Last July, Union College forward Josh Jooris gave up his senior year to sign a contract with the NHL’s Calgary Flames, and spent the season playing with the Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.
Unless he makes the Calgary roster next season, Jooris will be back in the Capital Region, and playing his home games in the Glens Falls Civic Center. The Flames’ AHL team was officially welcomed Friday to Glens Falls, replacing the Phantoms. The Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate is moving to Allentown, Pa.
“The Calgary Flames are dedicated to developing players in the American Hockey League, and are excited at the prospect of moving to a mature hockey market like Glens Falls that deserves to remain an AHL market,” said Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving at a press conference at the Civic Center, “The history and tradition of the Flames’ franchise goes back to the team’s birth as the Atlanta Flames, and we are proud to also pay tribute to our history with the introduction of a new version of the flaming ‘A’ here. We look forward to building on Glens Falls’ rich hockey history.”
Jooris spent three seasons at Union College, collecting 29 goals and 59 assists in 117 games. He was part of two ECAC Hockey regular-season championships, two ECACH tournament titles and three NCAA tournament appearances, which included a trip to the 2012 Frozen Four.
“I’m pretty excited to be coming back to upstate New York,” Jooris, who happened to be in Schenectady, visiting his ex-Union teammates, said. “I had a great time here. I went to a couple of games and watched the Phantoms play. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the hockey culture here. There’s a good fan base, I’ve heard. I’m excited our affiliate’s here.”
Jooris signed with the Flames shortly after he participated in the team’s development camp. He played in 73 of Abbotsford’s 76 games and had 11 goals, 16 assists and 67 penalty minutes. He also appeared in one playoff game against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“It was a great learning, developing year,” Jooris said. “There’s a lot of differences between the pro season and the college season. You play in pro, including training camp, upwards of 95 games. It’s definitely a grind, but I learned a lot. I developed as a player. We had a great coaching staff out in Abbotsford.”
With all the games in the AHL, compared to just playing twice on the weekends at Union, Jooris said he did hit a wall mid-season. Working through that and summoning the energy to keep going was key.
“There’s some ups and downs when you look at the schedule and you say, ‘Holy smokes, I’m only halfway done. It feels like I’ve played a whole season already,’ ” Jooris said. “That’s just part of the learning process. I managed to get through.”
By giving up his senior year, Jooris missed out on being a part of the Dutchmen’s first NCAA title. But he has no regrets on the decision he made.
“I came to school to play hockey and try and get an education. Obviously, I’m a year short,” Jooris said. “I made some steps in that. At the end of the day, I wanted to further my hockey career. When that opportunity presented itself with a contract, I had to jump at it. It’s all about the opportunity. It was pretty crazy that Union went on to win the championship. I couldn’t be happier for those guys.”
The Civic Center will undergo renovations to meet professional hockey standards. Phase 1 renovations consist of technology upgrades, including enhanced wi-fi within the facility and conference room, upgrades to the center’s outside signage, electronic signage within the center, and video, and Phase 2 is to include renovations to team locker rooms, weight exercise rooms, offices and power and lighting upgrades within the arena.
“We’ve seen in cities across the state — from Rochester and Syracuse to Utica — how a minor-league hockey affiliate can bring new energy, excitement, and jobs to local communities. New York State is thrilled that the Calgary Flames have chosen Glens Falls as home for their AHL affiliate,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said at the press conference. “New York has become a national leader in hockey, with two teams from the state — Union College and Clarkson University — securing the top college championship trophies this year, and the New York Rangers currently in the middle of an exciting Stanley Cup playoff run. I welcome the Flames here to New York state, congratulate [Glens Falls] mayor [Jack] Diamond and general manager Treliving on this accomplishment, and wish the team the best of luck on the ice.”