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OCTOBER 2011

IRVING back for more PAGE 3

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Amy Williams photo

Heat goalie Leland Irving turns aside a shot against the Grand Rapids Griffins last season.

Irving leads the way for Heat DanKINVIG ABBOTSFORD NEWS

Heading into the 2011-12 season, there’s a strong argument to be made that Leland Irving is the face of the Abbotsford Heat franchise. Former head coach Jim Playfair filled that role during the AHL club’s first two seasons in town, but he’s moved onward and upward, having accepted an associate coaching job with the Phoenix Coyotes in June. Among other candidates, Heat president Ryan Walter and bench boss Troy Ward certainly have a public profile, but they’re both less than four months into their respective jobs. Which leaves Irving, the 23-year-old goaltender from Swan Hills, Alta. He’s one of just two players currently

on the roster who were around for the Heat’s first-ever game in 2009, the other being defenceman John Negrin. But Negrin, having missed 91 games since then due to persistent injury issues, is far less familiar to local fans than Irving. The keeper, furthermore, was the Heat’s MVP last season when he backstopped the offensively challenged club to the brink of a playoff berth against all odds. And after spending the past two off-seasons here, he’s basically an honourary Abbotsford native at this point. Then there are the Heat promotional banners hanging from lamp posts all around town, depicting Irving making a save. Pitch the face-of-the-franchise thesis to Irving, though, and he handles it like a

shot from centre ice – he steers it to the corner with his metaphorical blocker. “I never look at it that way,” he said. “We’re out there as a group, and we’re playing for the logo on the jersey. There’s no one guy that’s going to take this team anywhere. It’s going to take all of us.” Fair enough. But what about your face on all those banners? “They’re hard to miss,” Irving said with a chuckle, and perhaps a blush. “It is cool, but I like to try to keep it low-key. “I don’t consider myself any sort of celebrity. I’m a regular person who’s out here playing hockey for a living.” Irving, a regular person though he may be, was anything but average between the pipes for the Heat last season.

He was a true workhorse, as only four goalies – Barry Brust of the Binghamton Senators, Richard Bachman of the Texas Stars, Eddie Lack of the Manitoba Moose and Matt Climie of the San Antonio Rampage – saw more rubber than the 1,518 shots the Heat starting keeper faced last season. Irving thrived under the workload, leading the league in shutouts (eight) and setting an AHL record for shootout wins in a season (nine). He also finished second overall with 30 wins, while posting a 2.30 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. In the wake of Irving’s stellar campaign, there was buzz that he might be in the running to back up Miikka Kiprusoff with the NHL parent Calgary Flames Continued on page 10

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Goalie coach Sigalet can’t be stopped by MS

w

DanKINVIG ABBOTSFORD NEWS

Jordan Sigalet’s NHL goaltending career lasted all of 43 seconds – a true blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stint in Boston Bruins silks on Jan. 7, 2006. But that fleeting moment in time represented the high point of a remarkable journey. Nearly three years prior, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), Sigalet was told by doctors that he’d never be able to play hockey again. So, while 43 seconds might not seem like a long time, it meant the world to Sigalet. “It was a huge honour,” recalled Sigalet, who came on in relief of injured Bruins starter Andrew Raycroft at the tail end of a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I’d backed up for about nine or 10 games, and Raycroft came skating over to the bench, all keeled over. I’m like, ‘Oh man, I’m going in.’ The heart started racing, and I can’t even remember it at this point, it was so short. I

didn’t even get a shot (on goal). But I was out there. “I can say I played the game.” These days, the 30-year-old Sigalet works as the Abbotsford Heat’s goalie coach, but he also serves as an inspiration to many people who live with MS, an inflammatory disease which affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. Sigalet’s first inkling that something was wrong came back in the spring of 2003, when he was at Bowling Green State University. After playing back-to-back games on a Friday and a Saturday, he woke up Sunday morning and his left foot was completely numb. “I thought I’d slept on it funny, like how you might wake up with pins and needles in your arm or your leg,” he explained. “I went about my day and it didn’t go away – it just kept

Heat goalie coach Jordan Sigalet (left) shares some pointers with Leland Irving. humming and buzzing every time I stepped. The next day I woke up, and it was like that from the chest down.” After undergoing a battery of tests, Sigalet received the gut-wrenching MS diagnosis. His first instinct was to keep the news to himself. “I’d been drafted by Boston, and I thought if they found out, they’d just drop me and

Dan Kinvig photo

forget about me,” he said. “For six months, just my family knew.” Sigalet immediately began taking medication to slow the progress of the disease, but he only sat out one game before returning to the Bowling Green lineup. “Because my hands were still numb, I had to get used to holding a stick again,” he said. In December of 2003, about nine months Continued on page 11

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a Exciting times ahead few Thank you for allowing me to play a part in your professional hockey team, the Abbotsford Heat! These first days and weeks have been exciting and extremely busy. My time in early August was filled with getting to know the people, culture, and business processes of our Heat organization. The latest days have been focused on training camp, and preparing for our Home Opener Weekend games on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. But almost every day during these first months, my wife, Jenni, and I have also loved getting out and meeting many of you hockey fans throughout Abbotsford and the greater community. We, as a team, are committed to being part of your community; we are committed to making this amazing team, the Abbotsford Heat, an important ingredient in your community, and we are committed to delivering a brand of hockey that you will be proud of. I sensed right from the start how very fortunate I am to work

words from the

Ryan WALTER

prez

with the amazing people at the heart of the Heat! Our organization has two distinct teams that work closely together to create one amazing experience for our guests: our on-ice team and our office team. Both teams have talented people who have been working tirelessly to prepare for the opening of your Heat’s third season. Head coach Troy Ward and his staff represent the “new breed” of coaches seeping into professional hockey. We will be a team that both develops player talent and wins games at the same time. I have always felt that those two things need not be exclusive. We win more consistently as our players maximize their skills. The big “ah-ha” moment for me

as a young NHL player was observing how hard players worked to improve their skills once they arrived at the NHL level, and building this expectation will be the focus of our new coaching staff. Many of you will have the opportunity to personally meet our coaching staff and players this season, but I also hope that you will take the time to meet our people on the business side of our game. Let me end this first of many columns with a final thought, highlighted by a favourite story. Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions in the early 1950s. On her first attempt, as Florence was nearing the English coast after swimming for hours, the water turned much

We are committed to delivering a brand of hockey you will be proud of.

colder, the waves grew much bigger, and everything was shrouded in thick fog. Florence’s pace slowed markedly, and her mother tried to spur her on from one of the small boats following behind, explaining that she had only a little further to go. In exhaustion, however, Florence gave up. Heartbroken when she realized how close she had actually come, Florence later told the media, “I am not offering excuses, but I think that I could have made it if I had been able to see my goal.” Prior to her next attempt, Florence created her very own powerful mental image of the coast of England. She memorized every detail, visualizing the image over and over in her mind. When she swam, Florence encountered the same difficult conditions of cold, waves, and fog, but her vision saw her through to success. NHL and AHL players also visualize the game that they want to play. They spend time thinking about, and focusing on, the aspects of the game that will give them their desired result. Our Continued on page 11

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Ward settling into top job In each edition of the Abbotsford News’s FACEOFF magazine, beat reporter Dan Kinvig chats with head coach Troy Ward about the state of the team. For future editions of FACEOFF, fans are invited to pose their own questions for Ward. Submit your questions for consideration via email to sports@abbynews.com, or via Twitter to @dankinvigsports. We spoke with Ward during the first week of Heat training camp.

HE

H C N E B T

Troy WARD

Q After being an assistant coach with the Heat last year, what’s it like to come back as the head coach this fall?

A “The easy part has been being familiar

with the town, and just being familiar with what the amenities are around me. That’s made it real easy. If you can imagine coming to Madison, Wis. and writing for the paper for a month, it would be like, ‘Where to I eat? Where do I shop?’ It’s just a whole different world. That part has been a really simplistic process, since I already know my way around. It makes for less anxiety as a person, and it lets me work really long hours. That’s made it an easier transition. “Also, knowing what we have to work with here, as a teacher, has really helped. “Oftentimes, when you inherit a new team and a new locker room, but you’ve never been there, it takes a while for it to

MAD DOG’S

Q To build on that, you’ve mentioned

you’ll be giving the two assistants (Luke Strand and Cail MacLean) a lot of responsibility. Do you have specific roles for each of those guys?

A “When we have the puck, Luke’s in

charge. When we don’t have the puck, Cail’s in charge. That’s how it works. One’s an offensive co-ordinator, one’s a defensive co-ordinator. It’s very similar to football. That’s how it’s run internally. “They both used to be head coaches, so I give them a lot of freedom. “Any one of these two assistants, they’re trying to become head coaches in the AHL. So I’m kind of like, how do you make a diamond? Pressure. That’s me. Welcome to my world.”

Q I like your football analogy with

the coaching staff. Is it safe to say you’re a football fan? And being from

Wisconsin, you must cheer for the Packers.

A “I enjoy pro football, but I’ve lived in so many places. I’ve lived in Denver, Indianapolis, and I like all those teams because I’ve had an identity with them. So I don’t get stuck on one particular team.” Q I notice at the end of every practice, the players get together in a circle with the coaches and bang their sticks on the ice twice in unison. What the story behind that ritual?

A “We do it every day. It’s a team thing, kind of a bonding thing. I have a guy who’s worked with me for 14 years, his name is Wes Bolin . . . He was a college teammate of mine, and at Hockey and Sons, my summer camp, he finishes every practice with the double clap. “It’s something that me and Luke (Strand) have been a part of – Luke’s been teaching for me for 14 years. This is a part of our identity, no matter where we’ve been as head coaches. It’s a Hockey and Sons bonding thing, because it’s about parentchild (connection). In this case, me and my staff are the parents, and they (the players) are the children. We’ve just extended the double clap to our real life.”

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The Heat played a more defensive-minded style last season under former head coach Jim Playfair. Ward's reasons for moving to a more up-tempo system are two-fold. It's a style that jives with his coaching philosophy, and since the Heat have a more veteran roster this season than last, he has the personnel to run it. "Last year, at times, we were in a school zone," he said. "We played at 10 or 15 miles an hour. This year, we're going to be on the highway."

+ THE PREPARATION Playing an up-tempo system requires up-tempo practices, and Ward said the players are still getting acclimated. "I demand execution through fatigue," he explained. "We've still yet to Ă„gure out that practices are harder than games. "Practices have got to be way more intense than they currently are, way more physical and at a higher speed, for us to be a winning team. And we're not there yet."

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If the Heat are to be a good offensive team, Ward says it starts with how they break out of the defensive zone. A hidden element to success is how well the goaltender handles the puck. "The biggest difference in today's game, for me, is your goalie involvement and how he can move things around," he said. "That's where (Leland) Irving was better last year than the year prior. He made better puck decisions behind his own net. "If we can exit out of our end fairly well at a high speed, it sets us up for a better offensive year."

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G U I D E

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When he was hired in June, new Heat head coach Troy Ward promised to install an aggressive puck-possession style. He took a break during training camp to share some of the principles of his offensive system.

Ward would prefer his team maintain possession heading into the offensive zone, via skating the puck in or passing it, but dump-ins will be necessary at times. The trick is to do it effectively. "We're not going to put it behind the net or at the net very much, like we did last year," he said. "If the net is the green on a golf course, it's Hole 9, we're probably going to put the puck in the sand traps. And we're going to go get it."

+ THE ATTACK

In the offensive zone, puck security is a huge priority for Ward. Blind passes often become turnovers that kill offensive efÄciency, and the Heat bench boss won't tolerate that sort of decisionmaking. "The mentality is, we'd always like to have the puck and be patient with it, versus just throwing a blind pass away or giving it to the opposition," he said. "I'm not going to be very forgiving on soft turnovers. Soft turnovers will result in no ice time."

+ THE RETRIEVAL Ward wants his team to put a lot of pucks on net and get pressure in the crease in the offensive zone. Once the shot is taken, it's all about puck retrieval. "We've always got a plan in place for how to keep our pucks," he said. "On a shot, everybody has an area to get the puck back. If it's in your area, you'd better get the puck back."

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Irving’s sights set firmly on NHL Continued from page 2

this fall. The Flames, though, were comfortable with incumbent backup Henrik Karlsson, and re-signed him to a new two-year, one-way NHL contract in June. That turn of events was vexing to Irving. The Flames made a qualifying offer to retain his services, but knowing he was ticketed for another year in the AHL, Irving seriously considered an offer to play in Europe. “It was frustrating,” Irving admitted. “I went out and did exactly what Calgary asked of me, and proved that I could be a starter and a consistent No. 1 (in the AHL). When that (Karlsson contract) happened, it kind of sends a message. “There was a deal in place (in Europe) if I wanted it. But I wanted to stay in North America. My goal is still to play in the NHL, but it’s a process and it takes time getting there. The AHL is the best development league. You’ve got more guys coming out of here than any other league.” A big part of Irving’s decision to come back on a one-year contract was his strong relationship with Ward, combined with the fact the Flames made a move to shore up netminder development by hiring Jordan Sigalet as the Heat’s first full-time goalie coach.

John Van Putten file photo

“Providing I play well, I’m going to get to play a lot, which is going to be huge for my development,” Irving said. “It’s going to

be a lot better than playing 10 or 15 games behind Kipper. For the long run, there’s no other place I’d rather be than Abbotsford.”

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Irving stuck around Abbotsford the past two summers because his hometown doesn’t offer the same training opportunities. He skated regularly with a group of local pros, including Kyle Cumiskey of the Colorado Avalanche and current AHLers like Dean Arsene, David Van der Gulik and Derek Grant. Off the ice, Irving worked part-time at Fraserglen Golf and Training Centre, teaching lessons to kids. “It’s just something fun for me to do to keep busy,” he said. “They seem to enjoy it, and that puts a smile on my face.” Irving was also a frequent presence at Abbotsford Recreation Centre, working out alongside Heat defenceman Chris Breen. Breen, at 6’7” and 224 pounds, set the bar high for the goalie. “He’s a big guy, and he’s tough to keep up with in the gym,” Irving said with a grin. “It was great, and we pushed each other along all summer.” As the Heat embark on a new season, Irving says it’s a “huge” year for him. “I’ve got to earn whatever I get next year,” he said. “But at the same time, we’re just here to play. At the end of the day, you just want to have fun, and winning is fun. We’ve got a great group of guys here, and we’re headed in the right direction. We’re definitely excited about the year ahead.”

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Going public about MS a relief

Continued from page 4

after his initial MS diagnosis, Sigalet decided it was time to go public. “There were times when I wasn’t feeling good when I’d hide it and say I was just sick, or had a cold,” he said. “I was kind of sick of lying, and I think people started to realize something a little more serious was going on. “It was just a burden on my shoulders, and once I told everyone, I had great support. It was a great relief to me, and let me just focus on my hockey.” The following season, Sigalet returned to the Bowling Green lineup and put together his best col-

Troy Ward said Sigalet’s presence brings “a whole new level of professionalism” to the AHL club. Leland Irving, the Heat’s starting netminder, expressed excitement at the opportunity to work with a dedicated position coach. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Irving said. “Jordan’s a great goalie coach. He’s detailed, but up-to-date with all the modern fundamentals of goaltending. He’s very level-headed – he’s not going to scream and yell at you, but everything he says makes sense.” Sigalet, who was born in New Westminster and grew up in Cloverdale, has taken on several fundraising projects to support MS

organization followed by a short stint with a pro team in Vienna, Austria, Sigalet retired and made the transition into coaching. He began teaching private lessons through Pro Formance Goalie School, then was hired as the goalie coach for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips SIGALET for the 2010-11 season. Sigalet made the jump to pro hockey in August, when he was hired to be the Heat’s first fulltime goalie coach. Head coach

legiate campaign, going 16-12-3 with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. His remarkable return was featured in Sports Illustrated and Men’s Health, and he was nominated for an ESPY award as the best comeback athlete for 2004-05. “I didn’t win the award, but I got to go down to Hollywood for the awards, got to visit the Playboy mansion – a lot of different events,” he said. “It was just a great experience. “Going public allowed me to reach out to other people, using hockey through those publications, to get the word out about MS.” After three seasons in the Bruins

research. His foundation, Shut Out MS, stages a dinner and charity hockey game in Burnaby every second year, and has generated approximately $180,000 for the National MS Society. “Sometimes you almost get MS as a middle name – Jordan Sigalet with MS,” he said with a wry grin. “But every time somebody reads it or hears it, it does create that awareness. “I know when I was diagnosed, I didn’t even know what MS was. I’m hoping the next time someone’s diagnosed, they’ll know a little bit more about it, and maybe there’ll even be a cure by that time.”

‘Our vision is to be your team’: Walter Continued from page 5

commitment to you is that we, at the Heat, will do the same. We have a strong vision of not only working every season towards bringing you

an exciting brand of hockey that you are proud of. Thank you for partnering with us to make this vision a reality. Ryan Walter played and

Our vision is to be your team. Our vision includes providing you with a fun, entertaining experience. Our vision sees our building filled with you and your friends watching

a championship team, but also delivering to you and to our community a brand that you will be proud of. We have much work ahead of us, but we’re not afraid of work!

Going to a Heat game? Come in for your pre-game meal and we’ll treat you to one of our homemade desserts to share!

coached for 17 seasons in the National Hockey League and is now president of the Abbotsford Heat. He writes a monthly column for Faceoff magazine.

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12

ABBOTSFORD NEWS

Tuesday, October 11 , 2011

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T E R E E MUMB

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BREW N’ CHEW MONDAYS ~ $4

Burger, Sleeve of Sleeman’s or a Bellini. Now Enjoy the Game!

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John Van Putten file photo

GregNEMISZ Q If you were showing someone around your hometown of Courtice, Ont., what’s the first local landmark you’d show them?

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A”Courtice, wow. There’s not too much going on there, to be honest.

There’s no landmarks, there really aren’t. It’s right on the border of Oshawa, but still. It’s expanding right now – it used to be a lot smaller. I think there’s 20,000 people there right now. But there’s not a whole lot we do, other than play sports and stuff like that.”

Q What was the first thing you bought with your first professional paycheck?

A”The first thing I bought was probably some new clothes and some new

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shoes, stuff like that. I needed to update the wardrobe.”

Q If you weren’t a pro hockey player, which line of work would you be in?

A”I’d probably be teaching. A high school teacher, something like that.

I just thought it would be a good job, and you get the summers off as well!”

Q You roomed with three teammates last year – T.J. Brodie, Bryan

Cameron and John Negrin. Who’s the messiest out of that bunch?

A”They’re all good roommates, but Cammy is definitely the messiest. We

had a good household, though. There’s no one I wouldn’t live with again out of that group, for sure.”

Q Which song on your iPod do you hope your teammates never find out about?

A”My iPod was on today (in the locker room), actually. I have so much stuff on my iPod . . . I guess I have a little bit of Florence and the Machine, which is kind of a girl band.”

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Q Who’s got the worst sense of style on this Heat team? A”Worst sense of style is T.J. Brodie. He’s a little bit gangster, for sure.”


ABBOTSFORD NEWS

O F F I C I A L

F A N

G U I D E

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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2011/2012 SEASON

OCTOBER

FRIDAY OCTOBER 7 SATURDAY OCTOBER 8 FRIDAY OCTOBER 14 SUNDAY OCTOBER 16 FRIDAY OCTOBER 21 SATURDAY OCTOBER 22 WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 26 FRIDAY OCTOBER 28 SUNDAY OCTOBER 30

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DATES COLOURED RED ARE HOME GAMES.

13


14

ABBOTSFORD NEWS

Tuesday, October 11 , 2011

AT T E N T I O N :

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HOCKEY 101

Minor and Junior

Hockey players

BRUSH UP ON YOUR HOCKEY KNOWLEDGE

E N T E R to W I N

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ELBOWING (minor or major penalty) Shall be imposed on a Player who uses their elbow in any way to foul an opponent.

Referee signal: Tapping the elbow with the palm of the other hand.

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HAND PASS (no penalty)

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Play will be stopped when a player illegally passes the puck with their hand.

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Referee signal: The non-whistle hand (open hand) and arm are placed straight down alongside the body and swung forward and up once in an underhand motion.

D i v i si on:

Em a i l: Hockey Equipment Contest closes April 15,

BODY CHECKING

2012

A player can use a shoulder, hip or torso to hit or impede an opponent, but only when the opponent is in possession of the puck. A body check to the head is illegal. If the opponent is facing the boards, a body check to the opponent’s back is illegal.

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ABBOTSFORD NEWS

O F F I C I A L

pilot

F A N

G U I D E

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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Lamb primed for big season DanKINVIG

play

ABBOTSFORD NEWS

Each of the past three Septembers, Riley Lamb thought long and hard about whether there was room for hockey in his life anymore. The Abbotsford Pilots are ecstatic that in each instance, the talented left winger answered to the affirmative. Lamb lit up the Pacific International Junior Hockey League over the past two seasons, leading the league in scoring in 2009-10 with 79 points (35 goals, 44 assists) in 47 games. Last year, he was third overall with 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) in 39 contests. He’s returned this fall to lead a deep and talented Pilots squad which already has a berth to the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial championship secured, by virtue of the fact they’re hosting the event in April. “He’s a special player,” Pilots head coach Jim Cowden said of his star 5’8” left winger. “He’s not the prettiest skater when you look at him. But you know what, he’s so smart when he has that puck, he makes the people around him special too.” Cowden describes Lamb as a mature person, and the 20-year-old’s big-picture approach nearly drew him away from the game on several occasions. Prior to the 2009-10 season, the Port Coquitlam product nearly hung up his skates

Riley Lamb (right) led the PIJHL in scoring in 2009-10. in order to focus on his Grade 12 studies and his burgeoning golf game – he’d qualified for the Canadian Junior Boys Championship that summer. Lamb, in fact, turned down an invitation to rookie camp with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants because he knew his commitment level wasn’t high enough. But he eventually decided to give it a go with the Junior B Pilots, and after cracking the roster as the 13th forward out of training camp, he went

John Morrow photo

on to lead the league in scoring. Both of the last two years, Lamb again contemplated hockey retirement – he’s been dealing with shoulder and sports hernia injuries, and also plans to get into real estate with his dad at some point. But the game keeps drawing him back. “I do love the game, and after this year, I’ll definitely miss it,” he said. “We’ve got a great group of guys this year, and I’m ready to win a championship.”

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ABBOTSFORD NEWS

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

faceoff It’s ALL HAPPENING O F F I C I A L

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Abbotsford Heat Face Off Oct 11 2011