AHL has another affiliate moving to Canada

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Another American Hockey League team is changing locations.

The AHL’s board of governors approved the relocation of the Stockton Heat – the Calgary Flames’ affiliate – allowing the team to move its home location from California to Calgary for the 2022-23 season. The move was officially announced Monday. 

The league said “details related to the transfer are in progress and the AHL and the Flames will provide more information when finalized.”

The Heat have been the Flames’ affiliate since the 2015-16 season, when the club relocated from Glens Falls in the Albany area – where the team played one season as the Adirondack Flames – to Stockton, California. 

Notably, the franchise history also includes the Utica Devils, which played in the Mohawk Valley from 1987 to 1993 as New Jersey's AHL affiliate. New Jersey and Utica re-united as affiliates for the 2021-22 season.

The move to California was part of an expansion to the West Coast with the team joining four other relocated AHL teams that formed the basis of a Pacific Division.

Things have changed recently, though. During the COVID-altered season in 2021, the Heat played in Calgary and shared the Saddledome with the Flames, competing against other Canadian-based AHL teams.

The move follows the Vancouver Canucks transferring their AHL affiliate from Utica to Abbotsford, British Columbia last year, which is closer to the NHL team. Notably, Abbotsford and Calgary are separated by about 560 miles. 

The move is part of a recent trend as six of the seven Canadian-based NHL teams will now have their AHL affiliates playing north of the border. Edmonton’s AHL affiliate is based in Bakersfield, California.

Changing the location of the team comes with some uncertainty. It is unclear how AHL divisions might change with the team moving locations. The league said division alignment will be finalized at a later date.

Utica has played in the Eastern Conference’s North Division since the 2015-16 season with other New York state-based teams.

The AHL also noted that the 2022-23 season will begin Friday, Oct. 14.

While some AHL teams have announced dates for home games the 2022-23 season, the Comets have not mentioned any of their own for their 10th season in the league.

Amerks’ Holmstrom suspended for two games

The AHL Tuesday announced that Rochester Americans forward Ben Holmstrom has been suspended for two games as a consequence of an illegal check to the head of an opponent in a playoff game at Laval on Sunday.

Holmstrom will miss Rochester’s next two games, beginning with Game 3 of their division final playoff series vs. Laval on Wednesday. If Rochester’s season ends before the suspension can be completed, the remaining game will carry over to the next time Holmstrom is on an active AHL roster.

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