Thursday, July 17, 2014

We are moving!

The Indy Hockey blog is now the Indy Puck Report. Check us out at:

Older posts will remain here.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 17

Happy birthday to ...
Hank Therrien: Chiefs forward from 1959-62. He split the 1959-60 season between the Chiefs and Milwaukee, and the 1960-61 season between Milwaukee, Toledo and the Chiefs -- tallying 28 goals that season. He had 16 goals in 1961-62, the Chiefs' final season. He went from the Chiefs to play in the semi-pro USHL and tallied 33 goals in Green Bay the following year. He played for the United States at the 1966 World Championships. He retired after the 1967 season and coached small college hockey in Wisconsin. A native of Chapleau, Ont., he was born in 1934. He passed away in 2010 at age 76.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fuel roster starts with energy, character

When Scott Hillman became the Indy Fuel's head coach, he said he wanted a hard-working team that would be fun to watch.

So far, the five players signed to the team seem to fill exactly what he's looking for.

The Fuel have five players signed as part of a roster that will eventually number at least 20 by the start of camp in October (with 6-8 of those being from the Chicago Blackhawks' roster), and there's no secret they're following that personality.

Indy hockey link roundup July 16

A few links of interest to local hockey fans.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 16

Happy birthday to ...
Bob Whitlock: Racers left wing from 1974-76. In 103 games with the team, he had 38 goals and 41 assists, as well as 72 PIM. He was claimed by the team in the 1974 Expansion Draft and had a 31-goal season in 1974-75, and played half the following year with the Racers and the other half with their NAHL affiliate in Mohawk Valley. He finished out his eight-year pro career in the NAHL in 1977, and played senior hockey thereafter. He played one NHL game with the North Stars in 1969-70, and 244 NHL games from 1972-76, playing for the Chicago Cougars and Los Angeles Sharks in addition to the Racers. He had 81 goals and 98 assists in his major pro career. He is a member of the Prince Edward Island Hall of Fame. A native of Charlottetown, PEI, he is 65.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 15

Four birthdays today: former Racer Ralph Hopiavuori and former USHL Ice Glen Ylitalo, Anthony Bitetto and Tim Smith.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fuel to play two preseason games in Alaska

The Indy Fuel will play two preseason games in Alaska against the defending ECHL Kelly Cup champion Alaska Aces.

The games will be played at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage on Oct. 7-8 -- a two-game tuneup for the Fuel's Oct. 17 season opener against the Fort Wayne Komets.

This will mark the only meeting between the teams this year. The Fuel and Aces are not scheduled to play during the regular season, although they could meet in the Western Conference Final during the playoffs. The Aces won their third Kelly Cup title since 2006 last spring, beating the Cincinnati Cyclones -- whom they faced in the preseason doubleheader in Anchorage last year.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to take on the Aces in the preseason,” Fuel coach Scott Hillman said in a team release. “It will be a great test to play the defending champions and the trip will provide our team a good chance to bond before the season gets underway.”

Fuel release
Aces release

Indy's title teams: The 1942 Capitals

This is the 8th in a nine-part series looking at Indianapolis' championship-winning hockey teams. Previously: the 2009 Indiana Ice (USHL), the 2000 Indianapolis Ice (CHL), 1990 Indianapolis Ice (IHL), 1983 & 1982 Indianapolis Checkers (CHL), the 1958 Indianapolis Chiefs (IHL) and the 1950 Indianapolis Capitals (AHL). Next week: the 2014 Indiana Ice.  
Much was changing around the world as the 1941-42 hockey season approached. Pearl Harbor was a few days away, and many players would be called to military duty, causing great turnover in rosters and shortages of professional hockey players in North America - and claiming some lives.
And for the Indianapolis Capitals, there was a bit of an overhaul, too, as the team tried to rebound from a disastrous 1940-41 season in which the team went 17-28-11 and finished last in the AHL West.

The most obvious new face when the Caps convened in Detroit for training camp was that of goaltender Joe Turner, a teenager out of Windsor, Ont. with a stellar amateur record. He replaced Jimmy Franks, who had been the Caps' netminder for most of their first two seasons.
Franks was available, but Turner quickly proved his services wouldn't be needed.

Another Cap defensive mainstay - Archie Wilder - was called into the army before the season. More would follow as the United States entered the war in December.

Those that stuck around would put something special together. With Turner leading the way, the Capitals rolled to the AHL West title, survived a hair-raising first-round series with Springfield - which the Caps won in OT of the deciding game - and then brought home the Calder Cup, giving Indianapolis its first-ever postseason hockey championship.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 14

Three birthdays today: former Capitol Dennis Kassian & late former Capitals Bill Hudson and Don Morrison. Also, the Checkers roll out an ill-fated attempt to get into the NHL.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 13

One birthday today ... 
Kevin Conway: Right wing who played 29 games for the Checkers in 1986-87. He had 11 goals and eight assists. Conway played a bit in North America after finishing his junior career in 1984 -- playing for Toledo and Salt Lake in the IHL -- but in the interim, went to Britain and put up a 129-goal, 227-point season in 1985-86 (in 35 games!). He came back to Indianapolis the following year, and then headed back to Britain and put up video game-like numbers -- 148 goals in 1987-88, 107 two years later, 100 two years after that, followed with 87 and 64 goals. Conway also played for the British national team. Conway played in the UK through 2008, and is a member of the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. His son, Scott Conway, was the Clark Cup champion Indiana Ice's leading scorer in 2013-14. A native of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, he is 51.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Blackhawks' system, an update

The Chicago Blackhawks are set at the NHL level -- as of now, 23 players are on NHL contracts, the max. They'll have to make a couple of moves, as they're currently a couple million dollars over the NHL's hard salary cap, but it's worth taking another look at what's in the Blackhawks' system signed for this year.

The Blackhawks currently have 46 players signed for next season -- 23 on NHL contracts, 23 currently "non-roster players" or on minor-league deals (the maximum number allowed under contract to an NHL team is 50, but most teams start the season a few players under that amount to be able to sign players who age out of junior/graduate from college/college free agents at the end of the season). The Indy Fuel can expect to get about 6-to-8 players out of that group of 23. The CapGeek depth chart.

Take note, this is fluid. Trades often involve prospects going both directions, and the Blackhawks will likely sign players who have aged out of junior or college hockey at the end of the season, some of which we'll be likely to see in Indy.

Several of these players will be headed to the Blackhawks prospect camp this week. This post is focusing on the signed players. A post next week will update the unsigned prospects in the system whose rights the Blackhawks control -- the players still in junior, college or European hockey.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 12

On July 12, we celebrate two birthdays:
Happy birthday to: 
Pete Leswick: Right wing for the Capitals from 1944-46, with a pair of 29-goal seasons. He played 114 games for the Caps, with 58 goals and 91 assists. He was a Second-Team All-Star in 1945, and a First-Teamer in 1946 with the Caps. He also had three points in eight playoff games those two seasons. He came to the Caps after playing six years before the war in various minor leagues -- and one game for the NHL's New York Rangers. After he returned from the service, he played two games for the Boston Bruins, and went from Indy to a high-scoring career with the AHL Cleveland Barons, where he posted four straight 30-goal seasons. He was a six-time AHL All-Star. He retired after the 1952-53 season. His brother Tony would later make a mark in Indianapolis, coaching the short-lived Capitols team in 1963. A native of Saskatoon, Sask., Pete was born in 1917. He passed away in 2005 at age 88.
Chris Snell: Ice defenseman in 1996-97. He had a strong season from the blueline, with 22 goals and 45 assists in 73 games. He also had 130 PIM in helping lead the Ice to a division championship. He was named an IHL Second Team All-Star for his efforts that season. The Sabres' seventh-round pick in 1991, Snell played six pro seasons in North America, mostly in the AHL/IHL. He played 34 NHL games for the Maple Leafs and Kings, tallying nine points -- both of his goals were scored shorthanded. He played his last six seasons in Germany, retiring in 2003. A native of Regina, Sask., he is 43.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Commentary: Impact of new rules?

Like a lot of sports followers worldwide, I've been enjoying soccer's World Cup over the last month. The artistry, the high drama, the back-and-forth play, it's all been great. But there's one thing that's notable about soccer -- it never changes. Tactics might change, and a few tweaks might be thrown in here or there (like the yellow/red card system instead of verbal warnings), but change comes slowly.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 11

Six birthdays today: former Capital Bill Folk (87), Racer Rick Fraser (60), IHL Ice Travis Thiessen (42) & Dave Chyzowski (43) and CHL Ice Duncan Paterson (40), as well as the late former Capital Eddie Bush.

Midweek link roundup

A lot has happened in hockey the last few days. A ton of links below the jump:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Defenseman Anders Franzon joins Fuel

Anders Franzon (Photo provided by Indy Fuel)
The Indy Fuel continued to add to their roster Thursday, announcing the signing of defenseman Anders Franzon.

Franzon is the fifth player, and the first defenseman signed by the Fuel. He is a big puck-moving defenseman who stands 6-3 and a shade under 200 pounds. He played his rookie season for Fuel coach Scott Hillman last year, with 10 goals and 21 assists in 66 games for the CHL's Missouri Mavericks. He was the team's second-highest scoring defenseman.

"Andres is a steady defenseman that has a great ability to move the puck," Fuel coach Scott Hillman said in a release on Thursday. "He's coming off a strong rookie season, and given his steady, reliable play, we believe he has a bright future in professional hockey."

Franzon is a 25-year-old right-shot blueliner who hails from Plattsburgh, New York. 

Franzon also played four years collegiately at Vermont -- where he was a teammate of the Fuel's first signing, Pete Massar. He had four goals and 20 assists in 124 games and played a top-four defense role for the Catamounts. He was also a member of the Hockey East All-Academic team as a senior in 2013.

He's the third player who played for Coach Hillman with the Missouri Mavericks, joining Massar and center Kenton Miller.

"It was a great experience playing for Coach Hillman last season," Franzon said. "He's a determined, passionate coach that puts everything on the line to win every night."

Fuel release
Franzon's HockeyDB page
Franzon's University of Vermont profile
A "Getting to Know You" from the Lee's Summit Tribune

Today in Indianapolis hockey history: July 10

Five birthdays today: former Chief Monty Reynolds, IHL Ice Alain Nasreddine and USHL Ice Jay Cascalenda, Kyle Lundey and John Mitchell.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Commentary: Blackhawks' move stresses developmental system

The Chicago Blackhawks handed out a lot of money Wednesday afternoon -- $168 million, to be exact. That's just $7 million less than the United Center cost to build in 1994.

What it means is the two franchise's centerpieces -- Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane -- will be wearing Blackhawk sweaters through 2023. The two signed eight-year, $84 million extensions. Those will carry a $10.5 million annual cap hit -- an increase of $4.2 million each from the pair's current contracts.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 9

Five birthdays today: IHL Ice Steve Dubinsky and Marc Magliardti and USHL Ice Kyle Page, Christian Hilbrich and Matt Krug.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fuel add Kenton Miller, Garrett Klotz

The Indy Fuel have added two players to their roster, including their first veteran -- high-scoring center Kenton Miller and big, tough left wing Garrett Klotz. 

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 8

Five birthdays today: former Chief Len Ronson (78), IHL Ice Karl Dykhuis (42) & Glen Featherstone (46) and USHL Ice Adam Cardwell (27) and Mike Cichy (20).

Link roundup: Jim Waite back with Hawks & more

A few links from around the hockey world of interest to local hockey fans:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Indy's title teams: The 1950 Capitals

This is the 7th in a nine-part series looking at Indianapolis' championship-winning hockey teams. Previously: the 2009 Indiana Ice (USHL), the 2000 Indianapolis Ice (CHL), 1990 Indianapolis Ice (IHL), 1983 & 1982 Indianapolis Checkers (CHL) and the 1958 Indianapolis Chiefs (IHL). Next week: the 1942 Indianapolis Capitals.  
The 1948-49 season was one of change for the Indianapolis Capitals - and change for the better. With a new coach in Ott Heller and a host of new faces, the Caps were in the playoffs for the first time in three years, posted a 39-win season and re-established themselves as one of the AHL's elite teams.
1949-50 was a year to prove it.
The Calder Cup champion 1950 Indianapolis Capitals.

Most of the pieces were in place from the previous year. Terry Sawchuk, the AHL's Rookie of the Year in 1948-49, was rested, healthy and back for another tour in Indianapolis - thanks to future Hall of Famer Harry Lumley's presence in the Detroit Red Wing net. 

Gerry Reid was back. Fred Glover and Enio Sclisizzi would soon return from Detroit and reform the line that started the previous year on fire together. The Morrison brothers, who combined for 100 points as linemates, were back. Popular Nellie Podolsky, Englishman Al Dewsbury, big scorer Gordon Haidy, winger Pat Lundy, defenseman Benny Woit - all were back and ready to make a run at the Calder Cup. Newcomers were defenders Clare Raglan and future longtime NHLer Max Quackenbush, center Jim Uniac and wings Lyall Wiseman, Sam Mulholland and Doug McKay.

These Caps had something to prove. And the lineup to prove it with.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 7

Three birthdays today: IHL Ice Tony Hrkac, Richard Keyes and late former Capital Gerry Brown.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 6

Happy birthday to ...
Anders Kallur: Forward who played two games for the Checkers in 1979-80, compiling two assists. He came to North America after four years in the Swedish Elite League, and quickly went to the Islanders. He was part of four Stanley Cup champions and five Stanley Cup finalists during his six-year NHL career, playing 383 games and scoring 101 goals and 211 points. He also had 35 points in 78 playoff games. He and teammate Stefan Persson were the first European player to win a Stanley Cup. He is currently a scout with the Islanders. A native of Ludvika, Sweden, he is 62.
Kevin Herom: Left wing who played seven games for the Ice in 1988-89. He played 76 pro games, the majority with the AHL Springfield Indians the prior year. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Islanders in 1985. A native of Regina, Sask., he is 47. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 5

Happy birthday to ...
Ron Ingram: Racers coach for part of the 1977-78 season. The Racers went 16-31-4 under his tutelage before he was replaced with player-coach Bill Goldsworthy. He played 14 pro seasons, including 114 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Red Wings and Rangers, before retiring in 1970. He coached throughout the 1970s, winning championships in the EHL and NAHL. He was born in Toronto in 1933. He passed away in 1988 at age 54.
Byron Pool: Ice defenseman in 2002-03. He had seven assists and 118 penalty minutes in 46 games with the Ice. He also played in the WPHL and CHL with Monroe and Corpus Christi during a five-year pro career that spanned 1999-2004, which followed a four-year NCAA career at Colgate. He began coaching in 2007, and has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the USHL's Fargo Force. A native of Unity, Sask., he is 39.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day links: Rockford, Regier & more

Happy Independence Day!

A few links for you, with the Indy Fuel, legendary former Checker Darcy Regier landing in the Coyotes' front office, and some development camp news.
  • Former Checker Darcy Regier was hired as the assistant GM of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. Regier, who played five seasons for the Checkers and was their coach for much of the year in 1984-85, had previously spent 17 years as the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. He replaces another person with strong Indianapolis ties - Brad Treliving, who had played for the IHL Ice and was later commissioner of the CHL when the Ice played in that league. Treliving is now the Calgary Flames' GM. The Arizona Republic has more.
  • The Rockford IceHogs -- the Indy Fuel's AHL affiliate -- have signed a pair of players to AHL contracts in 29-year-old defenseman Zach Miskovic and 25-year-old forward Ryan Schnell. Both bring a measure of size and toughness to Rockford. And, as always, keep an eye on the IceHogs roster, as the Fuel anticipate 6-8 players being sent to Indy from the NHL & AHL affiliates in Chicago and Rockford.
  • IceHogs coach Mark Bernard discussed the organization's affiliation with the Fuel at a recent availability. "It's going to give us the ability to send a few more players down there if we want them to develop and work on certain things. I think they're going to be a fantastic organization in the ECHL. They've got a great coach in Scott Hillman, and we're excited to be partnered with them." Click below the jump to watch.

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 4

On Independence Day, we celebrate three birthdays: Capitals champion Joe Fisher, Racers legend Pat Stapleton and former IHL Ice player & NHL vet Michal Sykora. 

Commentary: Pan Am Pavilion leaves memories

The boards are gone, the scoreboard taken down, and soon, the walls will be coming down, too. The Pan Am Pavilion has closed its doors.

The Indiana Ice warm up for a game at Pan Am Pavilion.
Built in 1987 as a legacy of the city hosting the Pan Am Games, the two ice rinks and the adjacent plaza have stood as a monument to an event that really propelled Indianapolis into the national eye as a host of major sporting events. Regular visits by the NCAA Final Four, Olympic Trials, the Super Bowl and others have followed, but for those of us who were around, the Pan Am Games left a great legacy.

As a rink, it was built to be a participatory one -- the home of the Indiana/World Skating Academy (which relocated a year ago) and a downtown place for public skating and recreational hockey. It became, out of necessity, the part-time home of the USHL's Indiana Ice the last two seasons.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 3

Happy birthday to ...
Samu Perhonen: Goaltender for the Ice in the 2013-14 season. He was 2-2-1 with a 3.19 GAA in eight games with the team. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. A native of Jamsa, Finland, he is 21.

Fuel updates: Mascots, ticket plans, staff

A few updates from the Indy Fuel as they prepare for their first season.
  • The Fuel have introduced a half-season ticket that includes 18 of the 36 home games, including opening night Oct. 17 against Fort Wayne. Click here for info. Season tickets are now on sale. According to the team website, 9-game ticket plans will go on sale Aug. 1, and single-game tickets will go on sale Sept. 1.
  • The Fuel have introduced a dragon mascot, but are asking for your help. In July, anyone over age 13 can help name the dragon by going to the team's Facebook page, or via Twitter by tweeting @IndyFuel and using the #IndyFuelMascot hashtag, or via email at Also, those under age 18 can enter a coloring contest to color the Fuel mascot! Click to download the coloring page. For more, including rules, terms and conditions, click here
  • The Fuel have recently announced several game-night staff additions, including photographers John & Kelly Wikman, off-ice officials supervisor Dennis Weber, and the announcing team of Andrew Smith (public address) and Scott Alan (emcee).

Links: Free agent frenzy

Whew! A pretty crazy start to the free agent period has leveled off a bit, but NHL stars and other players are moving.

Among movement of interest to local hockey fans:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 2

Happy birthday to ...
Randy Burchell: Goaltender who played five games for the Racers in 1976-77. He was 1-0-0 with a 3.53 GAA. He played two seasons professionally, spending much of his time with the Racers' affiliate in Mohawk Valley. A native of Montreal, he is 59.
Ryan Huska: Ice center from 1995-98 and former captain. He played 188 games for the Ice, with 39 goals, 31 assists and 230 penalty minutes. He played one game in the NHL for the Blackhawks in 1997-98. He played five professional seasons after finishing his junior career as a three-time Memorial Cup champion in Kamloops in 1995. He played three years with the Ice and two with the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters. He began coaching in 2002 with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL, and has been there ever since, matriculating to head coach in 2007. He won the WHL's championship in 2009. He has a career coaching record of 303-164-37, including 109-29-8 the last two years. A native of Cranbrook, BC, he is 39.
James Kohout: Goaltender who played nine games for the Ice in 2004-05, going 1-4-1 with a 4.82 GAA. He played the next two seasons in the Tier III EJHL. A native of Acton, Mass., he is 27.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ECHL protected lists

The ECHL's teams have released their lists of qualifying offers. Players not on qualifying offers and unsigned become free agents available to sign with any ECHL team or any other hockey team. For reference, here are the end of season rosters.

One thing to note is the number of veterans who become free agents that the Indy Fuel (and other ECHL teams) can sign, as several players crossed the 260 professional game threshold to become veterans. Teams are allowed to sign up to four veterans, who often are core players and leaders of the team. Currently, the Fuel have 2 players on the roster -- both rookies, Pete Massar and Rhett Bly. 

What's notable is that a lot of teams rarely qualified their veterans (who become RFA). The teams retain the rights of qualified non-veterans for one calendar year. Not all teams used all eight qualifying offers. Players already signed do not have to be issued qualifying offers. Players on NHL/AHL contracts obviously do not have to be qualified, either, as they are property of the parent club. 

There have been a handful of affiliation changes this offseason so far besides the Fuel's affiliation with Chicago. 
Elmira: Buffalo (formerly New Jersey & Ottawa)
Indy: Chicago (expansion team)
Reading: Philadelphia (formerly Washington)
South Carolina: Washington (formerly Boston)
Toledo: Detroit (formerly Chicago & Detroit)

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: July 1

Happy Canada Day to our friends from north of the border. 
Happy birthday to ...
Harvey Fleming: A player who split the 1957-58 season with the Chiefs and Troy Bruins in the IHL. He started the year in Indianapolis and then went to Troy prior to the team winning the Turner Cup. He joined the Chiefs after playing two junior seasons in Flin Flon, Manitoba. He played two pro years, playing the following season in the Eastern Hockey League with Johnstown. A native of Elliott Lake, Ontario, he was born in 1931.
Justin Bailey: Right wing who played two games for the Ice in the 2011-12 season. He scored one goal in that stint. He went to the OHL's Kitchener Rangers the following year, and has scored 42 goals in 111 OHL games. He was picked by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft. A native of Williamsville, NY, he is 19.