April 15 2010 12:01AM
The 1st year Abbotsford Heat will begin their quest for the Calder Cup tonight as they visit the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester to take on the Americans. So since our beloved Flames failed to make the playoffs in the big show, we decided to turn our attention to the farm... Welcome to HeatNation.
The Heat completed their inaugural season with a 39-29-5-7 record (90 pts), good for 3rd place in the North Division. The Heat got hot during a 9 game road trip in mid-February (coinciding with the 2010 Winter Olympics) going 8-1 on the roadie, placing them smack-dab in the middle of a battle with the Rochester Americans and the (defending North Division Champion) Manitoba Moose down the stretch. The last time the Calgary Flames affiliate qualified for the post season was in 2006-07 as the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. The Knights were the conference champions in the regular season that year, but were upset in 6 games by the Iowa Stars in the 1st round of the playoffs.
Meet The Heat
The Flames returned forwards Mikael Backlund (23-1-9-10) and Brett Sutter (10-0-0-0) to Abbotsford at the end of the season. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Backlund has after spending a good portion of the 2nd half up with the Flames. He really made some big strides this season, and it would be nice to see that continue. C'mon Mickis, put that team on your shoulders. After Backlund, Matt Pelech seems to be the Flames prospect that is most NHL-ready. A strong playoff performance could go a long way toward his development. I expect (hope) to see him in Calgary full-time next season. After a really good season in Spokane (WHL), Mitch Wahl suited up for 4 AHL games. Can he make an impact already? It looks as though David Shantz will start in goal, although Coach Jim Playfair was quick to point out that he wouldn't hesitate to turn to Leland Irving.
Key FLAMES prospects on the Heat (with Hockey's Future prospect rankings in brackets):
F Mikael Backlund (1)
D John Negrin (4)
F Mitch Wahl (7)
D Matt Pelech (8)
G Leland Irving (9)
D Keith Seabrook (11)
F Kris Chucko (12)
F Brett Sutter (14)
D Gord Baldwin (15)
F J.D. Watt (18)
Other key contributors: F- Jason Jaffray (inj), David Van der Gulik, Colin Stuart, Garth Murray, Cam Cunning, Carsen Germyn (inj); D- Staffan Kronwall, Andy Delmore (inj); G David Shantz.
And of course...
...Coach Jim Playfair.
- The Rochester Americans (44-33-2-1) are the Florida Panthers affiliate in their 54th season of operation in the American Hockey League. This is the 3rd season in which the Panthers are operating the franchise in Rochester, with this season being the 1st time since 2006-07 that the Panthers affiliate has made the playoffs.
- Panthers prospects on the roster include D Keaton Ellerby (3), F Michael Repik (4), G Alexander Salak (5), F Shawn Matthias (6), D Jason Garrison (9) F Evgeny Dadonov (10), as well as fringe NHLers Steve MacIntyre, Mathieu Roy, Mike York, Rory Fitzpatrick & Jeff Taffe.
- Rochester has appeared in the Calder Cup Playoffs a total of 41 times in their 54 seasons, and have won the Calder Cup 6 times, while losing in the finals on 10 other occasions.
- The Amerks last won the Calder Cup in 1996, winning in seven games over the Portland Pirates.
- The Amerks have been a part of the AHL longer than anyone except the Hershey Bears, who have been in the AHL since 1938.
- The Heat hold a 3-1 edge over the Americans this season.
- The Amerks posted a 23-14-2-2 record at home, while going 21-19 on the road.
- The Heat were 18-14-4-4 at home & 21-15-1-3 on the road.
The playoff format will be 2-3-2.
North Division Semi-Final:
Game 1 - Thursday, April 15 in Rochester 5:05 PM (MT)
Game 2 - Saturday, April 17 in Rochester 5:05 (MT)
Game 3 - Monday, April 19 @ The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre - 8 PM (MT)
Game 4 - Wednesday, April 21 @ The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre - 8 PM (MT)
*Game 5 - Friday, April 23 @ The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre - 8 PM (MT)
*Game 6 - Sunday, April 25 in Rochester 3:05 (MT)
*Game 7 - Tuesday, April 27 in Rochester 5:05 (MT)