I said it in our last podcast: to all of those people crying “There is no hockey”, I call you on your bullshit. Our Victoria puckhead Adrian Charlie is putting together a little rundown of some options y’all have to quench your thirst for icy fast goodness. First up, the American Hockey League.
“The dirty little secret of Canada… Canada isn’t a hockey country, it’s an NHL country.”
— Chris Withers (Jason’s note: “That Withers bastard always steals my stuff.”)
by Adrian Charlie
Far too many fans have uttered, “I miss hockey.” I ask why? There are loads of worthy, quality hockey games. Everywhere. These posts are inspired by my own need to seek high quality hockey with a focus on Vancouver/Victoria. Of course, you’re not so limited. There are several well-represented hockey leagues underway across Canada and the USA — but even if you’re not in one of these cities, you’ve got minor hockey, college hockey, women’s hockey, hell even roller hockey someplace nearby. Most of them are either free or embarrassingly close to it.
And let’s not stop there. How about finding a community rink, strapping on some blades and going for a skate your bad self? Don’t let Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr steal your game from you.
Just like the No Hockey League, there are 30 teams in the AHL. The difference is, these ones are playing (even though they have some of the same players, because they’re all NHL affiliates! How does that work?) For many players, the AHL is considered stepping stone for the big show. Locally for us, the Abbotsford Heat is the Calgary Flames affiliate and single game tickets range from $15-$40. Yeah, that’s right. I said fifteen freaking dollars. Vancouver-area hockey fans should be packing this place every night, even if it’s just to wear their Canucks jerseys and Bronx cheer the Flames prospects. (That is what they do when the Chicago Wolves come to town, but I’d like to see it happen more often than four nights a year…)
There are four Canadian AHL teams in total: the Heat, the Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs farm team), the St John’s IceCaps (Winnipeg Jets affiliate), and the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens farm team). That means that 26 teams play in American markets — look ‘em up and get you bum in a seat, already!
Most of these teams have local radio coverage — the Heat have all games live on the Team 1040 out of Vancouver along with live simulcast on their website.
If you’re more of a TV kind of person, however, that’s where things are somewhat different. Major networks don’t broadcast many live AHL games, so you’ll have to check your local stations for occasional live games. Or you might have to pay similar dollars to what NHL packages run for online feeds. The AHL offers live stream packages starting with single game streams for seven bucks. Packages include archived games and can go league-wide or focus on your favourite team. Packages for online streaming range from $100 – $400.
Next time round: the Canadian Hockey League.
(Note: I’ll be heading to a few Abbotsford Heat games over the next few weeks myself. I’ve been a couple of times over the past two seasons and there are no bad seats in that building. Entirely worth the drive out Abby way. Kelly Foster — @Heatfan63 for your tweeting pleasure — encourages all y’all to do the same!)