AHL Preview: Abbotsford Heat vs. Grand Rapids Griffins

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Roman Horak Abbotsford
Roman Horak leads the Abbotsford Heat with 13 goals. Brace Hemmelgarn – USA TODAY Sports

After a Wednesday night that saw the team snap a two-game losing streak and local product Luke Glendening score his first AHL goal on his first shot of his first game, the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) will look to continue their winning ways tonight as they host the Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) in an AHL Western Conference showdown.

The Heat come in as one of the hottest teams in the AHL, trailing only the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes) in the Western Conference. The team has been led by future NHL stars Roman Horak (13 goals, 18 points) and Sven Baertschi (six goals, 17 points), while getting solid efforts from all three of their goaltenders. Barry Brust set an AHL shutout streak earlier this season, surpassing mark formerly held by NHL Hall of Famer Johnny Bower. Brust is 8-2-1 with a 1.16 GAA, while Danny Taylor is 5-5-1 with a 1.81 GAA. Leland Irving has struggled a bit after seeing time with the Flames last season as his 2-2-1 record reflects.

Roster shake-ups early in the week seemed to do the trick for the Griffins Wednesday, as the team got a spark from Glendening and Andrej Nestrasil joining the team. Gustav Nyquist continues to lead Grand Rapids’ offense, with 23 points in 25 games. Tomas Tatar has 11 goals and 10 assists, while Francis Pare added his 10th goal of the season Wednesday and has 17 points.

Petr Mrazek played well between the pipes against the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), and coach Jeff Blashill will have to choose whether to stick with him or give Tom McCollum a chance to put last Sunday’s 5-0 loss behind him. Brust took the hard luck 1-0 loss to the Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks) on Wednesday, so Irving or Taylor could see action tonight. Irving fought Griffins goaltender Joey MacDonald when the Heat visited Van Andel Arena last season.