UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Get Back Into Form With Exhibition Victory


Photo from @UNDmhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– With wind chills hitting -30 to -50 Fahrenheit; 10,113 came out to the Ralph Engelstad Arena to see the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks take on the US National Team Development Program Under-18 team. While many didn’t know what to expect, UND got out to an early lead and didn’t look back winning 5-2. There were some scares for UND during the game, but they got the job done in their first game back after the semester break.

The first period saw UND score early with Cole Smith deflecting a Colton Poolman shot past Michigan State commit Drew Deridder just two and a half minutes into the game. However, the US was able to get some sustained offense with Boston University commit Jake Wise ringing one off the post past Cam Johnson’s blocker. It would take until the half-way point of the 1st for UND to score again, with Austin Poganski picking up the puck in the neutral zone and going in alone to put one past Deridder and make it 2-0. Five minutes later, Matt Kiersted fired a laser of a shot high blocker after Grant Mismash set him up on a silver platter to make it 3-0. Team USA would get one back late in the first with Ryan Savage (Miami-Ohio) gathering up a rebound off a Patrick Giles (Boston College) shot.

UND didn’t wait in the second period, as they were put on the power play and make short work of it with Jordan Kawaguchi going high blocker on Deridder to make it 4-1. USA’s first chance of the period came when Erik Middendorf (Denver) streaked away short-handed, but couldn’t get a handle on the puck, making it a routine pad save for Johnson. However, at the middle of the segment, Oliver Wahlstrom (Harvard) cut down the slot and went backhand farside on Johnson to make it 4-2.

Peter Thome came on in relief of Cam Johnson in the third. Johnson’s night ended with the two goals against and 16 saves. USA tried to sustain some pressure in the offensive zone, with Jack Hughes impressing with his stickhandling through the neutral zone, but yielded nothing. Third-string goalie Ryan Anderson got into the game in the last 2:44 to keep warm during the exhibition game. Shane Gersich sealed the deal into the empty net to make it 5-2 UND.

While the game and stats don’t count for anything, it was something that many on the Fighting Hawks roster thought was a good idea.


Cole Smith/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“It was a good exhibition,” said forward Cole Smith. “Something to knock the rust off and not get out huge. Just to get guys back into the flow of things.”

Christian Wolanin echoed, “The exhibitions work well. I think it was my freshman year, we played Huntsville, which was tough to get up for because you’re a little heavy and need to work the kinks out. These exhibition games work out well and we take advantage it of it.”

Even with the win, there’s always room to improve. With an almost 100% healthy roster, coach Brad Berry still says there are some things to iron out as UND gets into a bulk of their conference play in the final half of the season.

“When you have a nine, ten game break, coming off a break, there’s a little rust– as you could tell,” mentioned Berry. “I think we competed hard and execution was a little off. Defensive zone, we have to tighten up on a few things. We played against a skilled team, they played fast and we have to make things better for next week.”

UND resumes conference play as Nebraska-Omaha comes into the Ralph for next weekend’s set.

PSA: Maryland Jerseys On Sale Now


While this isn’t a paid product placement at all, I’ve got to let everyone know that the University of Maryland club hockey team is releasing their jerseys for sale for the month of January.

A link to their Google Form for the jersey is here and you should definitely look into getting one because they are slick as hell. At the price point of $120 plus $10 shipping, it’s a pretty decent deal to say the least.

More over, it’s to help the team out. Which they are trying to get the pride of Maryland out to the masses, it also is helping pay the teams bills. The club hockey team has to pay a lot of things out of pocket– especially for ice time and uniforms. The team set up a Go Fund Me earlier in the year to help with the costs of new white jerseys after the school ditch the script that the team had on the front of their whites. I’m assuming to stay in the good graces of the school and to get some kind of funding, the team had to change it. Rather than go out of pocket, the Go Fund Me got to about 75-80% of the goal when all was said and done, which help off-set a huge cost to the players.

At the semester break, the Terps are ranked #9 in the ACHA Southeast Division II standings with a 13-6-1 record. The team is currently on a three-game winning streak, while also winning nine of their last ten games heading into the break. In those nine wins, the Terps have outscored their opponents 53-19. The Terps will return to the ice January 19th at their home rink of the Laurel Ice Gardens to take on Rowan University.

So, get yourself a new jersey for your collection, support college club hockey, and show up to random pro games with an amazing jersey on your back. It’s a win-win-win in my book.

Minor League Weekly: Anas Going Wild, Wings Sneaky Good, Defiel Stepping In Solidly



Via Iowa Wild Trading Card Set

-I’ve barked a lot about Sam Anas in the past and now he’s really showing the AHL what he’s made of. The Bethesda, Maryland product hold the longest goal-scoring streak of the season with seven goals in six straight games, while on top of that, setting a franchise record with points in the last nine games (8g, 5a). Anas currently leads the team in points with 23, while he’s only five points away from surpassing his points total from his rookie season.

-With four-straight wins and points in nine of their last 10, the Rochester Americans are hitting their groove in the mid-point of the season. Being led by rookie CJ Smith, the Amerks are right behind the Toronto Marlies in the Eastern Conference and North Division in points percentage. The Amerks have also gotten plenty out of their veteran defensemen in Zach Redmond and Stuart Percy, who are not only putting up points offensively, but also protecting Linus Ullmark defensively. Ullmark, also, is posting the seventh best save percentage in the AHL with a .924 mark.



Photo from Kalamazoo Wings Facebook

-Keep an eye out on the Kalamazoo Wings in the new year. They’re an interesting team with both goalies having an above 3.00 GAA, but still ninth in the ECHL for total goals-against on the season. Their offense isn’t that grand either, ranking 19th of the 27 teams in the league for goals for, but somehow they’re still two points back of fourth in the Central with six games in hand. Veteran Justin Taylor is on a pace to break his career-highs in goals, assists, and points– all of which he set last year, while second-year Wing Tyler Biggs has been a solid compliment offensively to Taylor.

-It seems that if the Norfolk Admirals wanted to win, they need to play the Orlando Solar Bears almost every game. The two teams have faced off for their past five games with Norfolk coming out on top in four of the five. The Admirals have also won six of their last 10, which coincides with the announcement that the Nashville Predators terminated their affiliation. They’ve seen to temporarily leveled out the uneasy ship, but they’ll need just a bit more help to get back into playoff contention, though there’s plenty of time left.



Photo from Pensacola Ice Flyers Facebook

-After Sean Bonar signed in the ECHL and Greg Dodds bad luck in net, Gordon Defiel has stepped in to help out the Pensacola Ice Flyers between the pipes and keep their top standing in the SPHL. Defiel hasn’t lost in regulation in seven games and ranks second in the league in GAA and save percentage behind his teammate Dodds. With a solid two-goalie system in waiting, the Ice Flyers are set-up nicely to keep their top spot in the SPHL.

Olympic Hope Adds to Already Amazing Tournament at Spengler Cup


One of my favorite tournaments of the holiday season is the Spengler Cup. I’ve stumped for this tournament many times, not just because Vaillant Arena is a stunning site for the eyes, but also due to it being a land of, “Oh, that’s where that guy went.” The 2017 event has even more appeal to it, as there will be another national team aside from Canada to be featured right before the Olympics this year.

First, a bit of a history. The tournament itself is an invitation-only tournament hosted by HC Davos and created by Dr. Carl Spengler to help promote German-speaking European hockey clubs back in 1923. It was a way for those who felt ostracized after World War I to have place to play and have a communal feeling. Two teams who are constant are obviously HC Davos, but also Team Canada– which is a group of Canadian players who play over in Europe and are released by their minor league or college clubs to play in this event. Canada has been given an invite since 1984; while the other teams are filled out by other national teams and European club teams.

With this installment of the Spengler Cup, Canada’s team will have a last rehearsal for players want to represent the nation in the 2018 Games in South Korea. While there are plenty of former NHL players who play in Europe on the roster, it also has three players from the AHL (Jeff Schultz, Cody Goloubef, and Christian Thomas), as well as four players from the NCAA (Brandon Hickey, Jake Evans, Jeremy Davies, and Dylan Sikura). With five players back from last years championship team (Mason Raymond, Nick Spaling, Maxim Noreau, Andrew Ebbett, and David MacIntrye); the Canadians should continue to be a favorite in this event.

However, Canada isn’t the only team who’s scouting their Olympic roster as Switzerland will be fielding a team ahead of the Olympics. Some names that NHL fans may know include Damian Brunner, Tobias Stephan, and Raphael Diaz; but start to learn about goalie Leonardo Genoni. Genoni has had a history with the Spengler Cup with HC Davos, but it’s been one of hot and cold spells in this week long tournament. With the Swiss paired against Canada, South Korea, and the Czech Republic; taking on Canada and the other participants in the Spengler could give them a gauge on what they would need in order to have success in Olympics. A notable omission is goalie Jonas Hiller, who played in the Karjala Cup in November, but is not on this roster.

HC Davos, Canada, and Switzerland will be joined by Dinamo Riga of Latvia and the KHL, Mountfield HK of Czech Republic, and finally HPK Hameenlinna of Finland. There are times where teams will loan out players for this event– which HC Davos is taking advantage of with getting Jeremy Morin from SC Bern, Tomi Sallinin from Kloten, and Samuel Lofquist from EHC Biel. For Dinamo Riga, the likes of Danny Kristo, Karl Stollery, and Nikolai Zherdev are on their KHL squad and will most likely be at this tournament. Former King and Panther Jaroslav Bednar captains the Mountfield team, while Hameenlinna boost a young squad of players including former Bruins prospect Mikko Lehtonen.

It’s a quick and fun tournament that doesn’t get enough play in the US, even if there’s a US team in it like was the case with the Rochester Americans a few years back. If you’re in Canada, you can catch the action on the TSN family of networks; but in the US– good luck finding a totally legal stream of the event.

Minor League (Not) Monday: Zykov on Fire, Another Brodeur Netminder, Shake-up in Roanoke



-If you haven’t already, you have to start to keep an eye out for Valentin Zykov in Charlotte. With 17 goals already this season, he’s tied with Lehigh Valley’s Danick Martel with most goals in the league. In fact, Zykov is on a five-game goal-scoring streak, where he has tallied seven goals in that span. Zykov also has topped his goal output form last season in 40 less games. A former 2nd Round pick by the LA Kings, Zykov was a throw-in by LA for Kris Versteeg at the 2016 Trade Deadline; to which the Carolina Hurricanes organization is reaping the benefits.

-I know I’ve mentioned how great the Manitoba Moose turnaround has been, but it keeps on going for them. They haven’t lost in regulation in 14 games with the shootout loss happening between a nine-game and currently a four-game winning streak. They are 13 points up on 2nd place Rockford while boasting two players in the top-10 in scoring in Jack Roslovic (14g, 16a) and Mason Appleton (9g, 18a). Add that to the superb goaltending of Michael Hutchinson (11-1-2, 1.71, .950) and you have a team with the right chemistry for this revitalization for the Moose.



-Say what you will about goaltending being in the family, but Jeremy Brodeur has been making quite the name for himself in his early going with the Allen Americans this season. In 13 games this season, one-half of Martin Brodeur’s twin boys is 6-2-1 while being top-five in save percentage at .930 in this early season. Brodeur has been taking the reins from Stephon Williams in net with Riley Gill being injured, which could be a nice little changing of the guard for the Americans if Brodeur can keep this going.

-There’s not much to cheer about for the Jacksonville IceMen, who have only five wins on the season, but Emerson Clark has provided a solid stat-line for the fans. Tied for the team lead in points with Alexandre Goulet, Clark’s 113 PIMs in only 19 games is possibly the most impressive of any hockey player. Bringing the old school toughness back with the playmaking and scoring ability to keep him relevant in the ECHL.



-It will be interesting to see how the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs will respond to Sam Ftorek getting fired for Dan Bremner. It hasn’t been easy for Roanoke, but at the same time– maybe a shake-up for the team will do them well. With the SPHL having such a short season, the need to right the season early on is crucial. You almost have to wonder if it could be too late to turn the season around, though they are only two points away from a playoff spot. Of course, with the new “Pick Your Poison” playoff format, the team would want to improve their spot and actually be a threat, rather than a one-and-done team. Time will tell, but maybe getting a coaching change will be a wake-up call to the players. Plus, with Bremner’s experience playing in the SPHL, it’ll help the players realize the urgency to get back on the winning track.

Selling Out For the Celebration


Photo via @CanadiensMTL

With the NHL 100 game behind us and the uniforms really looking more like the next 100 years for the NHL (in the terms of aesthetics), it makes me wonder if there’s more that could have been done for the game and celebration.

It was an odd outdoor game situation– the alumni game was a split-squad for the Senators, the game itself was surrounded by things Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in regards to moving the team, and there wasn’t too much hype for it until a couple days before the game (at least in my eyes).

Yet, through throwing out stuff on Twitter— mostly in jest– I do wonder if there’s something that really could have made this NHL 100 situation a much more memorable experience. There’s only so much you can do with the players themselves because of their game schedule, practicing in the elements, and the health of the players in general. However, I think there’s something that could have been done a little better.

First, rather than a musical act (all due respect to Bryan Adams), they should have done a little musical play of that first season. Have actors out there in the older gear going around the rink as they would during the intermission segments in the real arena. It would be a great nod to the actual first season of the NHL, remembering the heritage of the game, as well as showing off those sweet duds of the 1917 era.

Second, they should have had more events surrounding the “Top 100” players in NHL history. The NHL made a whole to-do about this list and yet doesn’t seem like many of those players were able to come out. Sure, the modern guys were actually in-season, but you have to think there were more guys from the earlier eras available to do things for this weekend’s celebrations.

Sidebar: It seems really odd they would present the “Best Moment in the NHL History” thing during the game-play on the ice. Sure, they wanted to trot out either Mario Lemieux or Bobby Orr; but the players are already freezing out there and you have them standing around as this thing is going on?? A little silly when you could have done it during an intermission.

Third– recreate the first games. Again, either actors or beer-league players doing the first games of Canadiens vs. Senators and Wanderers vs. Arenas in one of the outdoor rinks Ottawa has around the area. Give them as much older gear as safely possible and just have a little fun with it. I’m sure those participating would have soaked it all in for a chance to “re-write” history and just to be apart of the celebration. One of the biggest things is that the NHL wants to be inclusive– so why not pull out all the stops to actually bring people into these big events when they happen??


Finally– the uniforms on ice. Like I said, it’s like they had a look of “Turning Ahead the Clock” like the MLB did in the mid-90s. For a game like this, you’d think that the NHL and Adidas would have really brought the Heritage idea back to this game like they tried to do with the Winter Classic. Whether that’s just a Winter Classic gimmick or not, I don’t know– but for a game of this magnitude, something should have been a little more throwback. They could have done like the 75th Anniversary season with the look (even down to the referees), but they went another route which– hey, their call.

I will give a tip of the hat to the NHL for doing what they’ve done to celebrate their 100 years, but in my head there’s a lot more that could have been done, especially with this game and the weekend around it. Whether it’s logistics of insurance or schedules or whatever– it didn’t happen. But at the end of the day, they did all they could in order to make this a thing that would leave a lasting memory for players and fans. Whether it did or not, only time will tell.

On the Topic Of the Samsonov Situation

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When the news came out that Capitals GM Brian MacLellan went over to Russia to speak with Ilya Samsonov, it did create a bit of a buzz. With current back-up goalie Philipp Grubauer being a pending restricted free agent and Samsonov being in the last year of his deal in the KHL, there’s some people were wonder if Grubauer could be traded if there’s a deal pending for the former 1st round pick in Samsonov.

Yet, let’s not go overboard just yet with this, folks.

One of the reasons to go over for MacLellan is to do his due diligence on Samsonov. They used a high pick on him and he hasn’t come over to North America with the exceptions of the prospect camps the Caps hold every year. To go over and gauge the interest in Samsonov’s readiness to come to North America after his contract is up at the end of this season is a responsible move and one GMBM needed to do in order to plan on what to do with his goaltending depth.

The idea of trading Grubauer is out there, but don’t expect it to happen during the season this year. While the market for back-up goalies is high, the need for a playoff team to have a proven commodity in net is always something a successful team needs to have in order to go far. With the Caps in the thick of it in the Metro and Wild Card race, to have someone like Pheonix Copley or Vitek Vanecek back-up Braden Holtby in net would be quite the risk just to trade Grubauer while his value is a bit higher than usual.

With reports saying that Samsonov and the Caps are close to having a verbal agreement (as they can’t sign anything until April 30th), the question is where is going to fit in with their depth in net. There’s going to be many who say that he should back-up Holtby– and there’s a solid chance he could do that. However, there’s also a chance that he’s shaky in his first camp and he could be moved to Hershey to get more tuned up with the North American game. You’d also have to wonder how Copley and Vanecek would react since both have put in time in the minors and in the Caps system only to have a hot-shot kid come in and take a spot that could have been them.

That said– goalie union, players being team guys, all that sort will be talked about if those two get passed over and take it in stride…as much as they can after getting beaten out of a spot.

Of course, as much as Samsonov says he’d want to play in the NHL (or even the AHL), there’s a bigger chance he does something like Evgeny Kuznetsov did and make his money in Russia while he can before coming to North America and dealing with the NHL entry-level contract stuff. Especially with the amount of money to be made if Magnitogorsk were to win the KHL title back-to-back this season. The only possible help for the Caps is that Igor Larionov is the agent for Samsonov, so he could lean more towards Samsonov getting to North America sooner than later and deal with the depth chart stuff as it comes.

At the end of the day, Grubauer shouldn’t (and probably won’t) be traded in-season unless the Caps get a solid return AND have unanimous fate in Copley or Vanecek, while Samsonov isn’t going to be coming to North America until next training camp at the earliest if he signs. Best to just focus on how the Caps can maybe break away from the rest of the Metro field to give their fans some easy breathing moments before the playoff heart attacks.

Hack Journalist Says Flames Will Be Moved


There’s many reasons I loathe Eric Francis, the former morning zoo DJ trying to be a legitimate columnist. NBC Sports’ Sean Leahy says that my feud with Francis is one of his favorite one-sided feuds. However, his latest column for the Calgary Sun just adds to my point that this man is a lacky for Flames management.

For the bullet points, Francis says that the time is now for the ownership group for the Flames to sell the team to Tilman Fertitta in Houston so that the Flames can move. This is after the Flames and the city of Calgary talk of a new arena is at a stand-still and after the new of Seattle being the next expansion destination.

Francis says that the Flames have outgrown the town of Calgary. A “town” of over 1.4 million people. A professional sports team has outgrown it. I’ll let that sink in because you can’t believe someone can be so pompous.

And not just Houston is thrown out there, Francis also throws out Quebec City because, why not?? Francis went so far as saying it’s going to be three years before the Flames are in Houston– which is an insane timeline when you think about how slow things can move in sports, though it did take three years for the Carolina Hurricanes to be sold.

Oh, and it should be said that the new prospective ownership in Carolina has a clause in their agreement that would prevent the new team from relocation for seven years. Therefore, the idea Francis has– given the fact that the NHL will want to have some stability in a strong Canadian market– is really far-fetched. Not a shock, but worth pointing out.

It should also be noted that the Toyota Center in Houston is more than 2,000 seats less than the Saddledome– though it has 31 more luxury seats, which the NHL salivates over. Also, Quebec City is HALF THE SIZE OF CALGARY– so who why would the NHL want to not only go to a smaller market that will be divided with the Canadiens and throw the conference alignment out of whack??

Of all the points that Francis made, there’s only one I can agree with and that’s the idea of getting an Olympic bid for 2026 being the only way Calgary gets a new arena. And if Mayor Naheed Nenshi is putting all his eggs in that basket, it’s a terrible game to be playing. The IOC is quite the crooked organization and you can bet what they have in mind of a new arena is much more absurd than what the Flames have put forth and would cost much more to the people of Calgary than the Flames plan.

Should taxpayers pay for new arenas?? I’m not a economist, but I’m going to say no. Especially in a sport like hockey in Canada were it’s just a license to print money in most casts– the ownership should have capital to be able to build an arena on their own dime. The Flames are valued by Forbes to be worth $430M with a revenue of $129M…which I think is a little more than enough to start putting together a self-funded arena.

There’s no question the Flames need a new building. It’s a highly outdated facility and while they tried to upgrade after the flooding, it was just putting a new coat of paint on an old barn. Unlike baseball and to an extent football, there’s no appeal in an old arena for hockey. It starts to get run down, nickel and dime the team to repair things to keep up-to-date with technology in the sport, and especially for an arena designed in the ’80s, the appeal isn’t as it was for places like the Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens.

With all that said, I’m putting this at a 3% chance of the Flames actually going through with selling and then having the team relocate in the time-span Francis puts it at. The NHL will want to put a clause in any new deal that keeps a team in town for the time being and for the new owners to adapt to the climate. Yet, if the Flames are sold– it could wake up people in the town and those in city council to maybe get a little nervous of a move– hopefully not getting nervous enough to sell their constituents down the river to pay for a new arena.

At the end of the day– Eric Francis is a hack. Eric Francis is sucking from the teat of the Calgary Flames management to keep in their good graces so he can keep writing garbage columns. How any competent news organization gives him the page space or TV time is beyond me because there are too many good talent in Calgary going unused thanks to old hacks like Francis sticking around.

MINOR LEAGUE MONDAY: P-Bruins Rolling, Williams Pride of the Monarchs, DeLaVergne is All or Nothing



-The streaky team of the week is the Providence Bruins, who have won their last seven games. After getting embarrassed 8-2 by Charlotte on November 25th, the P-Bruins haven’t lost and have won four of the seven game in extra time. While Kenny Agostino hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm that got him the MVP last year, Austin Czarnik has been picked up the scoring with 21 goals in 18 games. There’s a tough patch for the P-Bruins, who won’t play on home ice until January 5th as they go on an eight-game road swing.

-Despite being minus-six in the goal differential category, the Texas Stars have still managed to be one of the hotter teams in the Western Conference. With eight wins in their last ten, including their current three-game winning streak, the Stars are looking to add a little more punch to their game. However, they’ve taken a hit with Jason Dickinson getting called up to the NHL. While Travis Morin and Curtis McKenzie hold down the fort, the Stars will need to get more consistent secondary help, as well as some key stops from their goaltending. Rookie Landon Bow has been solid with 10-4-0 record, but the hope is that he’ll improve on his 2.65 GAA as the season goes on and he continues to adjust.



-Charles Williams is a great story. The rookie goalie from Manchester has been a great addition to the every day line-up, leading the ECHL in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.936) while being tied for second in wins (10) . This is after he had an amazing season at Canisius College (21-7-5, 1.82, .949) after transferring from Ferris State due to lack of playing time. With a chance to get playing time, Williams got into the top-10 in voting for the Hobey Baker Award and was Canisius College men’s player of the year. Williams went a perfect 3-0-0 when he joined the Monarchs at the end of last season.

-While he hasn’t gotten any weekly or monthly awards, Michael Joly out of Colorado should be getting plenty of recognition. Sure, he’s a Cy Young nominee (many more goals than assists)– but his 19 goals and six power play goals lead the league. With the help of Matt Register and Drayson Bowman, Joly and the Eagles are in prime position to defend their Kelly Cup title in the franchise’s last season in the ECHL.



-Mike DeLaVergne is an interesting subject. He leads the SPHL in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.944), as well as being undefeated in regulation– but in his two losses he’s given up three and five goals a piece, but in his wins– it’s one or less. DeLaVergne is really an all-or-nothing goalie. It will help the Huntsville Havoc for DeLaVergne to push Keegan Asmundson and maybe get more time between the nets. For a team in the middle of the standing– it’ll probably come down to the goaltending to get them into a better spot in the playoffs.

Minor League News: Re-No and New Found Land for ECHL in St. John’s??


There has been some news out on the ECHL in the past couple days when it comes to markets that are looking to get into the league. One of the stories is good, the other– not so much.

The bad news first in that the mirage of the Reno market for the ECHL continues. It seems that Reno has been in the mix for the ECHL for the better part of a decade. There seemed to be some traction when the Reno Puck Club came to be in 2016, but since then– there has been some personnel turnover on the city of Reno side which has stalled a team getting into the market, while the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor’s Authority is looking to get out of managing the possible Events Center that the team could be playing in. While some in Reno think this is just a formality before a team gets there– especially with Vegas being in the NHL and a perfect link to affiliation– I wouldn’t hold the collective breath of the area.

However, one interesting story popped up about a group trying to bring the ECHL to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labarador of all places. Since the St. John’s IceCaps are no more after Montreal moved their AHL operations to Laval, the Mile One Centre has been bare. There are two groups trying to get hockey back to the area, though– one of which is trying to get the QMJHL back into the arena, while there’s a second group looking to get the ECHL into the area. In fact, it seems that Dean MacDonald, the man heading up the ECHL St. John’s effort, thinks that he could ice a team in the ECHL for 2018-19 if all goes to his plan…which seems really quick and really quiet for all involved.

This story has had some rumors come out of it, but it’s never really taken serious considering how much of an outpost that St. John’s has been when it comes to minor league hockey. The fan base there is second to none when it comes to support, but at the same time, even with the Northeast expansion the ECHL has had– St. John’s would still be over 1,200 miles away from their closest competition, the newly-minted Maine Mariners. That’s been the problematic part with St. John’s being in the AHL and possibly the ECHL.

In all honesty, the QMJHL makes sense since there is a Maritime Division and there would be much closer rivals. Not only that, but the QMJHL could bring a little better profit with the shorter distance to travel, less player payment, and probably better turnout for hockey. The ECHL seems like something that would be lost on Canadian fans. There’s only one team currently in Brampton and only two in the history of the league– lest we forget the Victoria Salmon Kings.

Yet, the fact that focus is on the ECHL shows that there’s a really good business model that owners want to get into. Sure, the lack of other leagues help– but there hasn’t been much of anything to say that the ECHL doesn’t have the best model to go by. That’s one of the reasons why the Utah Grizzlies haven’t jumped ship back to the AHL and that’s due to how the ECHL works out for them dollars and sense-wise.

While we patiently wait for Reno and eyebrow-cock St. John’s, the fact that more people want to get into the minor league hockey business is a good problem to have for the league looking to keep growing from their 27 teams right now.