Welcome back to another edition of the Calgary Flames Prospects Report. This is a reoccurring segment at The Hockey Writers, that follows the prospects in the Flames system throughout the 2021-22 season.
This week, several of the Flames’ NCAA prospects hit the scoresheet, including Matthew Coronato’s debut with the Harvard Crimson. Rory Kerins has been lighting up the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and leading the way for the Soo Greyhounds. Jakob Pelletier made his pro hockey debut with the Stockton Heat and has been a solid addition to their top line. Finally, we preview an exciting season debut coming this Wednesday.
Coronato’s College Career off to a Quick Start
It didn’t take Coronato long to make his mark on the NCAA. Just 1:10 into the game, he stole the puck on the penalty kill and skated down the ice to score his first NCAA goal.
In his first game with Harvard, he scored two goals and two assists in a huge 9-3 over Dartmouth. The following night, Coronato had another good showing, scoring a goal and an assist for six points in his first weekend of college hockey.
Coronato registered an assist in the next game against Cornell Big Red but was held off the scoresheet in the next two. Playing on the first line, he has three goals and seven points on 14 shots through five games. The Crimson’s next game is on Friday against the Clarkson Golden Knights.
Pelletier Playing a Big Role in First Pro Season
Last season was a roller coaster for Pelletier. He was named to Canada’s World Junior team but lost the gold medal to the United States. He was dominant in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and helped lead the Val-d’Or Foreurs to the final, only to lose in double overtime of Game 6.
This season, Pelletier made his pro hockey debut with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League (AHL), and so far, he has impressed. He’s been playing on the top line alongside Adam Ruzicka and Matthew Phillips, who have combined for 27 points in eight games. Pelletier has two goals and seven assists, and his nine points are tied for fourth in AHL rookie scoring.
Kerins Leading the Way for the Soo Greyhounds
Rory Kerins was denied a full season in 2020-21 because of the OHL shutdown. Instead, he was put on the Stockton roster, practiced with the team, and played four games in the shortened season. However, his time with the Heat seems to have paid off as he’s started the 2021-22 OHL season on a hot streak.
Kerins is second in OHL scoring, with nine goals and 23 points through 14 games, and showing no signs of slowing down. He has been held off the scoresheet just five times this season; he has already had two four-point games and a six-point game that included a hat trick. In his 19-year-old season, he is averaging 1.64 points per game. The Flames’ last sixth-round pick to average that pace at 19 was Andrew Mangiapane, who averaged 1.80 points per game.
Boltmann Finding His Footing with Notre Dame
Jake Boltmann took some time to find his stride in the NCAA with the Norte Dame Fighting Irish, but he is quickly becoming a key player on the team. In 19 games last season, he didn’t register a single point but in nine games this season, he has six, including his first career collegiate goal.
Boltmann’s best game was against the Holy Cross Crusaders when he scored a goal and an assist with four shots and was a plus-2. After remaining pointless all last season, he is now Notre Dame’s leading scorer among defensemen. Playing on the top pairing, he should continue to produce in his sophomore season.
Nodler Leading Michigan State in Scoring
In 73 games in his first two seasons with the Michigan State Spartans, Josh Nodler had just six goals and 19 points. Ten games into his junior season, he has three goals and eights points while playing on the Spartans’ top line. He leads the team in scoring and is poised to pass his career-high of 11 points set in 2020-21.
Nodler started the season as the team’s top-line center and has been a key contributor for MSU, collecting five points in the team’s four wins. At 20, there is still plenty of runway for him as a prospect, and if he continues to produce, the Flames may have another late-round draft gem in their organization.
Zary to Make Season Debut
Connor Zary had a promising debut with the Heat during the 2020-21 season while he was waiting for the Western Hockey League (WHL) to start in late March. He played alongside Phillips and Ruzicka and registered seven points in his first nine AHL games. At training camp this season, many fans questioned if he had a shot at making the Flames. But that all came to a halt when he blocked a shot in the Flames rookie game and fractured his ankle.
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Zary has been out for nearly two months, but Calgary general manager Brad Treliving confirmed on Tuesday that he would make his season debut with the Heat on Wednesday versus the Bakersfield Condors. However, Stockton’s first line is clicking, so it will be interesting to see where head coach Mitch Love inserts Zary into the lineup for his season debut.
That wraps up another edition of the Flames Prospects Report. Be sure to check back into The Hockey Writers to read more storylines about the Flames’ prospects this season.