HEAT COME TO CALGARY
The Abbotsford Heat, the Calgary Flames top affiliate in the American Hockey League, come to Calgary for a game February 18 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Heat will take on the Oklahoma City Barons, the top affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.
See top Flames prospects like Leland Irving
, Greg Nemisz, Matt Pelech and others up close.
And, from Feb. 15-18, leading up to the game, calgaryflames.com will have features on some of the top prospects.
Get tickets to the Heat game Abbotsford Heat official site
Ales Kotalik played 20 games for the Calgary Flames this season before being placed on waivers scoring three goals in those 20 games. He cleared waivers and was then assigned to the Flames top affiliate Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
After playing 536 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, NY Rangers and Calgary Flames, the 32-year-old from Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic, took a step back from the NHL.
“It’s different, especially for a veteran guy like me,” said Kotalik. “It’s the way you never want your career to go, but the situation over here, all you can control is to go out there within the position and role you are given and try to do your best and that’s what I’m trying to do down there. That is what I was trying to do up here when I had the chance to play.
“I have a lot of shots but my role is way different. I’m playing a lot and I’m surrounded with the young guys and I’m trying to help them. I know how it feels when I was starting and I’m trying to support them and trying to be more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. I still want to keep on pace for a point a game and help the team to win. That’s all I can do.”
Well, mission accomplished. Head Coach Jim Playfair and his Heat teammates, have nothing but positive things to say about the veteran forward - and his hard shot.
“He’s awesome, I could not say a bad word about anything that Kots has brought to the group,” said Playfair. “He reinforces on the bench and in the dressing room. He’s been a player that I really try to promote to shoot pucks. I think he’s probably had 37-38 shots on goal in the games he has played. He’s doing a lot of good things and he’s got to be a top six player at any level that he plays at and he’s earning those minutes and he is a top player for us.”
Heat winger Jon Rheault, has grown especially fond of Kotalik as he continues to improve his offensive streak as of late, collecting 15 points in his last 17 games. He feels that Kotalik has made a huge positive impact for the young players in the dressing room.
“You’d assume that most people would have a bad attitude about it but he’s been great,” said Rheault of Kotalik being sent down to the AHL. “He’s been a great leader for us. You can learn so much on a daily basis, you just watch him in practice and in a game, just the little things he does from experience. How he makes room and gets pucks to the net. As a right winger, I’ve just been watching him as much as I can. It’s been a great experience for us, I know it’s not the best thing in his career right now but he’s handling it very well and has been a great player for us.
“He’s been great, right from the start when we first got him down here,” said Heat goaltender Leland Irving. “He’s been a good team leader, and a supportive guy. He’s talkative in the dressing room and is helping a lot of these young guys out especially his linemates.”
Kotalik joined the team near the beginning of a very tough road trip. The Heat played three games in three nights, five in six nights and seven in nine.
Along with his encouraging attitude, Kotalik brings something else with him- his deadly shot.
“It’s a very impressive shot,” said Rheault. “He uses it a lot and can get it off in a small area. He shoots from everywhere so our coach has been pulling us aside and telling us to watch him, watch how he shoots from everywhere and how he gets pucks on net.”
Kotalik has yet to score a goal for the Heat however he does have six assists and he does have his fair share of shots on goal. On February 5th against the Rockford IceHogs, Kotalik totalled an impressive 10 shots on net and has had six shots on net in each of his last three games. One is bound to go in.
“He’s a guy who creates chances,” said Irving. “He gets a lot of pucks through. They’re not always from the best scoring areas but he’s a smart player. He knows when guys are going to the net. You’re not always shooting to score, a lot of times you’re just shooting for a second chance or opportunity. He has a lot of assists to go with those shots but the goals will start to pile on I’m sure.”
So the question is- will Kotalik see another chance to play with the Calgary Flames this season or perhaps in the playoffs? Only time will tell. How he keeps motivated to make that happen is up to him.
“Once you get into a hockey game, you always try to play your style of game and do your best,” said Kotalik. “It doesn’t matter where it is. It can be on a pond or in the American League or in the National League.
“There is a really caring group of young guys down there and they are at the start of their careers. If I can do anything to help them by talking to them a little bit and giving them some experience or showing them something they can follow, then that’s what motivates me right now.”
Author: Kristi Hennessy/ calgaryflames.com