Another weekend brings another big chunk of hockey to keep track of. Here’s the Flames-related stuff through the next few days.
ABBOTSFORD PLAYS THREE
After four games at home, the Abbotsford Heat (3-0-1-0) hit the road for three back-to-back-to-back games. On Friday and Saturday, they tangle with the Colorado Avalanche’s farm team, the Lake Erie Monsters (4-2-0-0). The Monsters are led in scoring by defenseman Thomas Pock (7 points), centre Mark Oliver (6 points) and are back-stopped by AHL rookie Calvin Pickard, formerly of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Former Flame David van der Gulik is also a Monster. Both games are at 5:30pm MT.
On Sunday, they visit the Montreal Canadiens’ affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs (2-2-0-0). The Baby Habs boast the likes of Aaron Palushaj and Flames draft pick Patrick Holland (sent to Montreal in the Cammalleri trade), who both have three points to lead the team. 23-year-old Czech product Robert Mayer is the main netminder for Hamilton, but his AHL numbers aren’t all that hot, to be honest. Game-time on Sunday is 3pm MT.
It should be a good test for the Heat, particularly given that they will be taken extremely out of their comfort zone. Then again, a pair of games against Chicago at home can feel like a road game, so they may be used to having the crowd against them.
Having avenged their single loss since before the Super Bowl, the Boston College Eagles (home of reigning Hockey East player of the week Johnny Gaudreau and also Bill Arnold) take on the U-Mass Lowell River Hawks on Friday and Sunday in Lowell. The River Hawks were pretty good last year, but finished well behind Boston College in the standings. The River Hawks have three NHL picks on their team, one of which is their back-up goalie. The Eagles have seven.
Mark Jankowski, Jon Gillies and the Providence College Friars face the Maine Black Bears on Friday and Saturday in Providence. Maine was ahead of Providence in the standings last year, so it’ll be a good test to see if Jankowski and Gillies can put their early season lessons to good use. It’ll also be a return to conference play for the Friars, who were spanked by Boston University in their only conference game to date.
Both Ryan Culkin (Quebec) and Patrick Sieloff (Windsor) will be playing games Thursday, Friday and Sunday this weekend, health-permitting. The Remparts host the Baie-Comeau Drakkar on Thursday, the Memorial Cup champion Shawinigan Cataractes on Friday and the Gatineau Olympique on Sunday. (Yes, Quebec teams have the best names.) Sieloff’s Windsor Spitfires visit the Sarnia Sting on Thursday, the Guelph Storm on Friday and the Owen Sound Attack on Sunday.
Oddly, the Portland Winterhawks and Tyler Wotherspoon play just once, hosting Tri-City on Sunday. All other Flames WHL prospects play twice. Coda Gordon’s Swift Current Broncos face Kootenay and Lethbridge back-to-back. Turner Elson’s Red Deer Rebels play Kelowna and Calgary.
Meanwhile, Brett Kulak’s Vancouver Giants play Victoria on Friday, Laurent Brossoit’s Edmonton Oil Kings play Kelowna on Saturday, and then the Giants and Oil Kings tangle on Sunday in a Flame versus Flame encounter. Unless, of course, Edmonton’s back-up starts the game instead.
It was also announced this week that Culkin, Wotherspoon and Brossoit will represent Team QMJHL (Culkin) and Team WHL (the other guys) in the annual Subway Super Series against the hated Team Russia, which has no Flames prospects on it and therefore is the enemy.
HIFK Helinski plays three games in three nights. Luckily for the club, they play the easier teams first. They will face Assat on Friday and HPK on Saturday, with both clubs being in the same basic clump of teams in the SM-Liiga standings as they are. Expect Joni Ortio to continue to get a lot of starts. On Sunday, HIFK faces a stiff test against JYP, the first-place team.
Avangard Omsk travels north from the friendly confines of Omsk Oblast to the oil town of Khanty-Mansiysk to face HC Yugra on Saturday night. Avangard won again this week and boasts a 7-6-6-2 record for 34 points. Yugra is not quite as good, having only 23 points and sitting well below Avangard in the standings.