Saturday, January 15, 2005

Updates from Other Leagues

Since the NHL is still on lockout status and is in jeopardy to be canceled for the entire season, I thought that I'd make a post for all of you who might be interested in hockey from other leagues. You can get an update of the European Czech and Slovak Leagues from my friend Jes Golbez' Hockey Rants and Sharkspage for the west coast hockey action!

According to a Yahoo! Sports article, the minor leagues are getting an attendance boost from the NHL lockout. The hockey fans are still wanting to watch hockey even if it's not the pros.

  • American Hockey League: The AHL, the top minor league system to the NHL pros, is the best bet to get at least some great quality hockey moments. It's just ending the first half of the season. The teams in first place are Manchester (LA Kings) 27-7-3-1, Philadelphia (Flyers) 24-10-2-3, Manitoba (Canucks) 26-10-1-2, and Milwaukee (Predators) 23-10-2-1. The All-Star Classic hosted by Manchester will be on the 13th and 14 of February. Some additional notes: My Penguins are in 4th place in the East with Albany River Rats in last place. For a franchise with a lot of drafting talent depth, I'm surprised at the Rats doing so poorly. There are 2 teams, Lowell and Houston that are currently holding 2 franchises as their affiliates. This will be the last seasons of AHL hockey in Worcester and St. John's PEI, as the IceCats will be moving to Peoria, IL and St. John's will move to Toronto.
  • ECHL: Billed as the "Premier AA Hockey League" of the NHL this league has been the first successful league to promote hockey in the southern USA. With teams like the New Orleans Brass and the Florida Everblades, it's a wonder why the NHL is struggling in that area. The teams in this league in first place are Pensacola (Tampa Bay) 20-9-3, Pee Dee (independent) 20-12-2, Atlantic City (Philly) 20-8-5 and Bakersfield (independent) 22-9-5. Other league notes: As an expansion team Victoria has had a real miserable go at things. They've won only 7 games this year. NJ Devils superstar Scott Gomez plays for his home state Alaska Aces while waiting out the lockout.
  • Canadian Hockey League (Juniors): The CHL is an organized way of promoting junior hockey throughout North America. The Ontario Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League are the leagues fighting for the Memorial Cup. These players are the young stars that are still going to school, but are waiting to be eligible to be drafted by the NHL teams every spring. Instead of listing every division leader I'm just going to do the three top teams. The best team in the OHL is the London Knights who have lost and tied only twice this year! In the WHL, the Seattle Thunderbirds have a 30-11-0-1 record. The Quebec League has the Moncton team 29-12-4-1 on the year.
  • United Hockey League: A league focused on promoting hockey within the North Eastern US and Eastern Canada, this league is where a lot of players go when they can't crack the NHL lineup or use it to get noticed for a career. The Adirondak Frostbite is owned by ESPN's Steve Levey and Barry "the cackle" Melrose. The teams in this league in first place are Danbury 25-3-1, Muskegon 24-10-5, and Rockford 25-9-5. Other notables: The Danbury Trashers has a logo with a trashcan on it.
  • ACHA: The American Collegiate Hockey Association is the league that Universities with hockey clubs or arenas that just aren't big enough to be a NCAA team. My Penn State Nittany Lions have dominated the league for a long long time winning the National Title Tournament 7 times in 10 years. The ACHA is also organized with even smaller schools in a Division II and a Division III format. Also, the ACHA is a governing body for womens university hockey. In Division 1, Team USA is in Austria playing in the world University games. Rhode Island is currently ranked #1 in this division. In Division 2, where they are ranked regionally, IUP and Penn State 2 are in second place.
  • PIHL
  • : The PIHL stands for Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League and is the governing body for all high school hockey clubs. I've kept a close eye on this since they've taken the time to post the box scores in my hometown paper. There are too many teams to highlight here, but if you check out their PIHL website you can look for schedules and stats there.

So, that's my update on hockey in my general region. I hope that without NHL hockey the fans can gain interest in other leagues and support them!
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