Better Know An Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks

AHL: Rockford IceHogs (35-31-4-6, 7th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: Since 2007, the IceHogs have been serving their in-state parent as their primary affiliate, though the Blackhawks had a tendancy to use other leagues over the AHL for their primary affiliate. Aside from Rockford and previous to them, the Norfolk Admirals; the Hawks used teams in the IHL like the Indianapolis Ice and Saginaw Hawks, as well as teams in the CHL– including the Dallas Black Hawks and St. Louis Braves as their primary affiliates from the 1960s until 2000. They had spot AHL affiliations with the Portland Pirates (1998-99), Nova Scotia Oilers (1985-87), Springfield Indians (1982-84) and New Brunswick Hawks (1978-82). Before that, the Buffalo Bisons were their AHL affiliate from 1954 until 1966. With being an “Original Six” team, the Hawks had many amateur teams in the beginning, as well as teams from the WHL and USHL when they were pro leagues.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: While a change of scenery could be a good thing, Alex Nylander may be on the shuttle plenty with his new squad, as he did get better in his second AHL season opposed to his first. Nylander will be in a fight with Dylan Sikura, who himself is in a make-or-break season– as he was a shuttler last season during the Hawks rough season of injury. Collin Delia is the obviously choice depending upon Corey Crawford’s health.

ECHL: Indy Fuel (35-32-2-3, 5th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: While the Fuel have been the secondary affiliate for the Blackhawks for five seasons, the length of their secondary with the Toledo Walleye (2009-2014), the times before that were very one-and-done for the Hawks and secondary affiliates. The Fresno Falcons, Greenville Grrrowl, Pensacola Ice Pilots, Roanoke Express, Jackson Bandits, and Hampton Roads Admirals were their all their secondary affiliates from 1999 until 2009.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: Delia has been the standout graduate of this young franchise, making his presence known with the Hawks last season, while the only other notable would be Justin Holl– who started his career in Indy before leaving the Hawks organization to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maryland Pro/Developmental Report: 02.20.18

A couple of big moves since our last Maryland Developmental Update. Whether it be first call-ups or first goals, it’s been an eventful almost three months for the Maryland hockey prospects. We’ll start off first with the call-up:

SPHL/ECHL

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Mike Chen, Knoxville Ice Bears/South Carolina Stingrays (Rockville): 6g, 19a, +6 (with Knoxville): A tremendous start to his career, Chen earned his first call-up to the ECHL on Monday. With 25 points in 40 games, Chen led all rookie defensemen in points, while also being third in points for Knoxville and second on the team in power play scoring with 11 points (3g, 8a) with the extra man.

AHL

Sam Anas, Iowa Wild (Potomac): 18g, 22a, 4 GWG: Talk about a boost in the last two months, Anas has been fantastic. After a ten-game points-streak and six-game goal-scoring streak in December, Anas has continued through to be one of the top contributors in Iowa’s line-up. With a playoff push coming up and a bigger role, expect Anas to really show up in a big way for Derek Lalonde’s bunch.

Nick Ellis, Bakersfield Condors (Millersville): 8-9-2, 3.23 GAA, .897 Sv%: Rookie woes have gotten to Ellis after a hot start. Though he got called up to Edmonton, he saw no playing time and was returned to Bakersfield, where Laurent Brossoit has gotten a hefty share of starts since. With Brossoit called up, Ellis could be seeing more playing time and hopefully get his first win since January 6th.

ECHL

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Jack Burton, Indy Fuel (Reisterstown): 2g, 6a, 47 PIMs: He may not light the lamp or burn up the scoresheet as often as he’d like, the responsibility of Burton in his own end may be a trademark going forward. At 6’3 and 210, Burton may need to be a little bulkier in order to be a lockdown defenseman, but that very well could come with time and seasoning.

Nick Sorkin, Wheeling Nailers (Rockville): 6g, 37a, +9: Sorkin has settled into the set-up role for Cody Wydo, Reid Gardiner, and Cam Brown. Not just on his team, but Sorkin’s 37 assists rank fifth in the ECHL. Sorkin also hit a personal milestone, getting his 100th professional point in his 107th game on February 12th.

Eric Sweetman, Idaho Steelheads (Woodbine): 4g, 14a, +13: Another defenseman who is finding his footing, Sweetman has gotten better as the season has gone along. Despite his 5’11 frame, Sweetman has come into his own with 12 of his 18 points (4g, 8a) coming in the 2018 calendar year.

OHL

Adam Varga, Mississauga Steelheads (Bel Air): 0g, 4a, -8: With some scratches to his name, Varga is really getting a taste of the OHL life at 16-years old. One bright spot is that Varga did get his first OHL goal on Monday, which was his second game back from over a month being out of the line-up. Here’s hoping the stretch run will help the Bel-Air prospect going into his draft year next year.

USNTDP

Patrick Giles, US National Development Program (Chevy Chase): 7g, 6a, +4: Though he was held without a point in the U17 Five Nations Cup, which the US did win, Giles did have a couple chances here and there during the tournament. A bit of a slide since starting off the new year with four points in four games (2g, 2a), the draft eligible Marylander still has plenty of time to up his stock before going off to Boston College.

NCAA

Jerad Rosburg, Michigan State (Clarksville): 0g, 8a, 54 PIMs

Matt McArdle, Lake Superior State (Odenton): 0g, 2a, 25 PIMs

Colin O’Neill, U-Mass Lowell (Odenton): 3g, 11a, 2 SHG

Jason O’Neill, Providence (Odenton): 0g, 8a, E

Bruce Racine, Colgate (Bethesda): 1-3-1, 3.57 GAA, .898 Sv%

ECHL Playing Games During All-Star Game is Absurd

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While there are people getting all hyped about the ECHL All-Star Game that is going to happen in Indianapolis January 15th; there’s an interesting turn that Justin Cohn of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette brought up in the midst of talking about guys who may have gotten snubbed for this honor of going to the game.

And lo and behold, Atlanta hosts Florida, Tulsa is in Allen, and Rapid City heads to Utah for three games. Florida will be without goalie Martin Ouellette, Atlanta without high-scoring forward Phil Lane, Allen’s top offensive-defenseman David Makowski, Tulsa’s Conner Bleackley, Rapid City’s top offensive threat Dante Salituro, and Utah’s rookie defensmen Cliff Watson will all be out of the line-up as they take part in the 3-on-3 tournament that the ECHL is putting on.

What professional league does something so silly to have one of their marquee events, which is put on the NHL Network, while regular season DIVISIONAL GAMES are taking place??

Sure, Rapid City is way out of the playoffs and Florida is having a helluva season, but everyone else is in the thick of the playoff race. As Cohn mentioned, what if you’re playing a rival where one of your top guys is out for an exhibition game like this and you lose two big points because of something like this??

To play the Devil’s advocate, though– this could happen if the top guy was called up to the AHL on a PTO or whatever, so it’s a situation that could happen and teams have to have adapt as they need to in order to succeed. Yet, it’s not an AHL or NHL team that moving the guys away from the line-up. The league itself, the play you pay your franchise fee to is pulling some of your best players out of the line-up of a regular season game for an exhibition.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL– by my count– seven of the top-10 in league scoring are not going to be appearing at the game. Why would you have that many top scorers out of that line-up?? Sure, you want to have every team represented and there’s a lot of guys on the same team that are in the top scoring list (Cincinnati, Greenville, Fort Wayne), but to have your best players not playing is a disservice to your league, to your fans, and to the NHL Network– who would want the best of the best to show off the ECHL.

There’s better ways to show off the league– like a Game of the Week that’s not on Facebook or on the so-so ECHL.TV broadcasts they have now. The league should lobby the NHL Network to put on a highly produced game twice a month or so. But to have the league still going on while the rest of the league is trying to sell a premier event is the biggest head-scratcher of them all.