California Dreaming: Changes to the AHL and ECHL Officially Announced

California Dreaming: Changes to the AHL and ECHL Officially Announced

It is probably a good thing hockey brass do not have security clearances.

The American Hockey League officially announced their long-expected, terribly-kept secret pertaining to the AHL West movement within their league for the upcoming 2015 – 2016 season.

The AHL has created of a new division within the league entitled the Pacific Division. The new division will include five new, California-based teams: Bakersfield (Edmonton), Ontario (Los Angeles), San Diego (Anaheim), San Jose (San Jose), and Stockton (Calgary).

With the announcement by the AHL on Thursday in San Jose, the East Coast Hockey League also announced amendments to their league on Friday.

Who’s Moving


  • Adirondack Flames (Calgary) will move to Stockton, CA. No name has been announced thus far.
  • Norfolk Admirals (Anaheim) will move to San Diego, CA. The official name and logo will be released on February 22nd.
  • Worcester Sharks (San Jose) will move to San Jose, CA and will not be named the Sharks. Both teams in San Jose will share the SAP Center.
  • Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles) will move to Ontario, CA and will be renamed the Ontario Reign. A new logo will be released on February 2nd.
  • Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton) will move to Bakersfield, CA and the ‘Name-The-Team’ contest deadline is February 15th.


  • Ontario Reign personnel move to Manchester, NH and will be renamed the Manchester Monarchs.
  • Bakersfield Condors personnel move to Norfolk, VA and will be renamed the Norfolk Admirals, possibly the Hampton Roads Admirals.
  • Stockton Thunder personnel move to Glens Falls, NY and will most likely be renamed the Adirondack Flames, possibly the Adirondack Thunder. A three-year commitment has been signed with the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Shuffling Around

Both leagues will have to change around their divisions.

The AHL’s Monarchs and Sharks will be leaving the Atlantic Division, the Flames will be leaving the North Division, the Admirals will be leaving the East Division, and the Barons will be departing the West Division.

In the ECHL, it is more of a jumble. The Condors, Reign, and Thunder will all be leaving the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and Manchester, Norfolk, and Adirondack will all be headed across the continent  to join the Eastern Conference.

Here’s my stab at new-look divisions for both leagues next year:

New AHL Divisions Prediction:

Eastern Conference

Northeast: Toronto, Hamilton, Portland, Providence, St. John’s

Atlantic: Albany, Hartford, Springfield, Bridgeport, Utica

East: Lehigh, Hershey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Binghamton, Syracuse

Western Conference

Midwest: Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, Milwaukee, Rochester

*South: Charlotte, Iowa, Rockford, San Antonio, Texas

*Pacific: *Bakersfield, *Ontario, *San Diego, *San Jose, *Stockton

Possible New AHL Alignment

New ECHL Divisions Prediction:

Eastern Conference

North: *Adirondack, Brampton, Elmira, Kalamazoo, *Manchester, Toledo, Wheeling

East: Florida, Greenville, Gwinnett, *Norfolk, Orlando, Reading, South Carolina

Western Conference

*West (formerly Pacific): Alaska, Allen, Colorado, Idaho, Rapid City, Utah, Tulsa

Central: Cincinnati, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indy, Missouri, Quad City, Wichita

New Possible ECHL Divisions

* = denotes new team or divisional name

Notes: Both Worcester, MA and Oklahoma City, OK will not receive an AHL or ECHL team for next year as it stands right now….unrelated news, the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL) could not secure a facility for next season and will withdraw from the league after this season.

Local Senior Hockey Player suits up for AHL Team

Local Senior Hockey Player suits up for AHL Team

ST. JOHN’S, NL – It was not a regular weekend of hockey for local senior hockey goaltender Doug Pippy.

The 22 year-old St. John’s native was prepping for a Saturday night game with the Southern Shore Puglisevich Breakers of the Avalon East Senior Hockey League (AESHL) when his phone rang.

On the phone was the Director of Hockey Operations for the St. John’s IceCaps, Brad Andrews.

I got a call a few hours before my own senior game saying they [Lehigh Valley Phantoms] might need someone for the following evening but it wasn’t 100 percent [known] yet. Later that evening I got a call back saying that they were going to use me.

The Phantoms had run into a goaltending situation and were in need of a goaltender to dress versus the IceCaps Sunday afternoon. Starting goaltender Rob Zepp was recalled to the Philadelphia Flyers after Saturday night’s win versus St. John’s which had left back-up rookie net minder Anthony Stolarz as the sole goaltender. The Phantoms needed a back-up.

Pippy, a Police Studies and Psychology student at Memorial University, is no stranger to the IceCaps and was a quick call away.

Over the past couple of summers he had skated with local pro players such as Ryane Clowe (New Jersey Devils) and Zach O’Brien (Manchester Monarchs). It was at these skating opportunities that he met IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray. Jaffray, who has has been playing professional hockey since the 2002 – 2003 season, comes back to Newfoundland earlier than most of the IceCaps after the off-season and was looking for a skate this past summer.

After getting to know Jason I mentioned to him if the IceCaps were ever in need of someone for practice I would certainly come up. Sure enough he got me up a few times to skate with them, which was awesome for him to do.

When Pippy received the call about the opportunity to suit up for an AHL game, he was ecstatic.

[I was] thrilled! I couldn’t believe I had this opportunity! I was kind of in disbelief it was happening until I showed up at the rink.

It was one of the coolest things I have ever done. As we all know Newfoundland has some amazing hockey fans and Mile One gets pretty loud during the IceCaps games so being on the other side of it this time was pretty surreal.

Warm up was really fun. For this to happen in St. John’s made it even more special as I could have a few friends and family in the stands. I just really tried to soak it all in. It will be something I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Although he was not dressed for his local professional hockey team, like every kid’s dream, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms made Pippy’s short experience with their organization very professional and welcoming.

Both the coaching staff and players were very friendly and professional. They made me feel welcome immediately. Everyone introduced themselves to me and told me how much they appreciated me coming out. Which was weird, because I felt like they were doing me a favour and giving me a special experience. I even got to participate in their player meetings.

The room with the players was like any other team I’ve been on. Just a bunch of close-knit guys who love the game and love being with the boys. They had a pretty loose atmosphere in the room, which seemed to pay off for them this weekend with two wins.

After the game Pippy was once again surprised by the Phantoms players.

The players actually invited me out for a meal after the game, which was awesome. You would think a lot of guys wouldn’t really care that I was there because I was only filling in but they welcomed me into their room.

They were a great bunch of people and I really appreciated what they did for me.

No Stranger to Local Hockey

Pippy led the Avalon Capitals of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League (SJJHL) to first place in the SJJHL 2013-2014 season and capped the season off by winning the league championship. He was named the Jungle Jim’s Player of the Game for the Championship in which the Capitals won 3-2 with nine seconds remaining in overtime.

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Stats via the St. John’s Junior Hockey League website

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Stats via the St. John’s Junior Hockey League website

Emergency Situations

There have been several instances where emergency back-up goaltenders have been called to fill in for a hockey club. Here are a few of the most interesting:

  • Paul Deutsch, a 51 year-old recreational hockey player, was an emergency back-up for the Minnesota Wild on November 23rd, 2013.
  • In 2008, Brett Leonhardt, the producer of the Washington Capitals website, suited up for the ‘Caps after goalie Jose Theodore was hurt during the morning skate.
  • In March of 2010 a University of Calgary drama student by the name of Nathan Deobald was named the second-string goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers for a match versus the Vancouver Canucks after Oilers G Devan Dubynk was diagnosed with infectious gastrointestinal disorder. Debold had little more professional experience than Deutsch and Leonhardt; he was a goaltender with the U of C Dinos in the CIS.


Follow me on Twitter @CharlesMDart

Norfolk Admirals Pending Sale

Norfolk Admirals Pending Sale

On The Move

It appears the Norfolk Admirals will be no more.

After 14 years a franchise, news broke yesterday, January 7th that the Admirals will be sold to their parent club, the Anaheim Ducks and moved west as part of a new-look AHL West.

The Admirals will relocate to San Diego next season, just 95 miles south of Anaheim. Reports indicate the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors will move to Norfolk, whilst the Oklahoma City Barons will more than likely relocate to Bakersfield.