Friends, we’re at the tail-end of March. Tomorrow’s April, which means that the hockey season is winding down (boo) but the NHL playoffs will soon be here (yay).
Here’s a quick glance at Flames-related news to tide you over until then.
Abbotsford had a tough three games in three days schedule this week; they beat Utica on Friday and Saturday, but lost on Sportsnet 360 to the dastardly Toronto Marlies (the Flames will try to avenge that loss tomorrow night at the ACC). Ben Street had six points this week (at worst, he’s a very good AHLer), Max Reinhart had four points, Sven Baertschi had three points (as did Brett Olson, who needs to get an NHL deal, in my view). Joni Ortio played all three games and did give up nine goals (for a 3.00 GAA), but also won two games and did his best to keep things close.
With 7 games left, the Heat need just 8 points to clinch a playoff spot. They get the Rockford Ice Hogs (shoutout to Adam and Amanda Summers!) on Friday and Saturday in Abbotsford. Morgan Klimchuk and Brett Kulak will be reporting to the Heat this week and might play. The team has also added Quinnipiac D Zach Tolkinen and overage WHL forward Collin Valcourt of the Prince Albert Raiders.
In related news, the Alaska Aces clinched their division.
Big test for Emile Poirier’s Gatineau Olympique coming up. After dispatching of Cape Breton in short order, they’ll get Nova Scotia’s powerhouse in the second round – the defending Memorial Cup champion Halifax Mooseheads. This should be a fantastic series, featuring Poirier trying to out-do Nikolaj Ehlers and Jonathan Drouin.
Ryan Culkin’s Drummondville Voltigeurs draw the Val-d’Or Foreurs, featuring Anthony Mantha. Both series should start up later this week.
In the Dub, many teams (including our beloved Calgary Hitmen) are out; among them include Flames prospects Coda Gordon (Swift Current), Morgan Klimchuk (Regina) and Brett Kulak (Vancouver). But two 2013 picks survived, only to draw WHL powerhouses in the second round.
Eric Roy’s Brandon Wheat Kings face the Edmonton Oil Kings in a series predicted by that wacky Husky WHL commercial. Keegan Kanzig’s Victoria Royals face the Portland Winterhawks. Both should be fun series, though the Victoria/Portland one may last awhile and greatly resemble a war.
Boston College beat Denver and U-Mass Lowell to advance to the Frozen Four, April 10 and 12 in Philadelphia. They’ll face Union on April 10 at 3pm MT in the first semi (Minnesota and North Dakota are in the other one). Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold were quite good this week and totally deserve a shot to finish out their college careers taking a run at a second NCAA Title. I imagine we’ll see them both here for camp in the fall.
Providence College blanked Quinnipiac 4-0 (sending Bryce van Brabant packing to Calgary) but lost 3-1 to Union, denying us a shot at an all-Flames prospect national semi-final game. Mark Jankowski and John Gilmour are likely heading back next year for their junior year, while some doubt was cast on the fate of star goalie Jon Gillies when he declined comment when asked about his status for next year. Granted, he may have been cranky about losing the game, so take that with an appropriate amount of salt.
As expected, Colgate (Tim Harrison) lost to Ferris State. The game was close, though, and it’s probably great experience for everyone involved in that program.