It’s a busy weekend ahead for basically all non-NHL levels of professional and amateur hockey. The World Junior selection camps loom on the horizon and we’re getting down to the meat of the professional schedule, so a lot of players have things to prove.
HOT HEAT HIT THE ROAD
Fresh off a pair of wins over the Lake Erie Monsters, the AHL’s best team – the Flames’ affiliate in Abbotsford – goes on the road for a pair of games.
On Friday night, the Heat are in Rochester to take on the Americans, the Buffalo Sabres’ affiliate. Forward Marcus Foligno leads Rochester’s offense with 15 points, while goaltender David Leggio has played all but one game for the Americans, amassing a 8-4-0 record in a dozen starts.
On Sunday night, the Heat face the Toronto Marlies in the Centre of the Universe. Keith Aucoin continues to lead the Baby Leafs in scoring with 12 points in 12 games, while Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas continue to split time in net. Scrivens has played more, but Rynnas has better numbers.
Barry Brust is a period away from the AHL record for not allowing goals in consecutive minutes, set by the great Johnny Bower. In four games, he has three shutouts. Danny Taylor also boasts quite a solid record, and the Heat have only lost once in regulation this season. Sven Baertschi and Roman Horak were mostly held off the score-sheet this week, but the team still won. Weird, eh? Depth is wacky.
The ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies play three games in three nights this weekend. They visit Stockton on Friday and make their first visit to the Bay Area to play the San Francisco Bulls on Saturday and Sunday.
Ryan Culkin’s Quebec Remparts face the defending Memorial Cup champions from Shawinigan on Friday and then battle the Victoriaville Tigres on Sunday. Patrick Sieloff’s Windsor Spitfires play Barrie on Saturday and Owen Sound on Sunday.
In the Dub, there’s a lot of hockey going on. Edmonton hosts Prince Albert on Saturday. I’d expect back-up Tristan Jarry to start, as Laurent Brossoit should be tired from being so awesome on Wednesday night against Russia for Team WHL. Tyler Wotherspoon’s Portland Winterhawks visit Kamloops on Friday and then goes home to host Medicine Hat on Saturday. Wotherspoon also plays for Team WHL on Thursday, so he may miss a game to avoid playing three in three.
Red Deer begins a new/old era with their new/old coach Brent Sutter at the helm (and minus their leading scorer) this weekend. They host Swift Current on Saturday and Prince Albert on Sunday. Expect a lot of weight to be on the shoulders of Flames prospect/Rebels captain Turner Elson this week. After visiting the Rebels on Saturday, Coda Gordon’s Swift Current Broncos come to Calgary on Sunday afternoon.
And finally, Brett Kulak and the Vancouver Giants play three games in three nights. They host Regina on Friday, visit Everett on Saturday and return home to face Saskatoon on Sunday. It could get messy.
It’s almost exam time (and Thanksgiving time) for our Ameircan college prospects, so the schedule will thin out pretty soon. For some teams, it already has.
Boston College, home of Bill Arnold and Hockey East player of the week Johnny Gaudreau, faces Merrimack on Friday. Merrimack is sub-.500, so the Eagles could run all over them. Providence College, where Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies play, tangle with a similarly-placed team as they put their .500 record up against the .500 record of Northeastern on Friday night.
Elsewhere, Michigan State (Matthew Deblouw) face the highly-touted Miami (of Ohio) on Friday and Saturday, Notre Dame (Nick Larson) faces Michigan on Thursday and Friday, and lowly Wisconsin (John Ramage) puts their 1-4-1 record up against the juggernaut Minnesota club (6-2-1) on Friday and Saturday.
The KHL has returned from its break and another Flame property has made the jump over there!
Avangard Omsk (Karri Ramo) plays Traktor Chelyabinsk on Friday night and Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg on Sunday. Meanwhile, HC Lev Praha (home of newly-acquired Roman Cervenka) plays Yaroslavl Lokomotiv on Friday and Atlant Moscow on Sunday. Anton Babchuk and HC Donbass Donesk tangle with Salavat Yulaev on Friday and Ak Bars Kazan on Sunday.
In Finland, HIFK Helsinki continues its quest for the playoffs on Thursday against Jokerit and on Saturday against Joni Ortio’s old team, TPS Turku. Maybe it’s because they don’t have his stellar goaltending on the club, but Turku is a ways down the standings.
Meanwhile, in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan, Mikael Backlund and VIK Vasteras face BIK Karlskoga on Saturday.