Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to hockey season.
The Abbotsford Heat are first up for the Admirals — a team that they beat only once in four tries last season. They’re also a team with 2 points in the standings already, after defeating the Grand Rapids Griffins in a shootout on Friday night.
The Heat is a young team — 8 of the 24 players on the roster were playing for their junior team last season. And for four others, this is their second year.
That’s not to say that there won’t be some familiar names on their roster this year. Both goalies currently on the roster played with the Heat last season — Leland Irving and Matt Keetley. Cam Cunning and Chris Chucko are back, as is JD Watt, who was 5th in the league last year in penalty minutes. Perhaps Watt and Kelsey Wilson will re-aquaint themselves.
But the Heat will also be boasting two of the top four prospects of the Calgary Flames system this year, according to Hockey Futures — forward Greg Nemisz and center Mitch Wahl. The latter made an immediate impact when he joined the Heat at the end of his junior season at the end of last year. In four regular season games he had four points, and tallied six points in 12 playoff games. He netted the game winning goal in the only game Abbotsford won in their playoff series against Hamilton. And rookie center Brian Cameron lead the OHL in scoring last season. Those are three guys to keep an eye on Saturday night.
As for the Admirals, they named their captain this week (thanks to CreedFeed for breaking the news after the season ticket holder event on Thursday), and it’s the former captain of the Abbotsford Heat, defenseman Brett Palin. Fellow defensemen Scott Ford and Aaron Johnson are set to wear the “A” to start out. While I’m sure a lot of fans were cheering for Ford to get the nod since he has had the seniority, Palin will be perfect for the job. He’s done it before, he’ll be a great leader on and off the ice, and he’ll set a great example for some of the young talent on the team.
And finally, Aaron Sims had linked to this video on his blog, but it’s timely, so I’ll do it here too. Here’s the youtube clip of Abbotsford head coach Jim Playfair losing his mind. See you at the BC!