Thursday, May 15, 2014

Indy hockey links & updates

A few links and news items with ties to hockey in Indianapolis.

  • There's one more weekend of hockey at Pan Am Pavilion, as the Ice host Waterloo in Games 3 and 4 of the Clark Cup Final. The series is tied 1-1. Puck drops at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday night.
  • The Ice had two players - Denis Smirnov and Tim Shoup - named to the USHL's All-Rookie Team.
  • Ice alumni updates
    • Former Ice player Nick Bailen is headed to the top league in Europe. He signed a one-year deal with the Kontinental Hockey League's Dynamo Minsk earlier this week. Bailen had been playing in Finland (the link is in Finnish, you'll need to run it through a translator). 
    • Former Ice coach Jeff Blashill is considered to be a hot commodity for the numerous NHL coaching vacancies, but Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland doesn't want to allow him to interview for other teams. Blashill led the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's top farm team, to the AHL Calder Cup title last season, and the Griffins are in the second round of the AHL playoffs this year. 
  • A few updates from the ECHL, where the Indy Fuel will compete next year, thanks to the always-outstanding work of Blake Sebring in Fort Wayne. According to the News-Sentinel, the league is exploring some tweaks to its postseason. Right now, the ECHL has conference-only playoffs (with 13 teams in the East and 8 in the West, the latter being the remnants of the old West Coast Hockey League, with very limited crossover play in the regular season), with the top eight teams qualifying in each conference. The future could see some crossover play between two conferences, since all eight West teams are currently guaranteed playoff spots. Also, commissioner Brian McKenna talked about exploring new divisional alignments and - if one checks out his last quote in the story - hinted at NHL-style playoff series that emphasize divisional play. Currently, the ECHL's Eastern Conference has three divisions -- one with three teams, two with five -- and two four-team divisions in the Western Conference. All are aligned geographically. In the current alignment, the Indy Fuel would become the sixth team in the North Division with Cincinnati, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo and Toledo.
  • It is being widely reported that the USHL will have a new commissioner this fall, as Bobby Fallen - the father of former Cedar Rapids player Tommy Fallen, and an executive with Reebok - takes the top spot. He replaces Skip Prince, who is becoming an assistant athletic director at the University of Texas.  
  • The Boston Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday night, but former Indiana Ice captain Torey Krug was instrumental in the Bruins' success. After a 41-point regular season in helping the Bruins capture the President's Trophy, Krug led the Bruins in playoff scoring, with two goals and eight assists. 
  • The Bruins' ouster means there's still one person with local ties competing in the playoffs -- Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who coached the Ice to the 1990 Turner Cup championship.
  • More players with Indy ties are in the playoffs in other leagues. 
    • Carmel-born Zach Trotman is a defenseman, playing for former Indianapolis Ice player & coach Bruce Cassidy with the Providence Bruins. They trail Wilkes Barre-Scranton 2-1 in the best-of-7 AHL Eastern Conference semis. As noted, Blashill's Grand Rapids Griffins are in the AHL Western Conference semis, tied with the Texas Stars at two games apiece.
    • In the ECHL, former Ice Mike Embach had an outstanding playoff for the Fort Wayne Komets, but he and Joe Hartman (another former Ice player) fell to Cincinnati in six games in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semis. They were the only players out of several ex-Ice in the ECHL to advance past the first round. Embach had four goals and five assists in 11 playoff games. Hartman also played in all 11 postseason games for the Komets. 
    • In the CHL, former Ice player Sebastien Geoffrion's Arizona Sun Dogs advanced to the conference final, but fell to the Denver Cutthroats. Geoffrion had one playoff goal.

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