Monday, 11 June 2007

Some UHL House Cleaning

In keeping up with the hockey seasons that are ending in the respective leagues, today I present the UHL's review. The United Hockey League's season ended on May 24, and the Rockford IceHogs are going out in style. As I have mentioned, the IceHogs are joining the AHL next season, and they took home the Colonial Cup Championship over the Kalamazoo K-Wings. However, there are more moves than just the IceHogs.

The Chicago Hounds have decided to fold due to the lack of a reasonable lease with its home venue, the Sears Centre.

"It is a shame that the Hounds have to close down. I really believe that with reasonable rent and good home dates, the Hounds could have been a very successful franchise," stated Craig Drecktrah, Chicago Hounds Owner. "I would like to thank the fans that did come and support us as well as the Hounds’ staff for all of their hard work and dedication this past year."

"It is unfortunate that a reasonable lease agreement could not be reached between the Hounds and the Sears Centre. However, I understand the position of the ownership because the venue was offering rates that were four times higher than the highest rent in the league," stated Paul Pickard, UHL Chairman of the Board of Governors. "The league would never want to have an owner put its member club in peril with such a financial burden. I applaud Craig Drecktrah for the passion and decision making that he has shown while leading the Hounds."

That's not all. Another team is going, going... almost gone as well.

The Port Huron Flags is ceasing operations for the time being as well. Current ownership chose not to move forward with the operation of the franchise.

"We regret that we were not able to go on further with the Port Huron Flags hockey team, but we are happy that there are continued negotiations with others to keep the Flags in Port Huron for the upcoming UHL season," stated Charlie Barrett, Port Huron Flags Chairman of the Board.

"The league owes a lot to Charlie Barrett and the group of civic minded individuals that kept the Flags going the past two years," stated Richard Brosal, UHL President and CEO. "They have allowed us the time to find new ownership that can hopefully be announced in the next couple of weeks."

The UHL is hopeful that an announcement of a new ownership group can come as early as next week to keep the Flags in Port Huron.

The UHL will commence its 17th consecutive season of play this October. In addition to the moves and contraction of teams, the Board of Governors is reviewing additional applications for entrance into the league as well.

I might as well end this with some good news. Well, congratulations go out to the Fort Wayne Komets who were honoured as the UHL's Member Club of the Year as selected by the Board of Governors.

The Komets finished the regular season with a 51-21-4 record, a Western Conference Title, their fifth-straight Colonial Cup Playoff appearance and the Tarry Cup, awarded to the league’s best team. The Komets led the league in wins with 51, home wins with 27, road wins with 24 and a 20.1% power play conversion rate. Fort Wayne also allowed a league-low 187 goals and set a club record with the second-best penalty kill in the UHL at 87.4%. There were six different skaters who scored 20 or more goals during the regular season and six skaters who had 50 or more points.

Several players also set records and earned postseason accolades this year. Kevin St. Pierre, the Southern Sports Supply UHL Goaltender of the Year, set several records this season including most appearances in goal by a Komets UHL goaltender with 64 appearances, and the franchise record for shutouts with 23. In addition, he extended his UHL record for career shutouts with 26. Guy Dupuis, UHL Defenseman of the Year, ranked first among defensemen and seventh in the league with 11 goals and 65 assists for 75 points. His 65 assists were the second-highest total in the league, and he led the UHL with 39 power play assists. In addition to St. Pierre and Dupuis, center J.C. Ruid and defenseman Mario Larocque were named to the UHL All-Star teams.

"Off the ice, the club continued to make significant contributions to their community. The Komets donated over $7,000 to Fort Wayne area non-profit groups with the proceeds from game worn jersey raffles and the Komets prize wheel. The club also helped those in need this season. They helped bring in 20 barrels of non-perishable food items for the needy in the Fort Wayne area, and they partnered with the U.S. Army Reserves to bring in more than 30 barrels of personal items and groceries for members of the U.S. military stationed over seas. On Feb. 3, the Komets also held their annual Comcast Report Card Night where local students got free tickets with their 'A's'."

"The Komets led the UHL in regular season attendance with 288,375 fans visiting Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Their per-game average of 7,588 fans was the seventh-highest in professional minor league hockey. Fort Wayne also hosted the successful 2007 UHL All-Star Classic." It is the fourth time that the Fort Wayne Komets have earned UHL Member Club of Year honors, also winning in 1999-00, 2001-02, and 2002-03.

*Disclaimer: I have waited for close to a week for the Elmira Jackals franchise to respond to me by email in regards to posting the images of their new logo and jerseys. I am now posting them due to their lack of a response by email. To any staff of the Elmira Jackals that may read this, please get in touch with me as soon as possible. Thank you.*

There has also been a jersey and logo redesign for a former UHL franchise. The Elmira Jackals have changed their logo from this to this. It marks the first time in Jackals' franchise history that the logo has been significantly altered. The home and road jerseys will also look different than what they did last season.

"We want to create a new era of Elmira Jackals success as we enter the ECHL," said Jackals President Tamer Afr. "We are continuing to raise the bar following our investment in the ECHL and to do that we have to completely revamp how we do things. With a new league, a new coach, a new team and a new look we are creating a fresh and exciting Jackals team and organization that will continue to make our fans proud."

I like the new jerseys, and they are fairly appealing to the eye. The logo is an upgrade from the previous one, and giving the Jackal's face a meaner expression adds to the fierceness the team is trying to portray.

All in all, a busy offseason looms in the UHL. Good luck to both the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL and the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL in your new leagues! Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

- with files from and

No comments: