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NHL10 simulation puts Heat on top

A simulation run by EA Sports’ NHL10 predicts that in their first season in the American Hockey League, the Abbotsford Heat will capture the Calder Cup and bring the AHL’s coveted championship trophy to British Columbia.

The simulation was conducted by artificial intelligence or logic of NHL10 that uses real-life data from each player. Results are extrapolated when two teams play based on player ratings and line combinations and include variances such as injuries and hot streaks to give a realistic outcome of a game or series.

The Heat, in their first season as the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames, finished fourth in the North Division but authored upsets of the Rochester Americans, Toronto Marlies and Chicago Wolves to reach the Calder Cup Finals.

The Adirondack Phantoms, who won two Calder Cups in Philadelphia before relocating to Glens Falls, N.Y., before the 2009-10 season, were the Eastern Conference champions despite their own fourth-place finish in the East Division. The Phantoms knocked off the Albany River Rats, Hershey Bears and Worcester Sharks before falling to Abbotsford in a seven-game final series.

EA’s simulation resulted in four teams who missed the actual Calder Cup Playoffs last season winning their respective divisions in 2009-10. Albany finished first overall in the regular-season AHL standings with 105 points; the River Rats’ parent club, the Carolina Hurricanes, finished first overall in EA’s simulation of the 2009-10 NHL season. The Manchester Monarchs, Rochester Americans and San Antonio Rampage were projected to be the other regular-season division champions.

Hershey’s Keith Aucoin came out as the AHL’s scoring champion, leading the league with 97 points. Bears teammate Alexandre Giroux scored a league-high 44 goals, and Christian Hanson of the Toronto Marlies was the top-scoring rookie with 31 goals and 83 points.

The American Hockey League and Electronic Arts Inc. recently announced an extension of their multi-platform marketing and licensing agreement, giving EA Sports the exclusive license to feature authentic AHL teams, players and jerseys in its best-selling hockey videogame franchise, NHL10, which is available now in stores worldwide.