Rookie forward Markus Granlund (left) will be making his AHL debut on Friday when the Abbotsford Heat face the Oklahoma City Barons on the road.

Rookie forward Markus Granlund (left) will be making his AHL debut on Friday when the Abbotsford Heat face the Oklahoma City Barons on the road.

Heat news and notes: Granlund poised for AHL debut

Markus Granlund's English, like his game, is still in the developmental stages, but he doesn't shy away from a challenge.

Markus Granlund’s English, like his game, is still in the developmental stages, but he doesn’t shy away from a challenge.

On Tuesday, following practice with the Abbotsford Heat, the 20-year-old rookie forward from Oulu, Finland answered the bell when local media requested an interview in advance of his impending AHL debut.

During preseason stops in Penticton (for the Young Stars prospects tourney) and Calgary (for Flames training camp), Granlund had spoken to media with an assist from an interpreter – goalie Joni Ortio, a fellow Finn who suited up alongside him last season with HIFK Helsinki.

But on Monday, Ortio was reassigned to the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, leaving Granlund to fly solo. And he acquitted himself well.

“Of course it’s always a bad thing when you’re injured,” said Granlund, who is set to get into the lineup on Friday after being sidelined for the Heat’s first four games due to a lower-body injury suffered during Flames training camp.

“When you’re skating by yourself, it’s not fun. When you go with the guys, it’s fun again.

“I’ll just try to do my best and help the team as much as possible.”

The language is hardly the only adjustment for Granlund as he transitions to pro hockey on this side of the pond – there’s also the smaller rinks and increased physicality to contend with.

He got off to a terrific start at the Young Stars event, leading the tourney in scoring with three goals and an assist in three games, but hit a bit of a speed bump during Flames camp prior to the injury.

“He was really good in Penticton, and then he was just OK in training camp,” Heat head coach Troy Ward said. “It’s an experience thing, it’s a maturity thing right now. We’ve got to rev up his consistency.”

Ward said he’s not entirely sure at this point where he’ll slot Granlund into the lineup, but indicated the Flames’ second-round pick in 2011 could find a home between big wingers Ben Hanowski and Michael Ferland.

“He brings skill and speed, and he’s got a real good passion to play the game,” Ward said. “He’s got an NHL release – he shoots the puck really well. I’m anxious to get him in, because he gives us more speed.”


Ortio, as mentioned above, headed to Alaska on Monday, with fellow netminder Laurent Brossoit making the return trip from Anchorage to Abbotsford.

The timing of the recall couldn’t have been better for Surrey native Brossoit, who tweeted on Monday that he was at home for Thanksgiving for the first time in five years.

“It was nice – it felt like Christmas dinner,” he said with a grin. “It was cool to have the whole family all together. I usually only get that once a year, so it was nice to have it a second time.”

The rationale for Ortio and Brossoit switching places, according to Ward, is to get Ortio some game action while affording Brossoit some quality time with Heat goalie coach Jordan Sigalet. Ward indicated that the two could shuttle back and forth a couple of times this season, particularly in the early going, but that it was ultimately up to Flames management.

Reto Berra has started all four of the Heat’s games to this point, and Ward said he’ll be handling the bulk of the work for the foreseeable future.

“We’re trying to get Berra as much experience as we can, so if he does go up (to the Flames), he’s ready to start in the NHL,” he said.

Brossoit said it was “humbling” to be demoted to the ECHL, but said he enjoyed his stint in Alaska. He allowed three goals on 25 shots in his lone appearance, a preseason loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones on Oct. 8.

“It was a good experience – I thought I played well, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win,” he said. “They’re a good team over there, and you get treated very well, very professionally. And the fans there are crazy.”


Defenceman Patrick Sieloff, who missed both of the Heat’s home games last weekend after suffering a lower body injury, will not accompany the team on their road trip this week.

“He’s in Calgary right now with the team doctors,” Ward said. “Hopefully he’ll be back the week we play Lake Erie (Oct. 25-26 at home).”

Sieloff’s exit from the Heat lineup coincided with fellow blueliner Chris Breen’s return to action. Breen, out since mid-March recovering from shoulder surgery, suited up for both games vs. the Milwaukee Admirals and earned rave reviews from Ward.

“Seven months is a long time to be away from the game, so it felt great to be back with the guys and actually play a hockey game,” the 6’7″ defenceman said with a smile.

“I was skating pretty hard up in Calgary, so my legs felt awesome. It was just some timing things and whatnot. But overall, I felt really good.”


Ward acknowledged that the Heat’s upcoming three-games-in-three-days road swing – Friday and Saturday at the Oklahoma City Barons, and Sunday at the Texas Stars – will be a grueling test for the youthful squad, and he joked that he might resort to stalling tactics to give his group an occasional breather.

“We’ll get all the tricks in the book out – goalie drops down to fix his pad, call timeouts, throw pennies on the ice,” he said with a chuckle.

“It’s going to be a tough grind, three-in-three, especially on Sunday in Texas at 5 p.m. But it’s part of the process. The way I look at it is, we get the experience up until Christmas, and after Christmas, we’ll learn what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done well and we’ll have to make a push.”

Just Posted

An apartment building and townhouse project has been proposed at 2236 McCallum Rd. in Abbotsford. The development was given third reading by city council on June 14. (City of Abbotsford)
Apartment-and-townhouse project planned on McCallum Road in Abbotsford

Development across from old hospital site consists of 174 suites and 10 townhouses

Adam Hobbs went missing from a Langley work site on Monday, June 14 and may have gone to Vancouver. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Family, RCMP seek Abbotsford man missing from Langley job site

Adam Hobbs lives in Abbotsford and is a minor hockey referee

Police were on scene Monday afternoon (June 14) in the area of George Ferguson Way and Ware Street. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Police called out after reports of possible home invasion in Abbotsford

Incident on Monday afternoon at George Ferugson Way and Ware Street

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

The Vancouver Canucks have polled season ticket holders on team name options for the new Abbotsford AHL team.
Vancouver Canucks poll season tickets holders on Abbotsford AHL team name

List asks fans to rank three out of 10 options, also if Abbotsford or Fraser Valley should be used

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read