The Abbotsford Heat showed their mettle as they shut out the highly touted Oklahoma City Barons 4-0 before a capacity crowd of 7,046 at the AESC Friday night.
Fans came from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the Edmonton Oiler's young guns in action, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Burnaby, Justin Schultz from Kelowna, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
Busloads of fans from Edmonton, folks from the Okanagan, Williams Lake and Vancouver helped fill the Abbotsford arena, but it was the home-town Heat that gave their fans something to cheer about.
"I liked the fact that we got out of the gates well, that was really critical," said head coach Troy Ward, who insisted they did nothing special in preparing for this high-profile series against the Barons.
"It's one of 76 [games]. It doesn't matter who we play."
Dustin Sylvester kicked off the scoring with a power play goal late in the first period (assisted by Ben Street and T.J. Brodie), then Street added another PP goal halfway through the second (assisted by Sven Baertschi and Brodie), to give the Heat a 2-0 advantage.
But it may have been the Heat's third goal, credited to Ben Walter that took the wind out of Oklahoma City. A Barons defenseman's pass from behind their net ricocheted off a teammate, hit Walter's skate and landed back in their own net for a Heat goal.
Krys Kolanos then scored halfway through the third on another power play to put the game out of reach.
Ward was pleased with his team's 3-for-9 performance on the power play.
'We have a deeper [PP] organization than in the last couple years. We've had two good groups this year and it makes a difference in how you prepare and practise," he said. "Both groups are competitive and they battle against each other. With that battle it brings out some better results."
After missing the beginning of the season due to injury, centre Paul Byron was back in the lineup for his first game with the Heat.
"Paul gave us good energy, he gave us an element of speed," said Ward. "Paul's a really competitive kid. He's got the heart of a lion."
Goalie Danny Taylor earned his fourth win and first shutout of the season as the Heat outshot the Barons 36-23. The Heat were perfect on the penalty kill (five-for-five) with a 98 per cent (44 of 45) PK on the season to lead the league.
The Heat/Barons rivalry will resume tonight, Nov. 10, as they hit the ice at 7 p.m. at the AESC. The game is sold out but fans can watch all the action on Sportsnet One.