night. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur poses with his Spawn Toys likeness during the Abbotsford Heat home opener Friday night. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Abbotsford Heat took three of a possible four points in their home opening weekend, splitting extra time results with the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday and Saturday nights.

Six-foot four goaltender Reto Berra backed the Heat to a 3–2 decision on Friday, thanking Corban Knight for ending things 1:58 into overtime. In turn, the Admirals rode 6’5″ netminder Magnus Hellberg to a 2–1 shootout win on Saturday.

It was a familiar refrain of sorts of the Heat, who spent much of last season splitting double headers they probably should have taken outright. The Heat came out of the second intermission on a mission, breaking the zero-zero tie just 41 seconds into the third on Roman Horak’s first of the season. They carried the play for most of the period, but squandered consecutive power plays before giving up a late tying goal against the flow of play. It marked the second game in a row the Heat led going into the final six minutes of play but were unable to hold on for a regulation win.

Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur was in attendance Friday, shaking hands and signing hundreds of autographs; he is the latest in the Heat’s lineup of Hockey Legends to visit the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre. The Man Who Scored The Goal That Sank Don Cherry’s Coaching Career looked great, and was great with the adoring fans who lined the stairwells for a moment with monsieur Lafleur and his blue Sharpie.

Unfortunately the Flower wasn’t enough to bring more people through the turnstyles. More than half the rink was empty for opening night, and game #2? Well, you can see for yourself:

Saturday's official attendance: 1,814. Saturday's actual attendance: judge for yourself. Weak iPhone panorama by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Saturday’s official attendance: 1,814. Saturday’s actual attendance: judge for yourself. (Hint: there were nearly as many people on the benches as there were in the stands.) Weak iPhone panorama by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

More pictures and game highlights after the jump.

Continue reading Three out of four ain’t bad

Just saying

Three things:

1) The Vancouver Canucks have started their season with a loss. Please refer to the last three years’ opening week articles about how this team will be just fine, and that we shouldn’t judge them based on the first ten games of the season.

2) Inside info from someone in the Abbotsford Heat organization (someone who doesn’t blow smoke unnecessarily): “This team has more talent, more passion and more speed than last year’s team. It’s going to be an exciting year in Abbotsford.” Listen to Heat games live on CIVL Radio or at 101.7 when you’re out in the valley. Schedule here.

3) Just saying:

Miley the Cat

Ferraro brings the Cup to Burnaby

Mr Ferraro brought the Cup to Burnaby on Monday afternoon. No, not that Cup. And for that matter, not that Ferraro.

Chances are if you’re from the Vancouver area, you know of Ray Ferraro. Born in Trail, Ray played 18 seasons in the NHL — to this day you’ll see Hartford Whalers jerseys bearing his name round these parts — and since hanging up the skates in 2002 he’s built a tidy career as a broadcaster with Team 1040 and TSN. In 1,258 regular season games and 68 playoff contests, Ray never got close to winning it all in the NHL. But this story isn’t about him. Or the Stanley Cup.

Landon Ferraro, prospect of the Detroit Red Wings, won the Calder Cup with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins last month. He brought the trophy home to the Burnaby Winter Club for an afternoon this week, and chatted about everything from training camps to championships, from the Griffins to grilled cheese sandwiches after hockey practices while growing up. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Landon Ferraro, prospect of the Detroit Red Wings, won the Calder Cup with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins last month. He brought the trophy home to the Burnaby Winter Club for an afternoon this week, and chatted about everything from training camps to championships, from the Griffins to grilled cheese sandwiches after hockey practices while growing up. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

More after the jump.

Continue reading Ferraro brings the Cup to Burnaby