Let’s kick off the week in hockey with a quick shout-out to Matt Stajan and his wife, Katie. They’re obviously going through a rough time and our thoughts and well-wishes go out to them.
The hockey world meanwhile, keeps a-turnin’. NCAA conference playoffs are underway. Junior playoffs loom. And everything else chugs along
On Monday, the Flames travelled to St. Paul and dropped a tight 3-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild after a comeback effort fell short. Reto Berra made 24 saves, while Mike Cammalleri and Mark Giordano scored. [Post-Game]
Wednesday was a busy day: the Flames sent Reto Berra to Colorado for a second rounder, and Lee Stempniak to Pittsburgh for a third rounder. Then they played a heckuva game against a tired Ottawa Senators club, winning 4-1 on goals from Markus Granlund, Paul Byron, Joe Colborne and Cammalleri, while Joni Ortio got his first NHL win. [Post-Game]
On Friday, the Flames beat the New York Islanders by a 4-3 score with a huge comeback effort. Joni Ortio got the win powered by goals from Markus Granlund, Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne (twice). [Post-Game]
And on Saturday, the Flames just seemed to run out of gas, losing 2-1 on the road in Vancouver. Joni Ortio got the loss and Brian McGrattan scored from the neutral zone. The team got caught by a bad second period and a hot period from Eddie Lack in the third that sunk them, really. [Post-Game]
ALL ABOUT ABBOTSFORD
The Abbotsford Heat have lost 8 games in a row, which isn’t good. They lost all four games this week – 3-1 and 4-3 to Texas and 7-2 and 4-1 to Chicago. But you can at least say they’re fulfilling their “primary” development goal, which is putting players into the NHL. On the other than, their roster is getting really thin.
Already without Michael Ferland, Patrick Sieloff, Markus Granlund, Joni Ortio and Paul Byron, many of whom won’t be back this season, they also lost another five regulars to Calgary this week. Those regulars are Max Reinhart, Corban Knight, Joey MacDonald, Ben Hanowski and Tyler Wotherspoon. Oh, and Sven Baertschi and Turner Elson missed time with injuries this weekend, too. It’s a rough time in the Fraser Valley, but at least they got Derek Smith back and have a fairly decent AHL defense group.
For those who’re worried ’bout playoffs, get less worried. The Heat are the 5th seed in the West with a 33-21-5-2 record, nine points up on 9th-place Oklahoma City. It’s possible for them to fall further, but the Flames will be getting healthier soon, and it’s hard to imagine this losing skid going on for too much longer.
In the ECAC, Yale (Kenny Agostino) swept Harvard in two games. They’ll advance to the quarterfinals and play Quinnipiac this weekend. Colgate (Tim Harrison) had a bye, and they’ll play St. Lawrence. Harrison’s had a quietly effective year with 5 points in 31 games as a freshman.
In Hockey East, Boston College and Providence College each had byes. BC plays Notre Dame next week, while PC plays Maine. Over in Big Ten, Matt Deblouw earned his third point of the year as Michigan State split a meaningless series with Michigan. They open their playoff tournament at the end of the month.
In the Dub, all but one Flames prospect has clinched a playoff spot. Regina (Morgan Klimchuk), Swift Current (Coda Gordon), Victoria (Keegan Kanzig) and Vancouver (Brett Kulak) have all clinched. Brandon (Eric Roy) is in a three-way tie for the last two spots in the Dub’s Eastern Conference with Prince Albert and Red Deer. All the teams have three or four games left, so the seeds and match-ups are all in flux.
In the Q, Drummondville (Ryan Culkin) ad Gatineau (Emile Poirier) have both clinched, but the seedings are, at present, as clear as mud.
SUM IT UP
The year’s most important hockey, the playoffs, are about to begin. Well, in the development leagues, at least.