Good Morning Insiders!
After last night’s defeat in San Jose, the team hopped on a bus and drove to Stockton for the second game of this weekend’s back-to-back set. Despite being the visiting team, Ontario actually arrived at Stockton Arena before the Stockton Heat, who were in the process of busing back from Bakersfield and their season opener.
I’ve heard good things about Stockton Arena and while I’ve only seen the locker room area – the ice & floor itself was pitch black last night – I’m excited to get over for a game that feels like one I’ve seen all too many times, from the other angle.
I spent three of my five seasons in the industry in within the Calgary Flames minor league systems, including one year in the AHL with the Adirondack Flames, who are now the Heat. I have to say, it feels a little bit weird going in as a part of the other side if you will. While in Glens Falls, I watched the “AA” versions of the Los Angeles and Calgary organizations square off more times than I can remember, the black and white of the Manchester Monarchs against the red and yellow of the Adirondack Thunder, including playoff series’ between those two teams in three straight seasons.
Walking into the arena tonight will certainly jog some old memories, albeit in a new location. Stockton Heat Head Coach Cail MacLean was our bench boss in Adirondack for two of my three years there and I worked for Stockton Heat President Brian Petrovek for three of my four years in Adirondack. Stockton GM Brad Pascall and Equipment Manager Peter Bureaux were in the same roles with the AHL Flames and the voice of the Heat, Brandon Kisker and I moved our way through several players transactions. Stockton Heat forwards Ryan Lomberg and Brett Pollock both played in the ECHL in Adirondack.
The connections don’t stop with me though. Stockton forward Scott Sabourin spent part of the 2015-16 season with Ontario while Reign forward Jamie Devane spent the 2016-17 season with the Heat and has the most recent Calder Cup Playoff goal in Stockton history from Game 5 of Round 1 of the 2017 postseason.
One of the interesting parts about this industry that really differentiates it from a normal job, especially for the players, is that you may only have “co-workers” for just a matter of months. In an office setting, you may work alongside the same person for 10 years but in hockey, especially at the minor-league level, it could be less than one with contracts, callups, trades, etc. As an example, 17 players that skated in double-digit games with the Reign last season are not on the 2018-19 Opening Night roster.
You see these sorts of reunions all the time, old teammates from juniors or college or the minors, now facing off as opponents at the pro level. Brings out the human side of the industry a bit.
Back to the regular side of the industry, Ontario is on the ice today for an 11:15 morning skate at Stockton Arena, preceding tonight’s 6 PM puck drop. Game preview coming later today!