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.

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: The Fraser Valley Auto Mall food drive and convoy

Convoy heads down South Fraser Way, delivers food and money to the Archway Food Bank of Abbotsford

Sweeney Singers host annual Christmas concert in Abbotsford

Event takes place Saturday, Dec. 21 at St. James Church

Four vehicle accident causing southbound gridlock on Highway 11

Accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. at intersection with Valley Road, ambulance on scene

VIDEO: Canada’s only mobile shower trailer for homeless run by Abbotsford Mennonites

Refresh Mobile Showers started operations on May 1, provided over 550 showers

Got that festive feeling? Here are some things to do in Abbotsford

Plenty of holiday fun still left leading up to Christmas

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Surrey councillor wants the policing transition process to ‘immediately stop’

Brenda Locke to make motion at Dec. 16 meeting to reconsider current plan

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in 2017 Stanley Park stabbing

Lubomir Kunik was found by a man out walking his dog on the beach late on Feb. 1, 2017

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

Encampment in the city’s Downtown Eastside is one of many that have sprung up in B.C.

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Most Read