I said it before in the previous blog entry that Solar Bears fans can take a bow for their support this past season – that goes double to all of our Season Ticket Members who showed up for the Stanley Cup watch party at Ferg’s Depot on Church Street last night. It was great to see so many familiar faces and catch up!
The only downside was that Drake’s prediction for the Stanley Cup Final took a hit at the end of Game 5.
Elsewhere around the ECHL:
– When one door closes, another opens. Former Alaska Aces coach Rob Murray is moving south to Tulsa, where the team announced on Wednesday that he’ll become the bench boss for the Oilers. It’s a good move for Tulsa, which has missed the playoffs for the past two seasons. With the Aces folding up shop this spring, the timing was perfect for the Oilers to grab the 2012 ECHL Coach of the Year. Murray guided the Aces to their final Kelly Cup title in 2014, when Brett Findlay was just a fresh-faced rookie.
– The Rapid City Rush will also have a new coach for next season, and the team revealed last night that the man for the job will be Daniel Tetrault, who served as the team’s assistant coach last season. “Testy,” as he’s known, hasn’t been coaching too long at the pro level, but he’s known for his leadership abilities, as Solar Bears assistant coach John Snowden can attest to – they played with and against each other during their days in the IHL 2.0 and Central Hockey League.
– In affiliation news, the rebranded Kansas City Mavericks have gained a new parent NHL club in the Calgary Flames, meaning the Adirondack Thunder are in need of a new NHL affiliate. The Tulsa Oilers are also on the hunt for a new affiliation after Tulsa GM Taylor Hall indicated that his team’s affiliation with the Winnipeg Jets has ended in the press conference announcing Rob Murray’s hiring.
Currently, the following ECHL clubs are without an NHL affiliate for next season: Adirondack, Fort Wayne, Jacksonville and Tulsa. If history is any indication, don’t be surprised if the Jets touch down in Jacksonville – newly-appointed head coach Jason Christie had the Winnipeg affiliation when he was with Tulsa, and prior to that, in Ontario with the Reign.
– The word from Worcester yesterday, per Railers HC broadcaster Eric Lindquist, is that the ECHL will likely add at least one member in 2018-19 in New England.
— Eric Lindquist (@VoiceOfPuck) June 8, 2017
My money’s on Portland, which will be forced to go without hockey for at least one more year after the Pirates relocated to Springfield to become the Thunderbirds for 2016-17. With Adirondack, Manchester and now Worcester to take the ice this season, the addition of another New England team would create a nice four-team cluster of former AHL markets that will enable the development of some good rivalries and keep travel costs low.
Jesse Liebman is the Director of Communications & Broadcasting for the Solar Bears and enters his third season in Orlando in 2017-18. Shoot him an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments or blog ideas.