The Central Hockey League Report





TEMPE, Ariz. – As the dog days of Summer roll on, there have been no league announcements this week the CHL continues preparations for its 21st season.
In other news around the league: Allen Americans
The Allen Americans announced on Friday, the signing of Forward James Schaafsma for the upcoming season.   Schaafsma has spent much of his professional career in Europe, playing in the Italian League the last two seasons with Groden/Val Gardena.  In 67 games, he scored 102 points (43 G, 59 A). Prior to that, he played one season is the U.S. with the Flint Generals of the IHL in 2009-10, where he contributed 65 points (30 G, 35 A) in 70 games.   “James Schaafsma will be a top player on our team and one of the top players in the league,” Americans Head Coach Steve Martinson said. “He is a highly skilled player that plays both Center and the Left Wing.”   The native of Chatham, Ontario, stands 6’ 0” tall and weighs in at 195 pounds. Schaafsma will turn 30 years old in February.
Arizona Sundogs
The Arizona Sundogs announced on Wednesday that hard-hitting veteran defenseman Mario Larocque has signed with the team for the upcoming season. 
Larocque was selected by Tampa Bay in the 1st Round (16th) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft and began his pro career in 1998.  He played five games with the Lightning that season and accrued 16 penalty minutes. 
Over the course of his 14 year career, Larocque played in 844 games, amassing an impressive 381 points (128 G, 253 A) and 2,667 penalty minutes.
During the 2010-2011 Larocque played for the Evansville Icemen   during the 2010-11 season as their assistant captain and scored 44 points (17 G, 27 A).  Last season, he played in 69 games with the Elmira Jackals (ECHL) and racked up 140 penalty minutes while scoring 45 points (7 G, 38 A).
“Larocque is a huge signing for us”, Sundogs General Manager Chris Presson said of the 34-year-old, 220-pound native of Montreal, Quebec.   “This will by my 15th season playing hockey and I’m looking forward to playing it in Arizona”, Larocque said. “I like the way Chris and Dave are putting the pieces together of the team. I know guys that have played with Arizona before and they’ve all said that this organization treats their players good and that’s important to me.”
Also on Wednesday, Phoenix Coyotes V.P. of Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving announced that the Coyotes have renewed their affiliation agreement with the Sundogs.
“We are pleased to formalize this relationship with the Arizona Sundogs as we look to grow hockey in the state of Arizona,” Treliving said. “We look forward to a strong partnership this season.” “Last year’s affiliation with the Coyotes was positive for both organizations,” Sundogs General Manager Chris Presson said. “David Schlemko is just one example of why an affiliation between the Coyotes and the Sundogs is so exciting. We were proud to have him here and we’re looking forward to assisting the Coyotes in the future.”
Also this week, former Sundogs center Jean Philippe Chabot signed with the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL). 
Bloomington Blaze
The Bloomington Blaze announced last week that they have signed Pennington, New Jersey native Charlie Townsend .

Charlie Townsend

Charlie Townsend

Blaze head coach Brian Gratz will be leading Townsend in his second consecutive season after both spent 2011-12 with the Dayton Gems. In 37 games played with the Gems, Townsend racked up 14 points (7 G, 7A) and spent 30 minutes in the penalty box, while keeping a +2 plus/minus rating last season. Before entering professional hockey, Townsend, a 6’ 4”, 225-pound forward, played for four years at Middlebury College in Vermont. The school is known for its success, including three consecutive NCAA Division III national championships from 2004-06 by both its men’s and women’s teams. “Charlie is a big, hard working forward that can play in a variety of situations,” Gratz said. “He is physical on the forecheck and takes pride in killing penalties.”
Also this week, former Blaze forward Jason Dale has reportedly signed with the Evansville IceMen (ECHL). Denver Cutthroats
The Denver Cutthroats announced on Tuesday that they have added forwards AJ Gale and Troy Schwab to their roster. The former teammates are reuniting in Denver after skating the 2010-11 season as members of the Wichita Thunder, where they scored a combined 119 points on 45 goals and 74 assists. Gale, 25, is set to begin his fourth professional season and third in the CHL. The Nanaimo, British Columbia native recorded 14 points (7 G, 7 A) in 14 games last year competing overseas in Denmark. From 2009-11, Gale tallied 89 points (41 G, 48 A) in 120 CHL games between Wichita and the Texas Brahmas. “Both AJ and Troy bring an element of speed and energy to our forward line,” Cutthroats Head Coach Derek Armstrong said. “Both players have had great success early on in their careers due to their high compete level every night on the ice and that’s the kind of hockey team we want to have.” Prior to turning pro, the 5’ 11”, 180-pound Gale split his college time between St. Cloud State University and St. Norbert College. The 27-year-old Schwab registered 55 points (19 G, 36 A) in 54 games during his 2010-11 campaign alongside Gale in Wichita. Last season in Germany, the 5’ 8”, 190-pound native of Kindersley, Saskatchewan amassed 45 points (19 G, 26 A) in 46 games. After completing a four-year career at Lake Superior State University, Schwab finished his 2009-10 rookie season scoring 53 (18 G, 35 A) points in 67 games for the Johnstown Chiefs (ECHL).
Missouri Mavericks
There was no news of note from the Mavericks organization this week.
Quad City Mallards
There was no news of note from the Mallards organization this week. Rapid City Rush
There was no news of note from the Rush organization this week.
Former Rush forward Shawn Limpright has reportedly signed with the Sheffield Steelers (EIHL).
Texas Brahmas
Still not a peep out of the Texas Brahmas organization – the only CHL club yet to officially commit to the 2012-13 season.
It was reported by PHN this week that the Brahmas organization has been in talks to sell the franchise to a local ownership group, however there is no official word that a sale has been worked out.
The league’s schedule has no doubt been held up by this development and Brahmas fans, who have been left in the dark by the current ownership, still don’t know if they will have a team to follow this season.
In other news, former Brahmas forward Tyler Barr has reportedly signed with the Louisiana IceGators (SPHL).
Tulsa Oilers
The Tulsa Oilers have signed center Kyle Kudroch and left wing Anthony Bergin for the upcoming 2012-13 season.
“I’m excited to bring in these two rookies,” Oilers Head Coach Bruce Ramsay said. “They’re both physical, feisty players who are more than capable of putting up points. They’ve both got the potential to be top rookies and they remind me of the some of the outstanding rookies we had last year.”
Kudroch, 5’ 10” 180-pounds, spent the last four years playing college hockey at Plattsburgh State in New York. He was a teammate of former Oilers standout Dylan Clarke who tied for the team lead in scoring in his first season of professional hockey.
“I’m really good friends with Clarkey,” said Kudroch, who put up a career-high 23 points in 27 games during his senior season with the Cardinals. “He told me it’s a great bunch of guys, a good city to be in, and he told me a lot about Coach Ramsay as well. He told me I’d be given a fair opportunity to prove myself and that’s all I’m looking for at this point is just a chance to show what I can do.”
A Cottam, Ontario native, Kudroch believes he can come out of a Division Three school and follow Clarke’s path of success in the pro ranks.
“I definitely think we get overlooked all the time,” Kudroch remarked. “What Dylan did gave me a lot of confidence that I can go out and play at that level. Just because you play D-3 doesn’t mean you can’t step up and I’m hoping to follow the track Dylan is on right now.”
Bergin joins the Oilers after two seasons at the University of Toronto. The 6’ 0” 190-pound forward registered 22 points (8 G, 14 A) during the 2010-11 season for the Varsity Blues and followed up with 19 points (9 G, 10 A) in the 2011-12 campaign.
“Playing pro hockey has always been a goal of mine,” Bergin said. “I know a few guys in the CHL and they all had good things to say about Tulsa, the rink, and the team, so I had a good feeling about making this decision.
A 23-year old out of Scarborough, Ontario, Bergin spent time in the Canadian junior ranks with the Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL), North York Rangers (OJHL), and the Markham Waxers (OJHL). Bergin doesn’t know exactly what to expect when he arrives in Tulsa but thinks his college experience will serve him well.
“There are nerves with going pro, but my game has really developed in my two years at UT,” said Bergin. “I’m not going to put any pressure on myself, I just want to work hard and see where it goes and I’m really looking forward to taking this next step.”
The Oilers also announced this week that they will hold a Free Agent Camp on October 2-4 at the Oilers Ice Center. The camp will be run by Head Coach Bruce Ramsay. 
Wichita Thunder
The Thunder announced on Friday that they have added forward Jesse Bennefield and goaltender Torrie Jung to their roster. Bennefield, 31, returns to the Thunder after spending last season with the Fort Wayne Komets. Entering his eighth season as a pro, Bennefield led the Thunder in scoring during the 2010-11 season with 75 points (35 G, 40 A), which was good for 12th place in the CHL. The Calgary, Alberta native was acquired in a trade at the beginning of the season from Rio Grande Valley. “I’m going back to a place where I had a lot of fun and Coach McClelland got the best out of me as a player,” Bennefield said. “The fans and organization are first class and that’s where I want to be. I hope we can continue what the team last year started and bring home a title.” The 6’ 0”, 195-pound forward began his career in 2005-06 with the San Diego Gulls, scoring 30 goals, 60 points, and earned a spot on the 2006 ECHL All-Star team. The following year, Bennefield jumped to the United Hockey League and helped the Rockford IceHogs to a 2007 Colonial Cup Championship. In 2009-10, Bennefield scored 59 points (24 G, 35 A) for the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and was a CHL All-Star.That same season, he rattled off a 12-game point streak from November 14th to December 5th and totaled 20 multi-point games.
Overall, Bennefield has accumulated 378 points (175 G, 203 A) in 382 games as a professional.
 
Torrie Jung

Torrie Jung

Jung, 23, played last season for the Laredo Bucks. A seventh-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jung is entering his third season of pro hockey.
 
Last season, Jung managed three shutouts in a four-game span. After blanking Rio Grande Valley 1-0 on January 27th, he earned two consecutive shutouts against the Texas Brahmas on February 1st and February 3rd. The young netminder ran his scoreless minute streak to 125:13 during the week and earned Oakley Goaltender of the Week honors for his efforts. Last season, Jung went 14-21-2 with a 3.50 GAA and a .896 Save Percentage and stopped 1,115 shots. He finished tied for the league-lead in shutouts (3).
 
Jung made his professional debut as an emergency goaltender with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs during the 2009-10 playoffs. He stopped 30 of 31 shots in the final 30 minutes of Mudbugs Game Seven loss to Rapid City in the Northern Conference Finals.
 
“I’m very excited to be coming to Wichita this season and helping the Thunder to try to win a championship,” Jung said. “I’ve heard nothing but great things regarding the fans, coaching staff, and organization as a whole. I know they have some unfinished business and I’m looking forward to helping the team take care of that.” The 6’ 1”, 170-pound native of Nanaimo, BC played five seasons of junior hockey, spending time in the WHL and BCHL. He had a combined record of 55-84-27 and posted five shutouts. During the 2008-09 campaign, Jung was named the Edmonton Oil Kings’ team MVP. He also took home the Three Stars Award as well as the Humanitarian Award. In 48 regular season games, Jung posted a 20-20-3-5 record with a 2.56 GAA and a .912 save percentage to go along with three shutouts. His 20 wins, three shutouts and his 2.56 GAA are all team records “Both these guys are going to be good additions to our hockey team,” Head Coach Kevin McClelland said. “Jesse is a pure goal scorer and we are glad to have him back in Wichita. Torrie is a young net minder who has a lot of starts under his belt and will solidify our rotation in net.”  Contact the writer/photographer at robert.keith@prohockeynews.com Follow us on Twitter (@prohockeynews)

Leave a Comment