The Central Hockey League Report


TEMPE, Ariz. – The CHL’s newest franchise led the league news on Monday, when St. Charles Chill President and General Manager Nicole Kupaks introduced former St. Louis Blues Defenseman Jamie Rivers as the team’s first head coach.
Rivers, who resides with his family in St. Charles, was signed in 1993 by the St. Louis Blues and through his career has played in 454 NHL hockey games.  “Jamie is a hometown favorite,” Kupaks said. “…and most importantly, his experience in the National Hockey League, and his skill set as a player and coach is exactly what we were looking for. We are confident Jamie can bring the St. Charles Chill onto the ice in 2013 prepared to compete at an elite level, and give our fans the best game experience possible at the St. Charles Family Arena.” During Rivers’ 20-year career as a professional hockey player, he played five seasons with the St. Louis Blues and also played for other NHL teams including the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and Detroit Red Wings. “Am I excited? You bet,” Rivers said. “I was on the ice at Hardees Ice Rink in Chesterfield when I heard a new hockey team was coming to town. I set up a meeting with Ms. Kupaks, and am very pleased to have been selected.” Rivers’ initial duties will be in the front office taking care of business matters related to the formation of a new hockey team. This includes marketing and building partnerships with key players in the St. Louis market, including the St. Louis Blues. “Our first training camp is scheduled for October, 2013,” Rivers said. “Until then, there is a business side to this, and as a coach, there are a lot of variables such as finance, marketing the brand, and preparing contracts.  We are going to keep it fun and upbeat. It is very important for our players to remember these are the best times of their lives, and to never lose sight of that.They are playing the game they love and need to stay with that attitude. My reward as a coach will be seeing these kids advance their career to a higher level.”
On Tuesday, the Central Hockey League announced that they have entered into a 3-year agreement with America ONE Sports for the broadband distribution of CHL games, also known as CHL-TV.  The agreement will allow Subscribers to access games through traditional web browsers on both PC’s and MAC’s, as well as over their IOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices.  “Our partnership with AOS is going to present CHL fans with more access than ever to their favorite teams, athletes, and matchups,” CHL Commissioner Duane Lewis said. “As a league we are very excited about the new partnership and feel it’s going to be the best season yet for CHL-TV.” “We are pleased to bring CHL action to fans across the country and around the world,” added Bruce LeVine, America ONE Sports Director of Programming. “Broadband telecast distribution on America ONE Sports will help increase global visibility for CHL in ways that are both efficient and economical, and will provide fans with more ways to view their sport of choice. Adding the opportunity to watch great CHL action on mobile devices can only make that experience better.”
On Wednesday, the league announced its 2012 pre-season schedule, which consists of eight games beginning on Friday, October 12 and concluding on Sunday, October 14. 

Texas%27 Brendon Hodge and Allen%27s Jason Deitsch face off.

Texas%27 Brendon Hodge and Allen%27s Jason Deitsch face off.

Eight of the CHL’s 10 teams will be in pre-season action with only the Arizona Sundogs and Missouri Mavericks not taking on a fellow CHL opponent.  The pre-season gets underway on Friday, October 12 with three games including Quad City at Bloomington, Allen at Texas and Denver at Rapid City. In all three cases, it is the first of back-to-back games between the teams.  Rivals Tulsa and Wichita meet on Saturday night at the Wichita Ice Center and then on Sunday, October 14, the Tulsa Oilers will be the home team when they and the Denver Cutthroats battle in the first ever professional game at the United Wireless Center in Dodge City, Kansas. The new Cutthroats are the busiest club with three games; two in Rapid City and one in Dodge City against Tulsa. 2012 CHL Pre-season Schedule (all times local)
Oct. 12- Quad City @ Bloomington, 7:30 PM Oct. 12- Denver @ Rapid City, 7:05 PM Oct. 12- Allen @ Texas, 7:00 PM Oct. 13- Denver @ Rapid City, 7:05 PM Oct. 13- Texas @ Allen, 7:05 PM Oct. 13- Bloomington @ Quad City, TBD Oct. 13- Tulsa @ Wichita, 3:00 PM (at the Wichita Ice Center) Oct. 14- Denver @ Tulsa, 6:00 PM (in Dodge City, KS) ***games will be played at home team’s primary venue unless otherwise noted***
In other news around the league: Allen Americans
On Friday, the Allen Americans announced the signing of forward Ryley Grantham the upcoming 2012-13 season. Grantham is a former sixth round draft pick of the of the Calgary Flames, 161st overall, in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
Grantham, 24, is a native of Hanna, Alberta, standing 6′ 3″, 210 pounds. He will begin his first season with the Allen Americans, after spending last year under the direction of Coach Steve Martinson with the Chicago Express (ECHL). In 19 games, Grantham had 11 points, and 75 penalty minutes.
“Ryley Grantham is a tough physical forward with great hands,” Americans Head Coach Steve Martinson said. “I expect him to score goals, make plays, and be a tough forward to play against.”
Prior to Chicago, Grantham spent parts of two seasons in the ECHL, with both Gwinnett and Utah. He played in 89 games with the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League from 2009-2011, collecting 163 penalty minutes in 2009.
Grantham played junior hockey for three seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL from 2006-2008, and a stint with the Kelowna Rockets in 2008-2009. Grantham has been invited to the Houston Aeros training camp scheduled to open on September 28th in Minnesota. The Aeros are the AAA minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.
Arizona Sundogs
There was no news of note from the Sundogs organization this week.
Bloomington Blaze
The Bloomington Blaze announced the signing of defenseman Jesse Dudas
Jesse Dudas

Jesse Dudas

to their roster for the upcoming season. Dudas has played sporadically during three professional seasons, and spent part of the 2009-10 campaign in Bloomington. Other pro stops include Charlotte of the ECHL and Corpus Christi and Texas of the CHL. Dudas stands 6′ 2″, and weighs 215 pounds. He is a native of St. Albert, Alberta, a suburb of Edmonton. “Jesse is a very skilled player who is capable of playing both forward and defense,” Blaze coach Brian Gratz said. “His versatility will be very beneficial for our team as we compete this upcoming year.”
Denver Cutthroats
There was no news of note from the Cutthroats organization this week. Missouri Mavericks
There was no news of note from the Mavericks organization this week.

Quad City Mallards
On Monday, Mallards announced they have signed goaltender Joe Palmer .  Palmer, 24, went 12-10-1 last season with a 3.02 goals against average and a .904 save percentage while playing a total of 28 games for three ECHL teams- the Reading Royals, Gwinnett Gladiators and Florida Everblades.   

Joe Palmer

Joe Palmer

Palmer now returns to the CHL for the first time since enjoying a standout rookie campaign with the Texas Brahmas in 2009-10.   “I saw Joe play when he was with the Brahmas a couple of years ago and thought he played great,” Mallards coach and general manager Terry Ruskowski said. “When he came to my attention this off-season I knew he had to be a Mallard.”   The 6′ 1″, 205-pound Palmer went 13-10-4 in 32 games with Texas and finished his first professional season tied for the CHL lead in shutouts (3), tied for sixth in save percentage (.914) and ranked ninth in goals against average (2.75).    In 2010-11, Palmer moved on to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, for whom he went 10-14-1 with a 4.17 goals against average and a .870 save percentage in 28 games.   Palmer started last season in Reading, where he went 5-6-3 and posted a 3.16 goals against average and a .916 save percentage in 16 outings. In January, the Yorkville, New York, native joined Gwinnett, for whom he went 6-4-0 in 11 games and turned in a 3.39 goals against average and a .877 save percentage.  He finished the campaign by winning his lone outing with the Florida Everblades.   Palmer turned pro after three seasons at Ohio State. He went 25-36-9 in 71 career collegiate games while registering a 3.11 goals against average and a .887 save percentage. Palmer embarked upon his college career after being selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round of the 2006 National Hockey League Entry Draft with the ninety-sixth overall choice.   Before heading to Columbus, Palmer spent the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons with the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 Team.    On Tuesday, the Mallards announced they have re-signed defenseman Jared Lavender
“Jared’s a solid, experienced defenseman who was a dependable guy on the blue line for this club last year,” Ruskowski added. “He’s a player we’re happy to be able to bring back to the Mallards this season.”   Lavender, 28, scored three goals and totaled 19 points in 60 games with the Mallards last season after being acquired in a trade with the Missouri Mavericks just prior to the start of the campaign.   
Jared Lavender

Jared Lavender

The 5′ 11″, 188-pound Lavender spent his first two professional seasons with the Mavericks. The Cleveland Heights, Ohio, native scored twice and posted seven points in 49 games as a rookie in 2009-10. The following season Lavender picked up 10 assists in 45 games for Missouri.   Before joining the Mavericks, Lavender enjoyed a four-year collegiate career at Division III Castleton State. He scored eight goals and produced 35 points in 107 career collegiate games.
On Thursday, the team announced that they have signed defensemen Matt Smyth and Anthony Pisano
Smyth, 27, last year skated for the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Fayetteville FireAntz after spending the bulk of his first five professional seasons in the CHL. The 6′ 2″, 205-pound, Wolesey, Ontario, native scored four goals and totaled 16 points while collecting 137 penalty minutes in 53 games with the FireAntz last season.  “Matt brings a lot of very important qualities to the Mallards with his toughness, size, grit and determination,” Ruskowski said. “When you add in his experience in this league, he’s the kind of player who can make an important contribution to our hockey club.” Smyth last played in the CHL in 2010-11, a season that saw him notch 10 assists and pile up 143 minutes in penalties while playing 65 games for the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. 
Matt Smyth

Matt Smyth

Smyth has also made CHL stops in Mississippi, Tulsa, Corpus Christi and Wichita since breaking into pro hockey with the ECHL’s Phoenix Road Runners in 2006-07. His season with the FireAntz was Smyth’s second stint in the SPHL- he also played briefly for the Louisiana IceGators in 2009-10.
Over the course of his career, Smyth has scored 15 goals and recorded 78 points while running up 679 penalty minutes in 342 games.  He has spent at least 130 minutes in the penalty box in each of his last four seasons.  Smyth played three-plus seasons in the major junior ranks with the Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack and Belleville Bulls before turning pro. Pisano, a 6′ 6″, 250-pound 23-year old, played for four teams as a rookie last season. Pisano began the campaign in the Federal Hockey League, where he produced three goals and four assists along with 96 penalty minutes in a total 20 games with first the Vermont Wild and then the Danbury Whalers. The New York City-born blue liner next played two games for the ECHL’s Trenton Titans before finishing the campaign as a teammate of Smyth’s in Fayetteville. Pisano registered an assist and 55 penalty minutes in 19 games with the FireAntz.  “Anthony is a young defenseman who has a lot of toughness and plenty of size,” Ruskowski said. “He’s very excited about stepping up to the CHL and making the most of the opportunity to make an impact in the Quad Cities.” Pisano stepped into pro hockey after four seasons in the junior ranks.  He suited up for the Oswego Admirals of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2006-07 before spending three years in the Maritime Hockey League with the Pictou County Weeks Crushers, Miramichi Timberwolves and Bridgewater Lumberjacks. In his first MHL campaign, he helped the Crushers reach the 2008 Royal Bank Cup – the Canadian Junior A national tournament. 
Rapid City Rush
There was no news of note from the Rush organization this week.
Texas Brahmas
There was no news of note from the Brahmas organization this week. Maybe tomorrow? Tuesday?
Tulsa Oilers
There was no news of note from the Oilers organization this week.
Wichita Thunder
The Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League announced today that they have re-signed forward Dustin Donaghy and defenseman Kevin Young to the roster for the upcoming 2012-13 season. The Thunder also announced that they have agreed to terms with defenseman Kyle Radke and forward Don Melnyk .
Dustin Donaghy

Dustin Donaghy

Donaghy, 23, begins his third season as a pro and third in Wichita. He was acquired in a trade with the Allen Americans in mid-January of the 2010-11 season. Last year, Donaghy tallied eight goals and 14 points while collecting a career-high 68 penalty minutes. The 5′ 11″, 196-pound winger made a huge impact for the Thunder as a rookie, notching 10 goals and 18 points in 33 games, including his first career hat-trick on January 23 versus Laredo.  “I am excited to come back for a third year with the Thunder,” Donaghy said. “I want to finish what we worked so hard for last year and win a Championship. I wouldn’t want to play for another team, Wichita is a first class organization and we have the tools to continue to win and be the top team in the league this year.” A native of Cranbrook, British Columbia, Donaghy played three seasons in the WHL. He split the 2009-10 season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Spokane Chiefs, combining for 13 points and 98 penalty minutes in 66 games. Donaghy’s best season came with Spokane in 2008-09 where he scored 10 goals, 24 points, and tallied 129 penalty minutes. Donaghy also played two seasons of junior hockey in his home province for the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.     Young, 30, joined the Thunder last March and provided stability on the blue line during last year’s playoff run. It didn’t take him long to contribute, notching two points in his first two games including the game-winning-goal on March 16th at Quad City. The 6′ 2″, 195-pound defenseman contributed four points in eight games during the regular season and tallied nine points during the playoffs. “I am excited to take another run at a championship,” Young said. “After getting so close last year, there is some unfinished business and with Coach McClelland; I know we will be knocking on the door again. The dedication and professionalism of the ownership made it an easy choice to come back.” Entering his eighth pro season, the White Rock, British Columbia native played four seasons of junior hockey in the WHL from 1998-2002 with Medicine Hat, Portland and Kelowna. He spent the 2002-03 season with the OHL’s Brampton Battalion and played two seasons of college hockey from 2003-05 at the University of New Brunswick. Young was awarded the Claire Drake Rookie of the Year in 2004.
Kevin Young

Kevin Young

*He turned pro in 2005 with the Nijmegen Devils in the Netherlands, where he was a member of the League Champions. Young scored a career-high 65 points with Eindhoven Kemphanen and was named Netherlands Best Defenseman in 2010-11. He finished the season with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs where he won the 2011 CHL Championship. Radke, 27, comes to the Thunder after spending two seasons with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. A native of Bashaw, Alberta, Radke begins his sixth season as a pro. He was one of the key members of the Killer Bees defense two seasons ago, appearing in 62 games before an injury sidelined him for the playoffs. A highly-skilled, stay-at-home defensemen, Radke also added four goals and 12 assists while racking up 171 penalty minutes. Last season, he appeared in just 27 games, but racked up 65 minutes in penalties before being placed on the IR. “This is the most excited I’ve been in a long time to start a season,” Radke said. “I’ve always loved the intensity that the Thunder (and their fans) bring to the ice and feel privileged to be asked to be a part of it. The thought of putting on a Thunder uniform has been extremely motivating this off-season and I’m looking forward to doing anything I can to help the Thunder take that next step this year.” The 5′ 11″, 187-pounder enters his fifth pro season. In 2008-09, he played in 54 games for the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL and collected five points and 155 penalty minutes. The following year, Radke split 33 games between Idaho and Utah and posted two assists and 76 penalty minutes.
Radke played four seasons at the University of North Dakota from 2004-08, appearing in 137 career games and helping the Fighting Sioux to four
Kyle Radke

Kyle Radke

* straight Frozen Four appearances. He finished his career with seven goals, 20 assists and 284 penalty minutes, playing both at forward and on defense. Prior to his college career, Radke was named the Alberta Junior Hockey League Defenseman of the Year in 2003-04. Melnyk, 26, has spent the last five seasons in the SPHL (Southern Professional Hockey League), playing in Richmond, Twin City, Knoxville and Louisiana. His best season came in 2008-09 when he racked up 51 assists and 77 points in 60 games.
In 235 games in the SPHL, he has tallied 81 goals, 129 assists and 210 points. The 5′ 10″, 180-pound forward had a terrific junior career with the OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. In 2005-06, Melnyk racked up 57 assists, 98 points and 183 penalty minutes. A native of The Pas, Manitoba, Melnyk also suited up for the Laredo Bucks in 2006-07 picking up two assists in four games.
Contact the editor/photographer at robert.keith@prohockeynews.com Follow us on Twitter (@prohockeynews)

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