pic via Jenn Kuhn
The playoffs may be an uncertainty for the Calgary Flames, but quite a few of their prospects in major junior and college are in the midst of post-season pushes. Or, in the case of the Abbotsford Heat, they’re trying to qualify.
The Heat have had a so-so season after an excellent start. They’re presently 31-29-4-6, with 72 points, placing them two points out of the final playoff spot in the AHL’s Western Conference. The trouble is that they’ve played more games than anybody else in their conference. Case in point: the Oklahoma City Barons, who the Heat are chasing for the eighth and final seed, have five games in hand on Abbotsford. Uh-oh.
Despite the recent resurgence of Sven Baertschi, Max Reinhart and Brett Carson, the Heat are all-but-mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with six games left in the season.
The ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies have clinched the seventh seed in their conference and will play the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ affiliate, in the first round.
The first round is complete for most of Calgary’s junior prospects. Most of them are doing well.
Laurent Brossoit had a great first round for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He won four of five games, shutting out Kootenay twice, posting a 0.76 goals against average and a .968 save percentage. Edmonton faces Medicine Hat next round. Red Deer Rebels captain Turner Elson had seven points in the first round. His team will face the Hitmen next.
Tyler Wotherspoon has four points for the Portland Winterhawks, who are leading Everett so far and could have advanced by the time you read this. Wotherspoon signed a contract with the Flames this week and will probably turn pro next year. Calgary’s lone QMJHL prospect, Ryan Culkin, had five points in the opening round as the Quebec Remparts beat Chicoutimi. They’ll likely face Rouyn-Noranda in round 2.
Michael Ferland had zero points and the Saskatoon Blades got knocked out of the playoffs. But don’t worry, they’ll be back at the end of May to host the Memorial Cup. Not so lucky are Coda Gordon’s Swift Current Broncos, dispatched by the Hitmen. Gordon had four points.
The new guys are doing well. Ben Haworski and St. Cloud State beat Notre Dame and Miami to advance to the Frozen Four. Kenny Agostino’s Yale team did just as well, punching their ticket to the NCAA semi-finals with wins over Minnesota and North Dakota.
Not so lucky were Boston College and Wisconsin. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal for his 51st point of the year (in just 35 games) but the Eagles lost 5-1 to Union College. Meanwhile, John Ramage finished his college career with a disappointing 6-1 beat-down at the hands of U-Mass Lowell. The Flames have until August 15 to sign Ramage, otherwise they lose his rights and he becomes a free agent.