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.
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.
Dousing the Heat
The 2013-14 Abbotsford Heat will have a new look at both ends of the ice, as their number one goaltender and top scorer have both signed with Swedish Elite League teams this week. Danny Taylor, he of the 2.05 goals against average and the 18-10-2 record — keep in mind those numbers were earned with a team that failed to make the playoffs — has now inked a two-year deal with Färjestad BK.
“It’s twice as much money as I’ve ever made in a hockey season,” Taylor told the Abbotsford News, adding that stability was important in his decision. “I’ve had three or four seasons where I’m waiting around (for a contract) and it’s August, and I’m pulling my nails out of my fingers wondering where I’m going to go.” Including his two-game stint with the Calgary Flames in 2013, the 27-year-old Taylor has played for a dozen pro teams since his junior career ended in 2005.
Also leaving on a jet plane is the Heat’s all-time leading scorer, 29-year-old centre Ben Walter — he signed with Örebro Hockey for the upcoming season.
A few things before this weekend officially draws to a close:
Canadian Tennis is on the Rise
Canada beat Ukraine 3-2 this weekend to qualify for World Group II play in 2014. Number 93-ranked Eugenie Bouchard and #125 Sharon Fichman both beat #71 Lesia Tsurenko for two of Canada’s wins, but #90 Ellna Svitolina was perfect for the weekend, earning both of Ukraine’s points. Canada won the deciding doubles match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, to record the win. Bouchard, of course, made headlines last year when she won the junior women’s singles title at Wimbledon. Canada will compete with Sweden, Japan, Serbia, Argentina, France, Poland and the loser of Australia and Switzerland in the 2014 World Group II; four of those teams will play for the right to enter the top World Group in 2015. It’s a fabulous result for the Canadian women, and comes on the heels of the men’s team advancing to the Davis Cup final four with consecutive wins in Vancouver against Italy and Spain. (The Fed Cup structure is complicated to explain, but relatively easy on the eyes. Check out this link if you’d like more enlightenment in this area.)
More, including BCHL and AHL hockey, and MLS soccer, after the break.
Hockey fans in Abbotsford were treated to another Hall of Famer at centre ice as the hometown Heat beat the Toronto Marlies 3-1 on Sunday afternoon. Two days after legendary forward Darryl Sittler opened the curtain on a 3-0 Heat win, goaltender Johnny Bower was in attendance to shake hands with Abbotsford goaltender Barry Brust, who earlier this season broke Bower’s AHL record for consecutive shutout minutes. Brust went 268:17 without allowing a goal, eclipsing Bower’s mark of 249:51, set with the 1957 Cleveland Barons.
Brust was called upon to relieve the injured Danny Taylor in the second period, and stopped all but one shot to record the win for Abbotsford.
Mark Cundari was again impressive for the Heat. He earned three assists, two minor penalties and a fight in his second game since being traded to the Calgary Flames organization in the Jay Bouwmeester deal. Cundari has quickly become a fan favourite in Abbotsford, leading many to lament the fact that he was not in the lineup earlier in the season when the team floundered through a series of “must-win” games.
In addition to the Bower / Brust tête-a-tête, fans witnessed the Heat’s franchise-best 23rd home victory in the final game at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre this season. Sadly, those 46 points gained at home did not add up to a playoff spot for the Heat, whose road record leaves much to be desired. The team sits in 12th spot in the Western Conference and were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs despite the back-to-back wins this weekend.
The Abbotsford Heat and Grand Rapids Griffins split back-to-back games this weekend, as the Heat avenged a 4-1 Friday night loss with a 3-2 shootout win on Saturday night. The Griffins are running away with the Midwest Division, sitting 10 points up on the second-place Chicago Wolves, while the Heat at this point are a longshot to make the Western Conference playoffs.
The Abbotsford Heat came into Friday night’s game desperate for a win, but it was Landon Ferraro and the Grand Rapids Griffins who left with two points. With his father Ray, veteran of over 1,200 NHL games and 10 years of work in the broadcast booth, in attendance, Ferraro scored twice including the game-winner to further ruin any hope of the Abbotsford Heat backing into the playoffs.
The Heat are now three points back of the Chicago Wolves for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with the Wolves having three games in hand. Abbotsford has won just three games in their last 10. More after the jump.
Huge props to Caleb Henry of the BCIT Broadcasting program for shooting some footage at the most recent Abbotsford Heat home stand, including a brief interview with Sven Bärtschi. (No, I don’t ask him if he’s ever been to Utica.)
Despite playing just 30 games with the AHL team this season — he missed a chunk of the year due to injury, and spent 10 games with the big club in Calgary — he is the fifth leading scorer on the team with 25 points. That includes a goal and an assist in each of the last three Heat wins. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, as he proved himself as an elite threat with the Portland Winterhawks in his last year in the WHL, notching exactly two points per game: 94 points in 47 games. With the departure of Jarome Iginla from the Flames, don’t be surprised to see Bärtschi take a more regular position at the Saddledome next season.
Check out Caleb’s editing handiwork below. It’s our first foray into full-on video coverage, so any and all feedback is much appreciated!
The Abbotsford Heat are on the road this week, with three games of the must-win variety. Wednesday and Friday give the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate a chance at points against the last place Hamilton Bulldogs, while Saturday offers an afternoon tilt against the division-leading Toronto Marlies. The Heat are in tough to make the playoffs, having won just three of their last ten games.
At the Abbotsford Heat game last night, I got some great shots (and some not so marvellous pictures, too, but that’s the way she goes). Here’s something a little different. Check out this pic of Brad Mills drawing a penalty shot in the second period. Then look below to see a shot by Heat photographer Clint Trahan of the exact same moment in the game — there’s me photobombing the shot behind Danny Taylor in the Abbotsford net.