Gameday Preview: Stars at Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
28-15-2-3, 61 pts
#4 Western Conference
atAbbotsford Heat
30-14-3-1, 64 pts
#1 Western Conference
February 8th at 9:00 PM
Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Center, Abbotsford, BC

The Heat have continued their yo-yo ways as they now claim title to the spot in the Western Conference. Abbotsford started the season hot and built a pretty significant lead. The Stars caught up to and passed them with their game head-to-head on January 10th at the Cedar Park Center. Texas jumped ahead quite a bit themselves but then put themselves in a hole with a poor homestand and a middling road record.

Now the Heat are three points ahead of the Stars as the All-Star Break looms. If Texas hopes to hold the top spot as the break begins, they can do so if they are able to defeat Abbotsford in their two games this weekend in British Columbia.

The Heat are closing out an eight-game homestand with these two contests against Texas. They are on a four-game winning streak and a seven-game point streak. The two losses were in overtime to Utica, which Abbotsford has had a lot of trouble against this season. Overall they are a somewhat inexplicable 2-3-3 against the worst team in the conference. It might have something to do with the hometown support that the Canucks' affiliate Comets enjoy at the AESC.

One of the big drivers of their success this season has been the play in net from rookie Joni Ortio. The Finn has put up a 19-5-0 record with a 2.08 GAA and .930 SV%. That excellent play has gotten him noticed at the NHL level and, for this weekend, he is with the Flames. Joey MacDonald and Olivier Roy are the remaining tenders on the roster.

Special teams lost the Stars' a few games last week and they could be a trouble point this weekend too. The Heat have the best home penalty killing and third-best home power play in the league. Only Texas and Charlotte are better on home ice.

Stars injury/call up report:
Nemeth, Campbell, Petersen, Vause (injury)

Blog (unofficial): BC Local News: Abby News
Newspaper: Abbotsford Times
Twitter: @abbotsfordheat