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.

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

Just Posted

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Mission Fire Rescue Service holding a training session in 2016. Bob Friesen photo.
Firefighter’s human-rights complaint against District of Mission dismissed

District had just reason for firing man for insubordination, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found

The annual Toys for Tots event in Abbotsford normally includes a free breakfast for anyone who drops off a toy or cash donation. This year’s event was to be held as a drive-thru, but that has also been cancelled. (File photo)
Toys for Tots drive-thru event cancelled in Abbotsford

Public encouraged to donate cash or bring toys to drop-off locations

Abbotsford Panthers star Haidyn Vermeulen (right) celebrates his signing with the Alberta Golden Bears football program along with his mother Niki Vermeulen and father Dan Vermeulen back in September.
Abbotsford’s Haidyn Vermeulen named to CFC Prospect Game

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School student one of 14 from B.C. to earn recognition

Shane Goodvin had just bought a house with wife Laura Major when he started experiencing severe back pain. That led to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and the father of five children is now in rough shape. (Submitted photos)
GoFundMe set up for Chilliwack man fighting pancreatic cancer

Shane Goodvin has five children and a loving wife, and he’s worried about their future

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

File photo
Surrey RCMP investigating death threat against Surrey councillor

‘On Monday morning I received a threat on messenger that basically said to put a bullet in me,’ Councillor Jack Hundial told the Now-Leader

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Most Read