As we get ready for the the 2014-15 season, it may be time to get yourself reacquainted with your team’s minor league affiliates and what could be in store for your team should they need a call-up or two. I’ll go through them team by team in hopes that this enlightens some people to their affiliate teams. Today, the Gateway to the West in St. Louis and the Blues are our focus, with their affiliates in Chicago, Illinois and back to Anchorage Alaska.
Affiliate Since: 2013-14
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 299 miles
Last Season: 45-21-5-5, 1st in Midwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference
After missing the playoffs last year, the Wolves came back in a big way in their first year as the Blues affiliate, being only one of two teams to hit the 100-point plateau. With a balanced attack, the Wolves were able to get themselves out of the first round, but were swept in the second.
The true story for the Wolves was the stellar play of Jake Allen, who led in every goaltending category except saves, where he was 2nd. It’s no wonder that Allen won the Bastien Award for top goaltender on the season. Allen’s 33 wins was a catalyst for the Wolves play, while back-up Matt Clime did what he could in Allen’s place, but only mustered 11 wins in his 23 appearances.
Rookie Ty Rattie made his presence known by leading the Wolves in goals and points with 31 and 48. Along with Alexandre Bolduc and Dmitrij Jaskin, they led the team with five power play goals. Minor-league journeyman Keith Aucoin also chipped in 32 assits and 43 points in his first year in Chicago. After being sent down, Adam Cracknell put up 12 goals and 25 points in his 28 games with the Wolves.
There was a lot of offensive output from the blue line, especially on special teams where Evan Oberg put up four power play goals on the year to go with his 25 points, while Taylor Chorney had two short-handed goals with his 25 points. Mid-season pick up Mark Cundari contributed 5 goals and 13 points in 24 games with the Wolves.
Leading Scorers: Ty Rattie (31g, 17a), Keith Aucoin (11g, 32a), Alexandre Bolduc (18g, 19a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Being one of the last cuts, Rattie will be one of the top guys in the league to shuttle to and from their parent club. Also, depending on how the Blues want the defense, Brett Regner could very well be battling for the 6th or 7th defenseman up on the Blues line-up. Colin Fraser should also be brought up towards the end of the season to bring some veteran presence to the Blues line-up.
Outlook: With Jake Allen going to St. Louis, the goaltending won’t be as solid as it was with Jordan Binnington, Matt Clime, and Mike Clemente all vying for time in the cage. The Wolves will need to get the most out of Rattie as long as they have him, while hoping the newcomers like Gergo Nagy can chip in a goal or 20 in order to give support to the goaltending and defense.
ALASKA ACES (Split with Minnesota)
Affiliate Since: 2014-15
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 3,723 miles
Last Season: 45-19-3-4, 1st in Mountain Division, 1st in Western Conference
The eventual Kelly Cup champions had quite the dominant year– scoring the most goals, putting up the most points in the league, and pretty much having their run of the Western Conference and league. Peter Sivak and Nick Mazzolini lead the offensive way for the Aces, both being in the top-five in league points. Sivak was tied for second in goals in the ECHL, as well. On special teams, Brendan Connolly and Evan Trupp were the top with the extra man advantage.
Defensively, Brad Richard, Drew MacKenzie, and James Martin held down the fort for the cavalcade of goalies who went through Alaska. While Mark Guggenberger was supposed to take the lead, he left the team– allowing for Gerald Coleman and then Olivier Roy to take advantage and have their time in the starter’s role.
Leading Scorers: Peter Sivak (31g, 52a), Nick Mazzolini (25g, 47a), Evan Trupp (17g, 33a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Should his play with the extra man continue to be solid, Connolly could be getting some looks by some AHL teams, while Ross Ring-Jarvi should also get some looks after a solid return to North America after a year on Norway in 2012-13.
Outlook: This past season will be a hard act to follow, but the Aces have always been a class organization who is able to succeed regardless of the turnover the team may experience. With a dual affiliation this year, the Aces could get a solid windfall of prospects if there’s an overrun of players.