Monday, May 14, 2012

Leaving Coliseum leaves a lot of memories

I was a spry lad of seven years old -- it was the spring of 1983. Other than a few trips to Bush Stadium to watch the Indianapolis Indians, sports weren't really on my radar screen. Adjusting to a new school, figuring out how to write legibly (OK, I never quite mastered that one), enjoying some good tunes (sadly, "Elvira" was the song of choice for our second-grade class) and playing with my train set were the main orders of business.

But one evening, my dad and I jumped into the car and I had no idea where we were going.

By the time we returned home, a whole new world had been opened up to me.

Our car parked in the barns next to a big barn-looking building -- the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum. As we walked inside this huge golden structure, I saw something totally new -- a huge, gleaming white sheet of ice, surrounded by walls. Before too long, the PA announcer introduced these guys skating onto that gleaming rink in white, blue and orange as "YOOOOOUR INDIANNNNNAPOLIS CHECKERRRRRRRRRS."

Fans blew airhorns. The action was fast. The goaltenders' equipment fascinated me. The Checkers scored a ton of goals -- I vaguely remember the score being something like 7-2 as they beat the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. And every time they did, the place went nuts. My seven-year-old self had permission to yell and scream and dance and celebrate.

I'm not sure my mother was too happy we went out late on a school night to see a hockey game, but I was.

Suddenly, I couldn't get enough hockey. It was as if a whole new world had been opened to me. I took in everything -- loved the blue and orange uniforms (and although I soon became a Boston Bruins fan, I still have a soft spot for the New York Islanders because of those blue and orange uniforms), took in the names, listened to Rick Heliste broadcast every game I could listen to (fun side note: we would become neighbors later in childhood and had several opportunities to exchange pleasantries). Bruce Affleck, Darcy Regier, Kevin Devine, Kelly Hrudey, Rob Holland, Scott Howson, Paul Boutilier, Garth MacGuigan, Red Laurence, Charlie Skjodt, Ron Handy, Tim Lockridge -- those guys and their names became larger than life to me.

That place became a magnet to me -- even if my trips were infrequent for many years due to that pesky problem of being too young to own a car -- it was always a siren call. I'd stop by and watch horse shows at the Indiana State Fair, just to soak in the building. As a result, so did the game played there. From that night forward, I devoured hockey -- watched it on TV, learned its history, read every book I could find (which wasn't exactly easy in Central Indiana), listened intently as older family members took Nelson Skalbania's name in vain, found out why they did, found out that Wayne Gretzky began his career here, all the while finding out I wasn't supposed to root for him because the Edmonton Oilers were the bad guys to the cadre of Islanders fans in Indianapolis -- which seemed to be legion at the time (and, a decade later, the city was naturally teeming with Chicago Blackhawks fans for the same reason), devoured the history of the Stanley Cup, and of course, watched it get presented every year (or, well, every year until John Ziegler inexplicably gave the U.S. TV rights to SportsChannel America for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, thereby forcing me to follow my beloved Bruins on whatever stray radio broadcast I could find as they made multiple deep playoff runs in that time). It's why, as a visitor to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, I was as pleased to see the original Adams Cup on display as anything there, because of what it meant to me (and to my team) as a young hockey fan.

It helped that the Checkers were an atypical minor-league team, where the roster held together for virtually their entire five-year run. It also helped that they were a championship-caliber team.

I've been a part of the hockey scene in Indianapolis ever since -- as a fan, webmaster, historian, author, blogger, off-ice official, newspaper reporter, stats person and fill-in goal judge/video person/public address announcer -- but rarely do I see a game and not think of those teams, those nights as a seven-year-old spent in the Coliseum.

That old barn was built in 1939. Its first event was a hockey game -- the Indianapolis Capitals vs. the Syracuse Stars. It had received a few coats of paint since then, had most of the gigantic glass-block windows rimming the arena above the seats painted over (and, of all colors, brown). The center-hanging scoreboard had long since been replaced by the two boards that hung over the seats at center ice on either side -- I still remember the old FairPlay boards that had been installed for the Pacers whose clocks couldn't go higher than 19:59, so every period would start with 0:00 showing on the clock (and the Merchants Bank ad on one side, a Yellow Pages ad on the other).

It's probably best-known for non-hockey events -- most notably, and sadly, the fatal explosion in 1963 during an Ice Follies show. But it is also known as the home of the Indiana Pacers during their ABA glory days, hosting the Beatles in 1964, and hosting numerous presidential candidates in other years. One of my first dates with my wife was a non-hockey event at the Coliseum -- a Billy Graham Crusade rally/training session. Must be fitting.

But the Coliseum has always been, first and foremost, a hockey arena. It saw some of the game's greats -- Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall, Alex Delvecchio, Marcel Pronovost, Harry Lumley, Joe Turner -- pass through its gates in the early years. Luminaries like Eddie Shore and Johnny Bower played as visitors. Later on, Dominik Hasek, Olympic hero Ray LeBlanc and several NHL mainstays like Mike Stapleton, Keith Carney, Warren Rychel, Kellly Hrudey, Gord Dineen, Tony Hrkac and John Carlson would call the Coliseum home. From 1939 until the fateful Halloween explosion in 1963, it had hosted hockey teams in 21 of its first 25 hockey seasons. The Checkers brought hockey back in 1982, and it would share Market Square Arena with local hockey teams until 1998, when the Indianapolis Ice moved there permanently for what would become a 14-year run that spanned three franchises in three leagues. Indianapolis has claimed eight hockey championships -- the AHL Capitals in 1942 and 50, the IHL Chiefs in 1958, the CHL Checkers in 1982 and 83, the IHL Ice in 1990, CHL Ice in 2000 and USHL Ice in 2009 -- and all of those teams have called the Coliseum home.

The Coliseum is being gutted and completely rebuilt into a new, modern arena with a double-decked seating bowl, an elevated concourse between the two seating decks -- allowing for locker room areas to be separated from the fans. It will certainly be more comfortable for fans, media, players and, well, everyone else.

The Coliseum was never a beautiful arena -- it was a big barn with a low-slung seating bowl that went about halfway up, but was also built to accommodate a horse show ring, so it had an awkward outer wall that pushed the seats farther from the action, especially in the end zones. But, other than a few coats of paint, new seats from the RCA Dome and some new scoreboards, the interior hadn't changed much from the time it opened in 1939. It never had great sightlines. And the Ice did everything they could to accommodate media, scouts and game workers, with a small press area at the top of the seats for media and radio announcer, and a small crow's nest above each scoreboard for statisticians and video personnel that required a long climb up a metal staircase so steep, it was almost a ladder (and offered no view of any scoreboard, requiring the official scorekeeper to call down to rink level to get the clock time). The acoustics were notoriously poor, for years it had no air conditioning -- causing fog to form over the ice on warm nights.

But it was a charming building because of that. It was like your grandmother's living room -- a place where you always felt at home, where you always felt welcome. It has drawn me like a magnet for the better part of the last three decades, and while Market Square Arena might have been the perfect hockey building (with some of the best sightlines you'll see at any rink anywhere), the Coliseum was a unique one. The single concourse meant fans could interact with players or watch them start warming up. Every trip from the media room into the rink proper was met with smiles from the doorkeepers.

Last Sunday, May 6, 2012, we saw the final game ever at the "original" Coliseum. The Ice will move to Bankers Life Fieldhouse -- with a few games sprinkled in at Pan Am Plaza -- over the next two seasons, into an NHL-caliber arena with more amenities than a fan, media member or game worker could ask for.

And, while that final game wasn't what I remembered -- all the victories of my childhood were left with a close loss to a great Green Bay Gamblers team that finished with a goalmouth scramble that nearly led to the game-tying goal for the home team -- it was a memorable evening. At previous games over the last few weeks of the season, I soaked in the building one more time, taking pictures of the long stairway into the crow's nest that I had climbed many times, the views of the rink from all angles, the concourses and more. But this time, the memories came back. I sat rinkside as the game ended, looked up and spotted the general spot where my father introduced me to this great game. I closed my eyes and saw Darcy Regier patrolling the blueline, Garth MacGuigan and Red Laurence scoring goals, Kevin Devine winning a fight. As my voice billowed through the arena, wishing fans a safe drive home, my path out of the rink took me to the spot where I remembered walking in during a 1984 game that I had begged my parents to take me to, because Kelly Hrudey was back in Indy on a rehab assignment. The Tulsa Oilers' goaltender was John Vanbiesbrouck. Both would play many years in the NHL, and both would lead their teams to the Cup final. I still remember that game being a well-played 3-3 tie, and remember walking into the rink and seeing -- through one of the openings at rink level from the concourse -- Vanbiesbrouck make a save as we belatedly walked into the arena and headed down the aisle to take our seats.

I remembered Nathan Perrott scoring an OT goal for the Ice in 1999 at the far end of the rink, giving a team that had gotten hot at the right time just to get into the postseason a shot to win its first playoff series in nine years (and, at the same end, remembering the sinking feeling that we had when Stan Drulia scored off a turnover to eliminate the Ice and end their final IHL season). Looked over at the end boards behind the west net and saw Tulsa's Doug Lawrence spread-eagled across the exit door, not allowing the linesman to escort him out in a crazy 300+ penalty minute third period of a clinching Ice victory ... and how Jamie Morris was a brick wall during that entire championship run ... the din of 6,003 fans through my radio when the Ice clinched the Turner Cup in 1990, and sitting in my bed (couldn't convince the parents to go on a school night) and pumping my fists in the air as our team had won a title. I looked across the ice at the bench one more time to see where Charlie Skjodt, one of the architects of those early games that hooked me on hockey as a youth, was now coaching the newest generation of hockey players.

Today, I often bring my 5-year-old son to Indiana Ice games, and he is already becoming a fan. His fandom will likely include a new Coliseum, which will be very spiffy in time for its 75th anniversary, and his memories will likely involve a host of new names.

A lot of memorable players graced that ice. But there will always be a soft spot for those early 1980s Indianapolis Checkers and the barn they called home for turning me on to this great game and creating a lifelong fan.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ice add 5 in USHL Futures Draft

Here is the rundown of the Indiana Ice's 2012 Futures Draft picks. They went defense-heavy, using their first two picks on defenseman, and also bringing in a tendered defenseman. Jake Evans, a two-way forward from Toronto, is the third-round pick. The Ice also picked another big goaltender to replace Jon Gillies -- 6-foot-5 Edwin Minney. Two of the picks are Canadians -- Jake Evans from Toronto and Luca Leone from Vancouver.

Round 1: 5th overall: Adam Baughman, D, Chicago Mission. DOB 1/3/96. Had 3 assists, 10 PIMs in 22 games in the High Performance Hockey League. Big defenseman, 6-2, 175 pounds. Played for the U.S. in the Youth Olympic Games. Slightly Chilled's Ryan Clark called him one of the defenseman to watch in this year's draft. He is a Chicago native.
Round 2: 20th overall: Blake Siebenaler, D, Cleveland Barons. Had 9 goals and 21 points in 64 games this season.
Ice regular pick was used to tender D Josh Jacobs, 6-2, 171 pounds, 2014 Michigan State commit. From the Honeybaked U16 program. 17 points in 24 games with in the HPHL. 2/15/96 DOB. Also played in Youth Olympic Games.
Round 3: 34th overall: Jake Evans, C/RW, Mississauga Rebels (Ont). Toronto native, also picked by the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, but has told OHL teams he plans to go the NCAA route. Notre Dame commitment. 6-1, 150. DOB: 6/2/96
Round 4: 56th overall: Edwin Minney, G, D.C. Capitals. Played for U.S. in Youth Olympic Games this year. 2.43 GAA. Another big goaltender -- 6-5, 194. DOB 3/29/96, from the Poconos area of Pennsylvania.
Round 5: no pick
Round 6: 86th overall: Luca Leone, Shattuck St. Mary's U16. Vancouver native, right-shot forward, had 9-25-34 line in 45 games for Shattuck this year. 6-0, 180. DOB 2/24/96.

Futures draft

The USHL Futures Draft is slated to begin at 7 p.m. tonight. The Futures Draft allows teams to pick the top 1996 birth year players in North America. The draft follows a serpentine format, so the team that picks at the top of the odd-numbered rounds (Omaha) will pick last in the even-numbered rounds, and vice-versa.

Ice picks
1st round: 5th (5th overall)
2nd round: no pick (used tender)
3rd round: 5th (27th overall)
4th round: 11th (44th overall)
5th round: no pick (traded to Sioux City)
6th round: 11th (74th overall)

Let's take a quick peek at last year's Ice Futures Draft haul (1995 birthdates, so all players will be 17 years old at the start of the season).
Round 1: Justin Bailey, C, Williamsville, NY. Opted to play in New York this year with the Midget Major Long Island Royals, but did play two games with the Ice over the Christmas holiday and scored a goal. Committed to Michigan State University.
Round 2: Max Domi, F, Toronto. After visiting Indianapolis and making overtures about going the U.S. college route instead of Canadian major junior, the son of ex-NHLer Tie Domi instead was traded to the OHL's London Knights and signed with them. He had 49 points in 62 games this year with London.
Round 4: Jeremy Gregoire, C, Sherbrooke, PQ. A very strong center who came to the Ice's Main Camp last June, but opted to sign with Chicoutimi in the QMJHL. He had 30 points in 61 games this year.
Round 5: Anthony Florentino, D, W. Roxbury, MA. Committed to Providence College. Played this past season at South Kent School. Played a brief stint with the USNDTP U17 team to play in a tournament in Slovakia. His high school coach is Eric Soltys, who briefly played goal with the CHL Indianapolis Ice.
Round 5: Tyler Kelleher, RW, Longmeadow, MA: Opted to go to the USNDTP this year. With 17 goals and 30 points in 36 games, Kelleher was the U17 team's leading scorer in USHL games. USNDTP players make a two-year commitment, so it is likely Kelleher will be back in the stars & stripes next year. New Hampshire commit.
Round 6: Patrick Fraser, G, Franklin, MA: Goaltender who has been to the USA Hockey national team goaltending camp. He backstopped the Cape Cod Whalers to a semifinal appearance in the U18 Midget national tournament.

Of these, Domi, Gregoire (both Canadian Major Junior) and Kelleher (USNDTP commitment) have made commitments for next year. We will keep an eye on the others as Main Camp approaches.

We're back!

Lots to catch up on, but after a two-and-a-half month hiatus brought on by work pressures (read: no time to update :) ), we're back and going to start posting on a regular basis again. 

We'll have coverage of the Ice in the Eastern Conference Finals, the 2012-13 schedule and, of course, the drafts. 

First the ECF: 
After sweeping Dubuque 3-0, the Ice take on the top-seeded Green Bay Gamblers in a matchup of the USHL's top two teams. 
The series begins Thursday and Friday in Green Bay. The Ice will host games 3 and 4 Sunday at 5 p.m. and at 7 p.m. Monday. Game 5, if necessary, would be Wednesday 5/9 in Green Bay. 

Tonight is the Futures Draft. A look at the draft in the next post. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bucs snap Ice win streak

The Des Moines Buccaneers ended the Indiana Ice's two-game win streak Friday night with a 4-3 victory over the Ice in Des Moines.

Des Moines scored three goals in 5:04 of the second period to turn a 2-1 Ice lead into a 4-2 deficit, and the Bucs were able to hold off an Ice charge in the third. The Bucs peppered Ice netminder Dalton Izyk with 27 shots in that game-turning second period, outshooting the Ice 27-7 in the frame and 47-40 for the game.

Each team had two power play goals as special teams factored in largely. The Ice were 2-for-6 on the power play, the Bucs 2-for-7. The Ice had four third-period power plays in a comeback attempt -- including a 6-on-3 in the final 23 seconds as Des Moines had two in the penalty box and Izyk was pulled for the extra attacker.

Anthony Greco and Gaspar Kopitar scored at even strength at 10:14 and 13:23 of the second, with Justin Hussar getting the first assist on each goal. Hussar also scored on the power play in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Luke Voltin -- who started the year with the USNTDP -- scored the eventual game-winner on the power play at 15:18.

Defenseman Ryan Obuchowski scored twice for the Ice, both on the power play. He got the scoring started at 11:57 of the first, and then tried to get the Ice back into it with a shot at 8:19 of the third. Jacob Fallon had the first assist on both goals. Robert Polosello also scored for the Ice at 5:00 of the second from Christian Hilbrich.

At 25-11-5, the Ice are in a second-place tie with defending Clark Cup champ Dubuque in the USHL Eastern Conference. Green Bay (68 points) has a 13-point lead on the division. The Dragons' road trip will continue Saturday night with a game at Omaha.

Next weekend will feature back-to-back nights in Muskegon. The next home game will be March 9 vs. Youngstown.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blog update

Just a personal note to our regular readers (thanks for reading!). We haven't gone away. Unfortunately, the last two weeks, we've had to dial back a little bit because of work and family-related demands on my time. I do this as a labor of love to promote the game I love in my hometown, both past and present.

The "today in history" posts and the pregame "Tale of the Tape" updates will resume shortly, possibly as soon as Saturday.

Thanks for reading!

Ice get weekend off to good start

In front of 11,949 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the annual Pack the House Night, Jon Gillies showed the season's largest crowd why he's one of the top draft-eligible goaltenders in North America.

Gillies stopped all 32 shots he faced to outduel Matthias Dahlstrom in what turned out to be a 2-0 Ice victory over the Chicago Steel.

The two goaltenders locked horns for the first two periods -- Dahlstrom stopped all 20 Ice shots in the opening 40 minutes, including 16 in the second period. Gillies made 17 saves.

The Ice's Kirill Lebedev -- a midseason pickup who was playing his fifth game as an Iceman tonight -- scored just 36 seconds into the third on a feed from Daniil Tarasov to break the ice.

With Gillies in net, it would be all the offense the Ice needed. He stopped all 15 shots he faced in the third, and Lebedev set up Tarasov for an empty-netter to seal it in the final minute. Ryan Obuchowski had the second assist on both goals.

The Ice improved to 24-10-5 with the victory and stayed two points ahead of Dubuque and Youngstown, who remain tied for third in the USHL Eastern Conference.

The shutout was Gillies' third of the year and sixth of his two-year USHL career.

The Ice are back in action Saturday at the Pepsi Coliseum against the Muskegon Lumberjacks. It will be their final home game before embarking on a long road trip.

3 stars
1. Jon Gillies (Ice) 32 saves, shutout, win
2. Kirill Lebedev (Ice), G, A, GWG, +2, 3 shots
3. Daniil Tarasov (Ice), G, A, +2, 8 shots

USHL boxscore

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two-point weekend: Ice fall in Dubuque

The Indiana Ice completed a pivotal weekend against two of the Eastern Conference's other frontrunners with two points -- beating first-place Green Bay in overtime on Friday, but they fell to the Dubuque Fighting Saints on the road tonight.

The teams have split four games, with the home team winning each this season.

The Ice lost 6-1 to the Fighting Saints. as Dubuque scored five times in the second period to put the game away quickly.

Six different Fighting Saints scored goals -- Jono Davis, T.J. Moor, Ty Lundey and Max Gardiner each had a goal and an assist.

Zemgus Girgensons -- the Dubuque star and one of the league's most dynamic players -- scored on a beautiful play with 4:50 left in the first, but the game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes as Robert Polosello scored on assists from linemates Jacob Fallon and Christian Hilbrich just 59 seconds later.

The Ice were outshot 14-6 in the opening period, but things stayed tied.

They wouldn't be for long -- Davis and Eric Freschi scored 1:48 apart in the second period to give Dubuque a 3-1 lead in the first five minutes of the middle frame. That chased Ice starter Jon Gillies. But backup Dalton Izyk would fare no better -- Moor, Lundey and Gardiner scored in the span of 11:19 on three of the 11 shots aimed at Izyk, and Gillies returned to the nets to close out the game.

By then, the Ice trailed 6-1. There would be no further scoring, as the Ice were outshot 34-15 in the first two periods, and 43-22 for the game.

Dubuque was 1-for-6 on the power play. The Ice were 0-for-3.

The Fighting Saints' victory, coupled with Youngstown's victory tonight, allowed both teams to pull within two points of the Ice. Indy is now 23-10-5 with 51 points -- nine back of Anderson Cup leader Green Bay. But Dubuque has 49 points, as does Youngstown.

The Ice will briefly return to friendly confines next weekend, hosting Chicago at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Pack The House Night on Friday. The Muskegon Lumberjacks visit the Pepsi Coliseum on Saturday night. After that, the Ice will play seven straight road games.

3 stars
1. Max Gardiner (Dub)
2. T.J. Moor (Dub)
3. Eric Freschi (Dub)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ice beat Gamblers!

Every win is a big one, but a road win in Green Bay is a huge one for the Indiana Ice to open a two-game road weekend.

Daniil Tarasov scored 36 seconds into OT to give the Ice a 3-2 victory over the league-leading Gamblers. The OT game meant the Ice gained one point on the Gamblers, who also got a standings point for the OTL.

The game was very cleanly-played -- only one penalty on each team, and all of the goals were scored at even strength.

Tarasov's goal was his 25th of the year and was assisted by linemate Sean Kuraly.

The two also hooked up for the game's first goal midway through the first, as Tarasov had the second assist (and Ryan Obuchowski the first) on Kuraly's 23rd goal of the season at 10:35 of the first. Green Bay's big guns -- Sam Herr and Alex Broadhurst -- answered at 11:49 and 14:58, but Kirill Lebedev, who joined the Ice in January, tied the game in transition with 1:28 left, assisted by R.J. Boyd and goaltender Jon Gillies.

Lebedev was playing in his third game with the Ice -- first since Jan. 21 -- and scored his second goal in those three games. 

The goaltenders -- Gillies and Ryan McKay -- dominated from there. Gillies stopped 24 shots, McKay 23 in the game.

One of the new defensemen acquired in Thursday's Alex Barron trade suited up, as Peter Hand skated and had a clean line -- no points, even +/-, no penalty minutes or shots. Trevor Owens, the other defensman acquired in the deal, did not dress. The Ice suited up Jose Delgadillo, Hand, Boyd, Obuchowski, Joe Fiala and Matthew Krug on defense. Of the six who dressed tonight, two were acquired in deals within the last few weeks and a third -- Boyd -- came in a trade over the summer.

Three stars (as chosen by the Gamblers)
1. Alex Broadhurst (GB)
2. Sam Herr (GB)
3. Nolan LaPorte (GB)

Seriously, who should've been the three stars
1. Daniil Tarasov (Ice), G, A, GWG
2. Sean Kuraly (Ice), G, A
3. Jon Gillies (Ice), 24 saves, holding GB's potent offense to two goals, and getting an assist of his own.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ice deal captain to Waterloo

Alex Barron, the Indiana Ice's captain, was dealt to the Waterloo Black Hawks today in exchange for two defensemen -- Trevor Owens and Peter Hand.

Both players are USHL vets -- Owens is in his second year, Hand his third.

Owens had two goals and five assists in 28 games, and stands 6-foot, 205 pounds. A 1993 birth-year player, he has a year of USHL eligbility remaining after this season. He also played 30 games for Waterloo last season and has three goals and six assists in his career. He is a plus-6 this year, and one of his two goals came on the power play. He has 33 PIMs in those 28 games. A native of Raleigh, N.C., he will wear No. 8 with the Ice.

Hand has skated in 126 USHL games with Chicago and Waterloo and has been one of the league's tough guys. He has two goals, 12 assists and 353 PIMs in his career. This season, he has five assists and led the Black Hawks with 69 PIMs. He was a minus-4. He stands 5-10, 185, and is a native of Schenectady, N.Y. He will wear No. 5 with the Ice. He is also a 1993 birth-year player, and therefore would have more USHL eligibility remaining.

Barron had three goals and 12 assists for the Ice in 36 games. He was a plus-17, and a plus-41 for his career. He has 3 goals and 26 assists in 87 USHL games, all with the Ice. He is in his final year of USHL eligibility and has committed to play at Quinnipiac University.

This is the fourth trade the Ice have pulled off this year mid-season with another USHL team -- acquiring Ryan Cole from Lincoln (who has since been dealt to the NAHL), swapping Cody Bradley to Dubuque for John Doherty, trading Alexander Kuqali to Sioux Falls in exchange for Jose Delgadillo and now the Barron for Owens/Hand deal.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A 1-1-1 weekend

The Ice finished a three-game, three-city weekend with a 1-1-1 mark after today's 6-2 loss on the road to the Green Bay Gamblers in a much-anticipated matchup of the USHL's top two teams.

Green Bay has been the top dog throughout the year, and so today's contest could've been seen as a statement game. Or it could be seen as what it was -- a road game for a team that had to travel from Indy to Muskegon to Green Bay in the span of 36 hours and play three games. What's likely is somewhere in-between. Green Bay again asserted itself as the USHL's top team, and the Ice continue to hold down the No. 2 position.

The upcoming stretch of road games will be key for the Ice to maintain that spot, which would grant them a first-round bye in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Today, the Ice fell behind 2-0 after a period and 4-1 midway through the second as the Gamblers tallied goals from four different goal-scorers -- Alex Broadhurst, Sheldon Dries, Nolan LaPorte and Grant Arnold.

Jacob Fallon scored unassisted 2:51 into the second and Woody Hudson buried a feed from Tyler Pham later in the period to cut Green Bay leads to 2-1 and 4-2 respectively. But the Gamblers got two goals in the first five minutes of the third to put the game away.

Jon Gillies made 27 saves in net, but was chased after 44:53 of time. Dalton Izyk stopped all four shots he faced later in the third period. Green Bay's Ryan McKay made 31 saves to get the win in goal.

USHL boxscore

The loss came on the heels of a 5-3 victory over Muskegon on Saturday in a game that was played at Muskegon, although it was technically an Ice home game. The game was moved due to Super Bowl festivities tying up both the Pepsi Coliseum and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Fallon, Sean Kuraly and Joe Fiala scored first-period goals, with Jose Delgadillo assisting on two and Kuraly also getting an assist for a two-point period. Fallon also ended up with a two-point night, as he assisted on Daniil Tarasov's power play goal midway through the second that put the Ice up 4-2.

Emil Romig added a key insurance goal on a feed from Ryan Obuchowski at 7:30 of the third to put the Ice up 5-3, and Izyk made it stand up. He stopped 30 shots, but only faced six in the third period due to the Ice's strong defense, to get the victory.

USHL boxscore

The Ice are now 22-9-5 after the weekend, 10 points back of first-place Green Bay, but four ahead of third-place Dubuque and Youngstown.

The Ice will be back on the road this weekend, traveling to Green Bay on Friday, then to Dubuque on Saturday. After a double-home weekend Feb. 10-11, they'll embark on a seven-game road trip.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ice fall in shootout

Moving downtown to kick off Super Bowl week, the Ice fell to the Chicago Steel 5-4 Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in a shootout.

The Ice did get a standings point and are now 21-8-5 overall and 10-1-3 in their last 14 games.

They salvaged the point as Robbie Baillargeon scored on the power play with 48 seconds left to tie the game. Chicago won it in the seventh round of the shootout on a goal by Charlie O'Connor.

The game saw a lot of action, with a combined 91 shots -- the Ice had a 47-45 shot advantage, with Chicago getting an extra shot on goal for the shootout win in the team total. The power plays were also active, as Chicago was 3-for-10 and the Ice were 2-for-6. Chicago also scored a shorthanded goal with 1:54 to go, which appeared to potentially be the game-winner before Baillargeon struck a minute later.

Ice goaltender Jon Gillies made 40 saves in the defeat. Sean Kuraly scored twice and Baillargeon added a goal and two assists.

Chicago's Andrew Miller scored on the power play early, but the Ice answered with two first-period goals, from Kuraly on the power play and Drew Smolcynski -- assisted by new Ice defenseman Jose Delgadillo, getting his first point as an Iceman. He and defense partner Joe Fiala were also both plus-2.

The Ice led 3-2 after two, as Chicago's Jeff Kubiak scored a power play goal midway through the period, and Kuraly answered three minutes later, chasing Chicago starter Matthias Dahlstrom.

A third power play goal by Chicago's Joel Benson at 3:05 of the third tied the game, setting the stage for the punch-counterpunch of the last two minutes. O'Connor -- who would score the shootout winner -- was sent off for tripping with 2:29 left, giving the Ice their sixth power play of the night. Miller scored shorthanded first, and then Baillargeon cashed in on the power play.

The Ice are back in action tonight at Muskegon -- a game that was moved from the Pepsi Coliseum due to rink availability with the Super Bowl. On Sunday, they head to Green Bay.

3 stars
1. Alex Sakerellopoulous (CHI), 19 saves, 1 GA, game-winning goaltender
2. Andrew Miller (CHI) 2 goals, PPG, SHG,
3. Robbie Baillargeon (ICE) goal, 2 assists, 8 shots

USHL boxscore

Today in history: January 28

January 28 in Indianapolis hockey history
1950: In his first game after returning from a callup to Detroit, Caps goaltender Terry Sawchuk goes nuts against a Pittsburgh fan who waves a white handkerchief at him. Terry slashes at the glass with his stick, skates a few feet, then comes back and hinges himself on the glass at the fan. He had to be restrained by his teammate.

Sean Williams: One of the great players to lace up skates and represent Indianapolis, Williams played four full seasons with the Ice from 1989-93. He played 320 games with the Ice in those years, He had 130 goals and 156 assists, setting the IHL team records in games played and all scoring categories. His best year was a 46-52-98 season in 1990-91. He had 27 regular-season goals to lead the Ice to a division title in 1989-90, then tallied eight goals and five assists as they bulldozed their way through the Turner Cup playoffs en route to a championship. He also got a two-game callup with the Blackhawks in 1991-92. Williams' rookie year was with IHL Saginaw in 1988-89 -- then the Blackhawks' top affiliate -- and he left the Ice to play in Europe in 1993. He returned to play two more years with IHL Minnesota. Williams' No. 9 was retired by the Ice -- the lone skater from the IHL era to be so honored. A native of Oshawa, Ont., he is 44. 
Martin Desjardins: Ice center from 1990-92, with 19 goals and 49 assists in 107 games. He also had two goals in the 1991 first-round series against the Fort Wayne Komets. He played three seasons in the Montreal organization -- including eight games with the Canadiens in 1989-90 -- before joining the Ice. After his Ice stint, he played in Europe for several seasons. A native of Sainte-Rose, Quebec, he is 45. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today in history: January 27

January 27 in Indianapolis hockey history
Hector Marini: "Hector the Wrecker" played for the Checkers in their first two seasons, from 1979-81. In 130 games, he had 44 goals and 71 assists, as well as 229 PIMs. Marini was a third-year pro by the time the Islanders moved their affiliation to Indianapolis. He had five playoff points with the Chex in 1980, but got the callup to the Isles by the end of the following year, and helped them win their second of four straight Stanley Cups. He was also with the Islanders for the 1982 title, although he did not play in the postseason. Marini joined the New Jersey Devils in 1982-83, and was chosen to play in the NHL All-Star Game, posting 45 points in 77 games that season. Marini totaled 73 points in 154 NHL games. He retired after the 1985-86 season, the result of an injury suffered when he was hit in the face with a slapshot. A native of Timmins, Ont., he is 55.
Jeff Rohlicek: Ice center in 1991-92. He had 25 goals and 32 assists in 59 games in a year split between the Ice and Phoenix. In total, he had 30 goals and 83 points that season. The Canucks' second-round pick in 1985, Rohlieck played nine NHL games with Vancouver from 1987-89, but played primarily in the  AHL/IHL. He had a 110-point season with Milwaukee in 1988-89, and scored the Calder Cup-winning goal with AHL Springfield in 1990. He retired after the 1997-98 season. A native of Park Ridge, Ill, he is 46.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today in history: January 26

January 26 in Indianapolis hockey history
1958: A double-hat trick for the Chiefs. Pierre Brillant and Bob Bowness each tally three goals in a 7-2 victory over the Toledo Mercurys.

Vic Lynn: A speedy winger, he played for the Capitals in 1943-44. He had four goals and five assists in 32 games. He made his debut with the Rangers, briefly, the previous year, and then came to the Red Wings during World War II. He had several callups to the NHL, and is the only player in NHL history to skate for all six Original Six teams. His best NHL season was in 1947-48, when he had 34 points with the Maple Leafs, for whom he played from 1946-50, and was part of the KLM line with Howie Meeker and Teeder Kennedy. He played in the NHL -- with a few stops in the AHL in-between -- through 1954, and then played senior hockey through 1963. He won three Stanley Cups in 1947, 1948 and 1949. A native of Saskatoon, he was born in 1925, and passed away in 2010.
Wayne Gretzky: A man who needs no introduction, "The Great One" famously began his pro hockey career in Indianapolis with a fledgling Racers outfit that would fold a couple of months later. Gretzky played eight games with the Racers, and scored his first professional goal at Market Square Arena against Edmonton's Dave Dryden. He had three goals and three assists with the Racers in eight games before being sold to Edmonton in a trade that also sent Racers Peter Driscoll and Ed Mio to the Oilers. He would finish that season with 46 goals and 110 points, and the highest-scoring career in hockey history was on. When the Oilers made the jump to the NHL the next year, Gretzky spent the next 20 seasons rewriting the pro hockey record books. He had at least 110 points in each of his first 14 pro seasons, and the number likely would've been 16 straight if not for an injury in 1992-93. He had eight straight 50-goal seasons at the start of his NHL career, with 92 goals and 212 points in 1981-82, 71 goals and 186 points the following year, and 87 goals and 205 points in 1983-84, the year the Oilers won their first of four Stanley Cups in five years with Gretzky. Two more 200-point seasons followed. After winning the fourth Cup in 1988, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, where he helped build hockey in Southern California during seven and a half seasons. He had an amazing playoff year in 1993, where he had 40 points in 24 games to lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals. He played briefly with St. Louis in 1995-96, then played his final three years with the Rangers before retiring in 1999, his 21st pro season. In 1,567 NHL/WHA games, he had 940 goals and 2,027 assists. His 2,967 points is a pro hockey record, as are the other marks. He also had 132 goals and 270 assists in 221 playoff games. He appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals six times, winning four in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. He was a nine-time Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP, 10-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the league's leading scorer, two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner as postseason MVP and five-time Lady Byng Trophy winner as the league's most gentlemanly player. Since retirement, he has been a team owner, coached the Phoenix Coyotes and has remained an ambassador for the game. A native of Brantford, Ont., he is 51.
Dean Malkoc: Ice defenseman for 62 games in 1994-95. Malkoc had four points and 193 PIMs in his stint with the Ice. He had played four years in the Devils organization before joining the Ice, then spent much of the next four years in the NHL with the Canucks, Bruins and Islanders. He had four points in 116 NHL games, as well as 299 PIMs. He is now a scout with the Boston Bruins. A native of Vancouver, he is 42.
Jason Selleke: Ice forward for three seasons, from 2000-02, then again in 2003-04. In 195 games, he had 48 goals and 69 assists, as well as 376 PIMs. In the interim, the Ohio State graduate played with UHL Fort Wayne. After leaving the Ice, he played six more years, five in the UHL and one in Italy. A native of St. Clair Shores, Mich., he is 34.
Jarrett Thompson: Amateur "playoff-only" signee for the Ice in 2001. He joined the Ice after his fifth year in the WHL, and played three playoff games. He played three years in the ECHL, split with two years in Canadian university play. A native of Calgary, he is 32.
Eric Miller: One of a handful of Hoosiers to play with the Ice, the Carmel resident played 50 games for the blue and white from 2004-07. He had 12 goals and nine assists, all but two of those points coming in 2006-07, when he played 31 games with the Ice. He also had six playoff goals in seven games as the Ice made a deep playoff run in 2007. Born in Villa Hills, Ky., he is 26.
Jay Clark: Goaltender who played 11 games for the Ice in 2005-06. He primarily played that year and the next in the NAHL, then played collegiately at Army. He finished his college career in 2011 as the Cadets' starting goaltender for three seasons. A native of Baudette, Minn., he is 25.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today in history: January 25

January 25 in Indianapolis hockey history
1956: The Chiefs set a dubious record – allowing 16 goals in a shutout loss to the Cincinnati Mohawks. The Mohawks’ 10 second-period goals remained an IHL record through the end of the league’s existence. Bob Lalonde was the goaltender, stopping 44 of the Mohawks’ 60 shots.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today in history: Jan. 22-24

Life intervened the last few days, so we got a bit behind on the Today in History posts. So, here's the last 3 days. 
January 22
1950: Pat Lundy scores four goals for his second time as a Capital in a victory over the Springfield Indians.
Greg Gilbert: Checkers winger for 24 games as a pro rookie in 1982-83. He had 11 goals and 16 assists in those games, and quickly earned a callup to the New York Islanders, where he had 19 points in 45 games and helped the Isles win the Stanley Cup. He actually got his name on the Cup the year before as a late-season callup from junior who played in four postseason games. He had 31 goals the following season, his first full year in the NHL, and played in 21 playoff games to help bring the Isles to the Cup Finals for the fifth straight year. Gilbert would go on to play 15 years in the NHL with the Islanders, Blackhawks, Rangers and Blues. He had 378 points in 837 NHL games. He won the Stanley Cup three times -- with the Isles in 1982 and 1983 and the Rangers in 1994. He also played in the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals with Chicago. He is currently the head coach of the OHL's Saginaw Spirit. A native of Missasauga, Ont., he is 50. 
Todd Carlile: Checkers defenseman in 1986-87, and also a member of the Ice in 1988-89, making him one of a couple of players -- joining Ron Handy -- who played for the Checkers/Ice franchise in both the final Chex and first Ice season. He had 11 goals, 40 points and 102 PIMs in 50 games as a Checker, and had five assists in four games in 1988-89. Those would be the only pro seasons for the former Michigan Wolverine. A native of St. Paul, Minn., he is 48. 
Chris Rogles: Ice goaltender from 1993-95. In 87 games, he was 28-42-8 with a 3.67 GAA, often playing alongside Christian Soucy. Rogles joined the Ice as a rookie out of Clarkson University, and played one more season in North America -- in both the IHL and ECHL -- before a long career in Europe. A native of St. Louis, he is 43. 
Marc Hussey: Ice defenseman from 1996-98. In 37 games, he had two goals and seven assists. He came to the Ice in a trade at the end of the 1996-97 season to help the team finish off a division championship season and join the playoff push, and then played 23 games with the Ice the following year before being dealt to Milwaukee. He played in the IHL/AHL through 1999, then played several seasons in Europe. A native of Chatham, N.B., he is 38.
Jon Gillies: Ice goaltender from 2010-12. He is one of the most-heralded draft-eligible netminders in the country. In the 2010-11 season, he set a club record for the longest scoreless streak. He was 15-6-2 with a 2.82 GAA in 2010-11 with three shutouts, and then took the starter's job the following year, where he vaulted to the top of the USHL in nearly every goaltending category. He is committed to play collegiately at Northeastern. A native of South Portland, Maine, he is 18. 

January 23
1947: The Capitals and Springfield Indians finish a game despite three power failures at the Coliseum. It was finished with “soft lights.” Springfield won 5-4 despite Cliff Simpson’s two goals.
1957: Pete Wywrot scores four goals in 8-5 Chiefs win over Fort Wayne, and yet gets overshadowed as Pierre Brillant sets a club record with six assists and adds a goal for a seven-point night.
Justin Lafayette: Ice center for 51 games in 1991-92. He had seven goals and 10 assists. The Ferris State grad played one more professional season in the ECHL. A native of Mississauga, Ont., he is 42. 
Dalton Izyk: Ice goaltender in 2011-12. He dressed for a couple of games in 2010-11, but did not play, and then joined the team full-time the following year, teaming with Jon Gillies in net. A native of Oswego, N.Y., he is 18. 
January 24
Benoit Cassan: Ice defenseman for eight games in 1999-2000. He had two goals for the Ice. He also played briefly with Macon and Memphis in the CHL that season, his lone pro season. A native of Gloucester, Ont., he is 34. 
Qamil "Charlie" Elezi: Ice winger for 61 games from 2000-02, playing three games in 2000-01, and 58 the following year. He had four goals, six assists and 223 PIMs with the Ice. He began playing professionally in 1998 with CHL Oklahoma City, then played four more years -- three in the UHL, one with OKC -- before retiring in 2006. A native of Warren, Mich., he is 35. 
Joel Whited: Ice forward for five games in 2006-07. He played most of that year -- and all of the following year -- in the Tier II NAHL, then played at Div. III Wisconsin-Stout. He is one of a handful of Hoosiers to suit up for a local hockey team. A native of Indianapolis, he is 25.