Shots from the Point
Three Things You Have to Know for Friday, October 15, 2010
#1 – The Beginning of an Era
A new era begins this weekend as the CHL welcomes five new teams to the league, four from the International Hockey League and the Evansville IceMen who played last season in the IHL as the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The IceMen are the only team thus far to play one of the 13 returning teams from the 2009-10 CHL’s roster when they played Missouri twice and Mississippi once in the preseason. This weekend will feature four of those match-ups with Bloomington playing at Missouri, Odessa at Quad City, Rapid City at Fort Wayne and Rapid City at Dayton.
#2 – Championship Showdown
The premier contest of opening weekend is a battle of the reigning CHL Champion Rapid City Rush and the reigning IHL Champion Fort Wayne Komets. The two powers square off in Fort Wayne on Saturday night in what is the Komets 59th season and the Rush’s third. The Komets will play in Raid City in March. Last year, the Rush went 43-14-7 winning the Northern Conference and then going on to win the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup in six games over the Allen Americans. The Komets went 50-21-1-4 in the regular season finishing second in the IHL and then went on to win the Turner Cup for the third consecutive season with a finals victory over Flint. Fort Wayne is 13-0-2 in their last 15 home openers winning six straight.
#3 – Rivalry Weekend
Opening weekend in the CHL features six games on Friday night, nine games on Saturday and one contest on Sunday and many of the opening weekend showdowns feature bitter CHL rivals going head-to-head looking to establish bragging rights early on in the new season. The new-look Wichita Thunder and the Tulsa Oilers play a home-and-home series as do the Mississippi RiverKings and Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. The South Texas due of the Laredo Bucks and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees will play a pair of games in the State Farm Arena and the Texas Brahmas and Allen Americans renew acquaintances in the Allen Event Center for a pair of games. The Brahmas have not won a regular season road game since they beat the Americans on February 15, 2009, a span of seven straight losses.
2008 Championship Rematch- The Arizona Sundogs open the 2010-11 season in the same venue that they hoisted the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup in 2008, the Budweiser Events Center. The Colorado Eagles host the Sundogs on both Friday and Saturday night in a series that has been hotly contested with the Eagles owning the all-time advantage with a 19-8-1 record against Arizona. Mark Kolanos, Jason Visser along with head coach Marco Pietroniro and assistant coach Chris Bartolone, are the lone remaining pieces to the championship for the ‘Dogs.
RiverKings Dream Team- The Mississippi RiverKings may have one of the most highly anticipated rosters in recent memory featuring 1000 games performers Louis Dumont and Jeff Christian (2007 CHL MVP) along with Chris Richards and Derek Landmesser. The four players have combined for 3,789 professional games and more impressively is that they have combined to score 3,821 points (1,320 goals and 2,501 assists). In all, the four legends have celebrated collectively four 100-point seasons and 14 30-goal campaigns. NOTE: Jeff Christian has the longest active point streak in the CHL at 11 games colleting 19 points (5-14=19) over that span.
Coaching 411- There are several coaching stories heading into opening night as the CHL welcomes four coaches who will be managing their first games with their teams in Jason Christie in Bloomington, Brian Gratz in Dayton, Kevin McClelland in Wichita and Rich Kromm with Evansville. Chris Stewart returns to the Colorado Eagles after a two-year absence. Stewart is the CHL’s all-time leader in win percentage at .678%.
Bucks Domination- The RGV Killer Bees will look to put an end to the Laredo Bucks domination over them with a pair of games this weekend in Hidalgo, TX. The Bees will look to do something they failed to do last season in 14 tries, beat the Bucks in regulation. Laredo went 11-0-3 versus RGV in 2009-10 and lead the all-time series winning 64 of the 93 games.
203 – Friday’s game between the Tulsa Oilers and the Wichita Thunder at the BOK Center in Tulsa will be the 203rd regular season meeting between the two rivals. The records are remarkably close with the Thunder winning 105 of the games and Tulsa taking 97 of the head-to-head meetings.