By Mike Cadarette
It could be comfort of their own bed, the familiarity of their own dressing room or the company of their family, but the Heat couldn’t be happier to play at home and their record is evidence of that. This season the Heat are top-5 in the league at home (19-9-2-1), but have struggled with a road record of 8-13-1-4.
It’s been a strange shift for the Heat since last season. In the 2011-12 campaign, the Heat showed almost opposite results – they were nearly unbeatable on the road (24-11-0-3), but were rather average in the AESC (18-15-3-2).
“Last year we talked about not being aggressive enough at home,” explained Heat captain Quintin Laing. “Last year we found that we were a little too cute in trying make plays instead of going out there and playing simple, taking the body, and not really fighting all the time, but it just seemed like we had more majors on the road last year compared to at home. So, this year we’ve tried to come out and be a little more physical to start and I think that’s helped us get some wins.”
For Laing, the biggest reason for the odd switch in home and away records comes down to physicality and being tougher to play against. With the addition of Blair Jones, Akim Aliu, Mike Testwuide and Nick Tuzzolino, the Heat have certainly gotten bigger and Laing likes the new composition of the team.
“I feel we play better when we’re more physical. It creates momentum. You need guys that can bring something. You don’t want guys that are ‘in-betweeners’. You want guys who can either score, finish, make plays or you want guys that can grind it out, play physical, play aggressive and compete. Looking at us now, I think we’ve got a good mix of that. It’s is a big home stand with this new group, so we feel like we’ve got some new life and some big bodies and it should create a lot of energy on the ice for us.”