With the Stockton Heat coming into the Stockton Arena and bringing the hockey competition to the next level in the AHL league, compared to the Thunder in the ECHL, I wanted to take a look into how the AHL came along and what makes it so special in California.
The International Hockey League merged together with the Canadian-American Hockey league in 1936 to form the International-American Hockey League. “International” would later be dropped from the league name in 1940, giving the league its acronym AHL – American Hockey League.
By 1995-96, the AHL was aligned into 4 divisions and two conferences creating a very competitive atmosphere for all teams. As of 2015, the AHL is composed of an Eastern Conference and Western Conference. The Eastern Conference is composed of two divisions: Atlantic Division and North Division. The Western Conference is composed of two divisions: Central Division and Pacific Division. Both the Eastern and Pacific Divisions are made up of seven teams, while the Atlantic and Central Divisions are made up of eight teams.
The Stockton Heat is part of the Pacific Division; this division is made up of the following teams:
San Antonio Rampage
San Diego Gulls
San Jose Barracuda
The movement to California started in 2015 with the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and Edmonton Oilers bringing their AHL teams to California, with all of them kicking off their first season on the West Coast this fall. These NHL teams wanted to have closer access to their top prospects and save the cross-country journey for their players if they had to call anyone up to the NHL. Although five of the teams are located in California, it is the inaugural season for all seven teams in the Pacific Division.
The Calder Cup Championship is what all teams work so hard for. The Calder Cup is one of the league’s greatest challenges and ultimate honors to hoist in victory. The trophy is named after the leagues first President, Frank Calder, who reigned as President from 1917-1943. As of 2015, a total of 31 different cities have had their AHL club win the Calder Cup.
The new Stockton hockey franchise has been around since 1977, starting out in Portland, Maine as the Maine Mariners. Over 38 years the franchise has won four Calder Cup Championships and is now settled in Stockton, excitedly awaiting it’s new season on the West Coast.