There is one team in the AHL not like the others—the Abbotsford Heat.
Located just over an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, British Colombia, Abbotsford is most geographically isolated city in the AHL. The nearest league city to the Heat is Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is located three Canadian provinces further east, or over a day’s drive by bus. (Check out the Map of all the AHL team locations here)
Therefore when teams travel to Abbotsford, it is often for a two-game stint in order to reduce travel expenses. This weekend Milwaukee has unenviable task of making the western trek.
But what makes this year’s trip even more peculiar is that it represents the final meetings between Milwaukee and Abbotsford this season.
“There’s parts of our schedule I don’t like, and parts I like, and it’s going to be that way every year,” Admirals coach Lane Lambert said. “It’s bizarre that we play the same team four times in the first month of the season and then we don’t see them again.”
So far the Admirals have burned the Heat, winning both of their home games by a combined 9-3 count. Milwaukee has counted for half of Abbotsford’s losses so far this season.
“Obviously we’ll be very familiar with each other by the time the final buzzer goes next Saturday,” Lambert said.
Speaking of familiar, one player on the Heat Admirals fans should recognize is former Wisconsin Badgers defenseman Joe Piskula.
After playing five games in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings in 2006-2007, Piskula’s career stagnated with the Manchester Monarchs. The Antigo, Wisconsin native is hoping a change of scenery to the Canadian Northwest may reinvigorate his once promising career.
So what do think Roundtable? Should the AHL balance the schedule out more? Or does the league’s special case of Abbotsford make the scheduling quirk ok?