24-27-2-2, 52 pts
#15 Western Conference
30-21-3-2, 65 pts
#5 Western Conference
March 2nd at 9:00 PM
Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre, Abbotsford, BC
It's been a little while for these two clubs, but the outlook is the same for both. Abbotsford is cruising along in the midst of playoff contention, and Texas is far on the outside looking in. It's been a great season for the Heat, who were rock solid in the middle section of the campaign but slowed down recently. Thanks to an early buffer, their recent struggles (along with Houston's) did not move them out of playoff contention.
Netminder Danny Taylor has been the story of the year for the Heat. Leland Irving was the rock in net you expected him to be at 17-9 on the season, but got called up to Calgary for an extended visit with an injury to the Flames' backup. Taylor, a native of England, stepped in admirably, going 12-5 early in the campaign and starting nine straight games immediately after Irving's departure.
Since then, Taylor has cooled, stringing together seven straight losses, a streak halted only a few days ago in Rockford with a 3-2 shootout victory. Taylor is now the man once again as Irving has been recalled to Calgary. Despite his recent struggles, he is still ranked in the top 15 of all goalies in the AHL.
In the season series, Texas's only win in five tries came in the last game between the two. Colton Sceviour scored the game winner with just seconds left on a two-on-one with Scott Glennie. The Heat return Krys Kolanos to the lineup after a stint in the NHL. The eighteen goal man for the Heat was a key piece of their offense early and looks to continue that in his return. Trade acquisition Brian Connelly (5-36-41) is the leading scorer for the Heat in terms of points. Most of those were accumulated before the trade in Rockford, however. Connelly has five assists in nine games with Abbotsford.
According to the playoff prediction sheet, Texas only has four losses to give before they are realistically out of playoff contention. Abbotsford is solidly in the playoffs as of right now, but are surely battling for home ice as the season close draws near. This is not going to be an easy one.
Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Vincour, Garbutt (callup)
Sawada, Labrie, Spang, Schultz, Fortunus (injury)
Blog (unofficial): BC Local News: Abby News
Newspaper: Abbotsford Times
Twitter (play-by-play): @RyanPinder