The month of November ends this weekend, bringing with it a harsh slap in the face, as we all collectively realize that we’ve missed the entirety of the first two months of the NHL season.
While the rich players and owners fight like little kids, the Flames prospects – closer to little kids than the pro players, age-wise – continue to play hockey like they’re supposed to. While we’re not sure if any of the Calgary farm-hands believe in Santa Claus, both them and us are secretly hoping somebody – magical or otherwise – brings us NHL hockey for Christmas, Hanukkah or any other wonderful wintertime holiday.
Fresh off a successful five-game road trip, the Heat return home this weekend to kick off a four-game homestand. They host the Hamilton Bulldogs, the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, on Friday and Saturday from the Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre. The Heat visited the Bulldogs at the end of October, losing 2-1 in regulation.
Sven Baertschi and Roman Horak haven’t scored as much as they did earlier in the season, but guys like Brett Olson and Ben Street have gotten hot. Depth is nice, isn’t it?
Down in Utah, Calgary’s ECHL farm team hosts the expansion San Francisco Bulls on Friday and Saturday. Bryan Cameron and Mitch Wahl continue to have respectable ECHL numbers, while defender James Martin seems to be doing just fine as well.
As usual, there’s a whole lot going on in the Canadian Hockey League.
Ryan Culkin and the Quebec Remparts host the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Friday and visit the Baie-Comeau Drakkar on Sunday. Culkin has 18 assists this year.
The Windsor Spitfires (and Patrick Sieloff) play three games in four nights, hosting the Barrie Colts on Thursday, visiting the Kitchener Rangers on Friday and then going home to host the Ottawa 67s on Sunday. Luckily for them 67’s phenom Sean Monahan is suspended.
In the Dub, Laurent Brossoit looks to bolster his resume for Team Canada as he faces Kootenay on Friday and Lethbridge on Sunday. I’d expect back-up Tristan Jarry to start one of these games, but the Oil Kings remain just behind the Hitmen for first in their division and probably want to make up some ground.
Fresh off receiving a series of sanctions from the WHL, the Portland Winterhawks tangle with the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday and the Everett Silvertips on Saturday. Tyler Wotherspoon remains the WHL’s leader in plus/minus, for what that’s worth.
On a roll with Brent Sutter back behind the bench, the Red Deer Rebels have won five straight since his return. They’ll try to keep that going against the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday and the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday. The Tigers may have Calgary-born scoring sensation Hunter Shinkaruk back in their line-up this weekend, so the Rebels may have a big challenge on their hands. Friday night’s clash will be on Shaw TV, though.
Coda Gordon and Swift Current will play Spokane on Friday and the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday. Meanwhile, Vancouver and Brett Kulak hope to turn things around this weekend as they face Everett on Friday and Tri-City on Saturday.
One week before Boston College and Providence College collide in epic college action, the two teams prepare with weekend sets against other rivals. The 10-1-0 Boston College tries to continue their winning ways against Boston University on Friday and Saturday. Johnny Gaudreau has scored at least a point in every single game this year, by the way, while Bill Arnold has scored in about half of them.
Providence College plays a home-and-home on Friday and Saturday against Merrimack. The Friars are just over .500 on the year, while Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies look to maintain their consistency. Both have been good this year.
Elsewhere: John Ramage and Wisconsin face Denver on Friday and Saturday, Nick Larson’s Notre Dame club faces Lake Superior State on Friday and Saturday, and Matthew Deblouw looks to continue his superb freshman campaign with Michigan State as they face Ohio State on Friday and Saturday.
Avangard Omsk plays HC Barys, the lone KHL team from Kazakhstan, on Friday. The Leopards are scrambling to stay in the last Eastern playoff spot, while Avangard leads their division. Karri Ramo should likely start.
HIFK Helsinki plays JYP on Friday night and the Blues on Saturday. Joni Ortio continues to be one of the better (if not the best) guys on HIFK, while Markus Granlund only played a few minutes in Tuesday’s HIFK loss. No word on why that was, though. In the KHL Roman Cervenka has two points in 5 games with Lev Praha, although word is now he’s sitting out with a minor injury for the next few games.
Chris Butler is in Sweden and should be joining his new club, Karlskrona, as soon as Visa stuff gets worked out. Karlskrona plays on Thursday night (against Djurgardens IF) and then on Sunday against Mikael Backlund’s VIK Vasteras. Butler will reportedly be practicing with his team but still needs clearance to play. Backlund will be playing for Vasteras either way, though.