Heat hopefuls lay it on the line during intra-squad game

With roster cuts looming, the Abbotsford Heat's Red vs. White intra-squad game on Friday morning took on a level of intensity more commonly associated with the playoffs.

Riley Emmerson (in red) staggers Ryley Grantham with a right in a fight during Friday's intra-squad scrimmage.

With roster cuts looming, the Abbotsford Heat’s Red vs. White intra-squad game on Friday morning took on a level of intensity more commonly associated with the playoffs.

With Calgary Flames executives John Weisbrod, Craig Conroy and Ron Sutter looking on from the stands at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, the scrimmage was punctuated by several big hits and a pair of fights.

Just a couple minutes in, Riley Emmerson, a 6’8″ Abbotsford Minor Hockey product in Heat training camp on a tryout, earned a decision over incumbent Heat tough guy Ryley Grantham. Shortly thereafter, veteran forward Stefan Meyer dropped the mitts with tryout defenceman Nick Tuzzolino.

When the dust had settled, Team White had earned a 4-0 victory over Team Red, and the aforementioned four players weren’t the only players who impressed using their hands.

Justin Dowling, Greg Nemisz, Mitch Wahl and Bryan Cameron scored for Team White.

Dowling stole the show in the early going, scoring on a feed from Joshua Turnbull after Team Red goalie Joni Ortio mishandled the puck behind the net. Then, he picked up an assist after Nemisz chipped in his rebound.

The game featured two 30-minute stop-time halves, with Ortio and Leland Irving starting between the pipes for Team Red and Team White, respectively. David Brown (red) and Andrew Engelage (white) came in to play the second half.

After the break, Wahl made it 3-0 on the power play, ripping a shot past Brown from the top of the right circle.

Cameron rounded out the scoring with a highlight-reel effort. The sophomore forward stole the puck and broke in alone on Brown, before roofing a backhander under the crossbar.

Afterward, Dowling said that producing in the scrimmage was a nice confidence boost.

“As long as I’m getting chances and putting up points, I know that’s what Wardo (Heat head coach Troy Ward) wants me to do,” he said. “I’m not going to be a fourth-line guy, hitting people, so I’ve got to be putting up points or I’m not going to be playing.”

In the physicality department, Team White defenceman J.P. Cote made himself conspicuous by standing up Dustin Sylvester at the blue line. Mitch Versteeg of Team Red upended Nemisz with a nice hip check along the boards.

“I’m a seven-year pro, and that was probably the most intense intra-squad game I’ve had in the AHL,” Meyer said afterward. “As you could see from watching the game today, there were no passengers. Guys were going hard, and when it comes down to it, it’s what they want, and it’s what the coaches want to get.”

As for fighting in the scrimmage, Meyer said it’s a somewhat uncomfortable situation.

“You never really want that to happen,” he said. “But we’re all trying to get ramped up for the season, and a guy like me, I like to play on the edge. When that happens, you’ve got to answer the bell and you’ve got to show the guys this is no screw-around time.

“I guarantee you if you go to teams who have won a Calder Cup, they’ve got hungry players. The tone has to be set. Older guys like me have to show that this is a team that’s going to go to war. It doesn’t matter what the setting is. We’re here to work, and we’re here to win as well.”

Quintin Laing (right) tries to swat away a loose puck with his glove during Friday’s intra-squad scrimmage as Ryley Grantham (in white) lurks in front of goalie David Brown.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Missing Maple Ridge man’s car found in Harrison

Michael Denham has been missing since June 27

PHOTOS: Otter Co-op opens in east Abbotsford

New grocery store hosts grand opening on Monday morning

UFV grads of 2020 honoured in innovative ways

No convocation ceremony due to pandemic, but grads receive ‘celebration box’

Abbotsford Flea Market reopening on Sunday

Market has been closed since March 8 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Abbotsford City Hall re-opens for scheduled appointments

In-person meetings with staff can now be booked for the first time since March

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

Greater Victoria nanny pleads guilty to child porn, sexual interference charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to slew of sex crimes

Victoria man dies after skydiving incident on Vancouver Island

34-year-old had made more than 1,000 jumps

BC Wildfire Service to conduct night vision trials for helicopters in South Okanagan

This technology could assist with future firefighting operations

Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

QCL reopens July 10, says president; Haida chief councillor describes ‘dangerous’ boating encounter

Kamloops RCMP officer’s conduct under review after blackface jokes on social media

Meinke’s Instagram is private and it’s unclear when the posts were made

NHL says 35 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 8

Positive rate for the league is just under 6%

Most Read