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Professional hockey arrived in the Fraser Valley in October of 2009, when the Abbotsford Heat embarked on their inaugural season at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The Heat ignited the local sports scene, and Abbotsford joined a select group of 10 Canadian cities which host pro hockey franchises.
The Heat play in the 30-team American Hockey League, the top developmental hockey circuit in the world. The vast majority of National Hockey League players – 84 per cent – have honed their skills in the AHL prior to moving up to the big show.
Abbotsford’s hockey team is affiliated with the NHL’s Calgary Flames. The parent club stocks the Heat with its top up-and-coming young prospects, and calls up players to the NHL throughout the season.
The Abbotsford Pilots are one of B.C.’s most successful junior B hockey franchises. The team has made it to the Pacific International Junior Hockey League finals six of the past seven years, winning league titles in 2005 and 2007. Several Pilots alumni have advanced to the professional ranks, including David Van der Gulik (Colorado Avalanche) and Derek Grant (Ottawa Senators prospect).