Hockey fans were the big winners last weekend when two nearly sold-out crowds packed the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre - with the Heat displacing the Chicago Wolves from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 4-1 win Saturday night.
The Heat remain undefeated in regulation play after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks farm team on Friday.
"We skated the game better as the weekend went on," said head coach Troy Ward, referring to the Saturday night win. "After the first period we got pucks deep."
Many fans came to get a glimpse of some of the Canucks young guns, namely forward Zack Kassian, who did not disappoint.
He notched the Wolves' first goal halfway through Friday's second period with rousing cheers from the crowd. Tyler Ruegsegger answered for the Heat with a power play goal, and in the third the Wolves regained the lead before Roman Horak tied it up 2-2 at the end of regulation.
After the scoreless overtime, the Wolves scored three of four shoot-out attempts, with the winner coming from Kassian.
Danny Taylor stopped 27 of 29 shots for the Heat in regulation.
On Saturday before 7,046 fans, Barry Brust got the start in goal for the Heat. It was another Kassian shot that got past the netminder at 8: 19 in the first period. It was the Wolves' first and only score.
After that it was all Heat, with Carter Bancks tying it up in the second and Dustin Sylvester, Sven Baertschi and Horak padding the lead in the third.
"We had a lot of shots right away. We played a lot of offence hockey," said Baertschi after the game.
Baertschi now has three goals and three assists in the first four games of his AHL career.
"We got a great push from Carter [Bancks]," said Ward.
"For not a big guy he's got a lot of heart and a lot of character. It's an emotional lift for our team, when the rest of the bench feels that guy's pushing that hard, the rest of us push equally hard."
When asked what was the difference between the Friday and Saturday night games for the Heat, Ward said: "We got pucks deep, we got pucks on [goalie Eddie] Lack. We got our legs a little bit."
The Heat are one for three on the power play and are six for 16 so far this season. The Abbotsford penalty kill has yet to allow a goal against on 13 chances.
"Our power play and penalty kill are the best in the league right now. We've got off to a good start. We've had some continuity," said Ward.
Brust stopped 25 of 26 shots in his first start of the season and gained some praise from his teammates.
"Barry was outstanding. He's a different style goalie," said Bancks.
"He battles hard, works hard every day in practice. He was really solid back there and made a lot of great saves for us."
The Heat earned three points in the two-game series against the Wolves and will travel east to take on the Lake Erie Monsters and Hamilton Bulldogs next weekend.
"This is an important weekend. We have to establish how we're going to play on the road," said Ward.
The Heat return home to host the Toronto Marlies on Nov. 1 - 2 at the AESC.
? Do you see yourself in our new photo gallery of Abbotsford Heat fans? Check it out at www.abbotsfordtimes. com.