Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Indy hockey-related links 5/28

A cornucopia of links related to Indianapolis hockey.

  • A couple connections in the Western Conference Final. The Chicago Blackhawks, obviously, are the Indy Fuel's parent club. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter coached the Indianapolis Ice to the 1990 Turner Cup championship. 
Indy Fuel/ECHL
  • Scott Hillman was named the Fuel's first coach on Tuesday. He comes to the Fuel after five seasons in the CHL with the Missouri Mavericks, and two championships prior to that in the SPHL with Knoxville. Player recruitment will likely come later, as the ECHL season is still ongoing, and players who played in the ECHL & AHL this season do not become free agents until June 15.
  • Speaking of the ECHL, the Kelly Cup Playoffs are going on as we speak. The Cincinnati Cyclones clinched a spot in the final, beating Greenville 4 games to 2. The Alaska Aces clinched the other spot, beating Bakersfield 4-2 in the Western Conference Final. The best-of-7 final begins Friday with three games in Anchorage before shifting to Cincinnati. for games June 6, 7 and 9 (the latter 2 if necessary).
  • The ECHL is likely headed for some playoff realignment next year, as the Las Vegas Wranglers were unable to secure a place to play for 2014-15 and will take the season off, but is set to return in 2015-16. That currently leaves seven Western Conference teams (two less than the start of 2013-14), and 14 Eastern Conference teams (with the Fuel bolstering the East by one team). This year, the top eight teams (out of 13) in the East and all eight remaining teams in the West competed in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The only crossover between conferences in this year's playoffs is coming in the Kelly Cup Final. It's possible that East teams could cross over and play West teams in the postseason in the future.
  • While the Indy Fuel are pretty secure in their affiliation with Chicago, there's quite a raging debate up north, where the Fort Wayne Komets are mulling over whether to be affiliated or not. The two newspaper columnists in Fort Wayne - veterans Blake Sebring and Justin Cohn give their takes. Fort Wayne was one of three independent teams in the ECHL this season. The ECHL is the highest level of hockey that features independent teams and rosters that include non-affiliated/minor league free agent players. As an affiliated team, the Fuel will have players under contract to NHL Chicago and AHL Rockford, as well as players contracted to the Fuel.
  • Abbotsford, BC was widely considered in hockey circles a possibility for western expansion -- its AHL team recently moved to Utica, NY -- but ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna said Abbotsford is currently not on the league's radar screen and the team roster is set in 2014-15, right now at 21 teams.
Indiana Ice/USHL

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