On January 29, 2015 the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames announced that they had purchased the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder and would move the ECHL team to Glens Falls, New York, the locale of their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, while moving the AHL franchise from Adirondack to Stockton.
The Thunder had a terrific run in Stockton, lasting 10 seasons, making the playoffs in eight of those seasons, attracting 2,131,587 fans and holding the distinction as the only California based ECHL club to ever compete for a Kelly Cup Championship.
The announcement that Stockton would be getting an AHL team was received with a lot of excitement as it was also announced that four other NHL teams, the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks would all be moving their top affiliates to California beginning Fall 2015.
The team held a “Name the Team” contest, the second ever in Stockton’s hockey history. After Michelle Costa, an 11-year old from Tracy, California named the Thunder team back in 2005, it’d be Daniel Harms who’d be announced the winner of the “Name the AHL Team” contest. The name Heat was selected over four other popular entries, “Blaze”, “Fire”, “Inferno” and “Scorch”.
While the Heat will be one of seven teams (San Jose Barracuda, Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars) to be in the inaugural “Pacific Division” of the AHL in 2015, the franchise that comes to Stockton has actually been around since 1977.
The franchise began in Portland, Maine as the Maine Mariners, making several moves until finding a long-term home in Stockton as part of the AHL movement to the West Coast. Over the past 38 years, the franchise has won four Calder Cup Championships and has employed some of the best players and coaches in the history of the sport including Ken Daneyko, Martin Brodeur, Herb Brooks and Marty St. Louis .
Over 88% of the players in the NHL today have developed in the American Hockey League. The city of Stockton is very excited to play a part in the long-term success of the Calgary Flames beginning in Fall 2015.