As American Thanksgiving looms upon us mere Canadians – and with it, the opportunity for big, big savings on Black Friday – hockey continues to chug along. Every single Flames prospect was in action this weekend. Here’s how they’re looking in mid-to-late November.
PROS ON THE ROAD
Strangely, this weekend found both Flames’ affiliates – the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat and the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies – beginning road-trips.
Abbotsford kicked off a five-game sojourn with stops in Rochester, New York and Toronto, Ontario. The Heat beat the Americans 3-2 in a back-and-forth affair. Quintin Laing, Sven Baertschi and Paul Byron scored, with Byron getting the game-winner. Leland Irving made 36 saves for the win. All-in-all, a good effort.
Sunday was not quite as good an effort. The Heat lost 5-0 to the Marlies. Both teams put 24 pucks on the opposite net. Ben Scrivens gave up zero goals, while Leland Irving gave up five. Roman Horak, Ben Walter and Sven Baertschi – the Heat’s best line – were a combined minus-9 (or minus-3 apiece).
In the ECHL, the Grizzlies went 1-1-1 over their three-games-in-three-nights trip. Bryan Cameron had five points over the three games and leads Utah with 17 points in 14 games. Mitch Wahl continued his point-per-game pace with four points in the two games he played (he wasn’t dressed on Friday). Both continue to be the most consistent Flames properties in Utah.
Down in junior, some players continued to win. Others did not. These are their stories.
The Quebec Remparts are a very good team and Ryan Culkin is a good player on that team. The Remparts won both their games this weekend and Culkin had two assists and was plus-2. Portland is also really good and split their games this weekend. Tyler Wotherspoon had two assists and a plus-2 rating. Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit made 18 saves in an overtime loss, his first game after a pair of Subway Super Series starts.
The Windsor Spitfires used to be amazing and now they’re less so. Young Patrick Sieloff had an assist and an even rating, but the Spitfres lost both of their games. The WHL’s Vancouver Giants are, to be blunt, much worse than Windsor and Brett Kulak may be their best blueliner. The Giants won one of their three weekend games. Kulak was minus-2, but also had three points.
The Red Deer Rebels are a .500ish hockey club that just fired their old coach and brought back in their owner/GM Brent Sutter. Captain Turner Elson, a Flame signee, had a goal and an assist as the new/old/new Rebels won both their weekend games. Swift Current also wobbles around that .500 mark. They lost both of their games this weekend and Coda Gordon was minus-2 with zero points.
Boston College won a game! Bill Arnold had an assist on the game-tying goal, and Johnny Gaudreau pushed his scoring pace to 14 points in 10 games with a pair of assists (including setting up the game-winner). To paraphrase the great Peter Loubrardias, that Gaudreau is some kinda player.
Providence College won their hockey game, as well. Mark Jankowski exploded for three points giving him seven in 10. Jon Gillies made 22 saves for his fifth win of the year. Gillies continues to be great, while Jankowski appears to be making progress.
Matthew Deblouw is sixth in his conference in scoring after an assist this weekend. He also is great at face-offs this year and is frequently called on to take important draws in the defensive zone. He is doing quite well for a middling Michigan State team, particularly as a freshman.
Roman Cervenka moved to the KHL (and to an arena a few blocks from his old team’s arena) recently! He had zero points this weekend and wasn’t great at face-offs, and his club (HC Lev Praha) lost both of their games. Karri Ramo’s Avangard Omsk club lost 4-3 in a shootout on Friday against the awesomely-named Traktor Chelyabinsk. His back-up started on Sunday and got a shut-out.
In SM-Liiga, HIFK Helinski split their weekend games. Markus Granlund had an assist on Thursday as the club lost 3-2 to Jokerit, but Joni Ortio shut out TPS Turku on Saturday. Ortio continues to be excellent on a team that is decent but not amazing, which may actually qualify him for a job with the Flames. (Or not.)
Oh yeah, and Mikael Backlund continues to be dominant for VIK Vasteras, potting a goal and an assist in the club’s 5-1 win over the weekend. That gives him 21 points in just 13 games so far.