Flames forward Roman Horak skates in a game against the Avalanche at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 26, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - The stats tell the story -- Roman Horak has four goals in as many games for the AHL's Abbotsford Heat so far this season.
Just don't bother searching for additional evidence on YouTube.
According to the 21-year-old centre, you won't find any.
"Everyone who saw those four goals, they saw that they were kind of lucky," Horak admitted.
Significant? You bet.
Thanks to his attention to defensive details and an ability to think the game beyond his years, Horak cracked the Flames roster last fall.
Deployed mostly as a fourth-line centre, he managed just three goals -- the first one is immortalized on YouTube (below) -- and eight assists in 61 regular-season games. In 22 appearances with Abbotsford, including eight playoff dates, he scored twice and had five helpers.
That's a total of five tallies in 83 professional outings in 2011-12, a snail's pace that makes his current clip especially impressive.
Horak scored the game-winner in a season-opening triumph over the Peoria Rivermen and then snuck a second puck past St. Louis Blues' goalie-of-the-future Jake Allen the following night.
Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Wolves required overtime after Horak scored the equalizer on the powerplay and he added another man-advantage marker in Saturday's 4-1 win, beating soon-to-be Vancouver Canucks backup Eddie Lack to extend his scoring streak to four straight games.
"Every goal, whether it's nice or it's just a rebound or whatever, gives you more confidence and you're trying more things offensively after that," Horak said. "I'm just trying to do the same things, go to the net hard and and make some plays still that I've been trying at home my whole life. Now, I can score some goals, too, which is great."
Question is, can he take his show on the road?
After posting three wins and a shootout loss at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre, Horak and his Heat teammates leave for a hat-trick of games in as many days this weekend, starting with two tilts against the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche) and a Sunday matinee with the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens).
"The biggest thing I've seen from (Horak) is consistency, and that's what I didn't see last year," said second-year Heat head coach Troy Ward. "We forget that fatigue is more mental than it is physical for a lot of young players. I think last year, he was just a tired guy mentally when he got here. This year, I see him fresh. I see him consistent. I see him much harder around the puck.
"I think he's embracing where he is and he's trying to tell everybody, 'I'm here but last year wasn't a fluke and I want to go back up. (Calgary) is where I want to play.'
"So I think he's got a bit of method to madness to him."
Four goals in four games is a good way to ensure the suits at the Saddledome take notice.
The Flames organization isn't exactly stacked with scoring centres, and Horak doesn't want to be stereotyped as a fourth-liner so early in his professional career,
"I'm still going to keep working hard and become one of those actual goal-scorers who can score every game and put up a lot of points," Horak said. "With the way the NHL has been going, this is a great opportunity for me to show the people in the organization -- Jay Feaster and all those guys -- how I can do down here. It can only help me."
FLAMES PROSPECTS THREE STARS
1. LW, Johnny Gaudreau
The skilled sophomore had a pair of two-point efforts, including an overtime winner against UMass, as the Boston College Eagles returned to the top of the NCAA hockey polls. The 5-foot-6 forward was named Hockey East's player of the week.
2. C, Ben Walter
The 28-year-old pivot, who is being flanked by Sven Baertschi and Dustin Sylvester on Abbotsford's top forward unit, has racked up a team-high seven points in four outings.
3. D, Pat Sieloff
His stat sheet shows only one assist in three games with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires last week, but you've gotta check out his hit on Erie Otters forward Hayden Hodgson, the first play in the clip below.
Gritty winger Lance Bouma, who skated in 27 contests for the Flames last season and leads by example in Abbotsford, suffered a lower-body injury during Friday's shootout loss to the Chicago Wolves and is awaiting the results of an MRI. He won't go on the road with his teammates this weekend.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"When someone takes a liberty, you want to let him know that's not alright, especially in our building. Unfortunately, he kind of let me know a little bit more, but it was a good fight."
-- Heat winger Carter Bancks, all 5-foot-11 of him, comments on his swollen left eye after Saturday's scrap with Chicago Wolves forward Alex Mallet