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Discussion Starter #1
Eagles Still Atop CHL Coach's Poll

The Colorado Eagles have maintained their top position in the Central Hockey League Coach's Poll, claiming the #1 ranking for the third straight poll and fifth time this season. The Eagles picked up 15 first place votes, and have rattled off 11 straight wins to lead the CHL with both 22 victories and 44 points.

The Memphis RiverKings retained their second place ranking (receiving a pair of first place votes) while the Laredo Bucks and Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, last season's Ray Miron President's Cup Finalists, have moved into positions 3 and 4 respectively. The Mudbugs showed the biggest improvement, not ranked in the December 20th poll but posting a record of 5-0-1 since to jump to #4, their highest ranking of the season to date. The Amarillo Gorillas also rejoin the top 10 at #9, their first appearance since a #10 ranking on November 15th.

Throughout the season the CHL will release the results of the Coaches Poll. Each first place selection earns 10 points, second place earns 9 points, etc. Coaches cannot vote for their own team, creating a potential perfect score of 160 points should one club receive all 16 possible first place votes. Previous week results listed below current week.

Central Hockey League Coaches Poll - Top 10

January 04, 2007

# 12/20/06 Team Record Poll Points 1st Place Votes

1 1 Colorado Eagles 22-4-0 158 15

2 2 Memphis RiverKings 19-6-3 140 2

3 4 Laredo Bucks 19-8-2 135

4 NR Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs 15-9-5 104

5 3 Oklahoma City Blazers 15-8-4 101

6 5 Youngstown SteelHounds 14-8-6 80

7 7 Corpus Christi Rayz 14-12-5 65

8 9 Arizona Sundogs 14-12-1 58

9 NR Amarillo Gorillas 13-11-2 41

10 8 Tulsa Oilers 12-11-4 23

Biggest Gain

Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (From NR to #4)

Moved Into Top 10

Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (Into #4)

Amarillo Gorillas (Into #9)

Dropped out of Top 10

Lubbock Cotton Kings (Were #6)

Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (Were #10)
 

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Gorillas Prepare For Busy Weekend; Back In Coaches Poll At #9

AMARILLO, TX - The Amarillo Gorillas of the Central Hockey League (CHL) should be well rested as they enter another busy 3-games-in-3-nights weekend starting tomorrow in New Mexico. Amarillo was scheduled to play 3 games last weekend but had their Saturday and Sunday contests postponed due to inclement weather. That means the Gorillas have not played a competitive game in a week and thus should be well rested heading into this crucial weekend of CHL action. The Gorillas have been one of the CHL's hottest teams lately as they've reeled off 4 consecutive victories and in the process, have moved back into the CHL Coaches Poll at #9.

The Gorillas enter CHL play this week currently tied for 2nd in the congested Southwest Division with an overall record of 13-11-2 and 28 total standings points. The Arizona Sundogs currently lead the division with 29 overall points, but they have played one additional game than the Gorillas. In fact, with just 26 games played, Amarillo has played the fewest number of games of any team in the Southern Conference. That will change this weekend though as the Apes get set to play 3 contests in less than 48 hours.

The busy weekend starts Friday night in Rio Rancho, New Mexico when the Gorillas take on fellow Southwest Division rivals, the Scorpions, for just the 2nd time this season. Amarillo and New Mexico met on opening night back on October 21st and the Gorillas took that get-together 5-2 thanks to four 3rd period goals. The Scorpions are currently 5th and last in the Southwest Division but sit only 2 points back of first with 27 standings points. New Mexico has struggled of late, dropping 3 of their last 4 contests.

The weekend then shifts to Amarillo with a pair of home match-ups against the Youngstown Steelhounds on Saturday and the Odessa Jackalopes Sunday. The Steelhounds enter this week 3rd in the Northeast Division but boast the CHL's top two scorers in Jeff Christian (53 points) and Chris Richards (50 points). The Jackalopes then come to town for the 5th meeting this season between Amarillo and Odessa. Each team has two victories in the season series, with the Jackalopes having taken the last meeting on December 16th by the final of 6-4. Amarillo has been one of the best teams in the Southern Conference when playing at home, currently boasting a 7-3-2 record when skating at the Cal Farley Coliseum.

Season ticket packages and corporate partnerships for the 2006-2007 season are available now! Individual game tickets, as well as great group rates, can be purchased at the Gorillas Hockey Office, located at 1934 Civic Circle off of I-40 and Georgia, the Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets. These include Randy's Music Mart, the West Texas Event Center in Canyon and United Supermarkets. Tickets can also be charged by phone at (806) 378-3096 or (806) 242-PUCK (7825).
 

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Basile Selected to 2007 CHL All-Star Roster

BOSSIER CITY, LA -- The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central Hockey League today announced that defenseman Jason Basile has been added to the 2007 Northern Conference All-Star Roster. This is the second time in his career that he's been selected for such an honor, following selection to the All-Star game in 2005.

"Jason Basile is no stranger to this kind of honor having been before and he's very much deserving of it," said Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Scott Muscutt. "We're pleased to see he's being recognized while playing on a defensive corp. that's been playing very well."

Basile replaces former Youngstown defenseman Paul Esdale (no longer with the organization) on the Northern Conference All-Star roster.

The 2007 All-Star game will be played at CenturyTel Center on January 17th, 2007. Group tickets for the game are available at 318-752-BUGS. Tickets are also on sale for the 2007 All-Star Banquet Dinner set for January 16th at the Horseshoe Casino RiverDome. Call the Mudbugs front office at 318-752-BUGS to reserve your seats today.
 

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Bodine School to be featured non-profit Sunday

SOUTHAVEN, MS --- In February of 1970, a school was established in Germantown, Tennessee, to provide an educational facility for adolescents with learning disabilities. Richard and Virginia Bodine founded the school in memory of their son Rick. The Bodine School continues to support students with learning disabilities today. Sunday, January 7, the Bodine School will be the featured non-profit at the Memphis RiverKings game, beginning at 5:05 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center versus the Corpus Christi Rayz.

In April of 1972, the school became Bodine of Germantown, Inc., commonly called The Bodine School. The Bodine School operates as a non-profit, charitable, educational organization. This year there are 82 students enrolled at The Bodine School grades 1-8.

"We are excited to participate with the RiverKings once again," said Joe Keohane, Director of Development/Public Relations. "We expect this to be a fun time with our students, their families, and the RiverKings."

The Bodine School strives to lead the Mid-South in teaching children with reading difficulties to read and succeed. Typically the students attending The Bodine School have difficulties with slow and labored oral reading, and their spelling is poor. The goal of the school is to return students to traditional schools within a 3-5 year period of time.

Services are provided to the community through the day school and summer school programs, tutor referrals, community workshops, school website, school in-services, and yearly publications. Throughout its 35 year history, The Bodine School has provided students with a nurturing environment, a challenging academic curriculum, and a faculty specially trained in reading remediation. Students who attend The Bodine School have, upon transition, gone on to attend a variety of public and independent schools with the majority attending post-secondary institutions upon graduation.

As part of the RiverKings featured non-profit feature, a representative from The Bodine School will drop the puck before the RiverKings game. The Bodine School will also have a table setup on the concourse behind section 117 during the game to auction off a RiverKings autographed hockey stick and pennant.

"We see this event as a friend-raiser," said Keohane. "We just want to increase awareness for the kids and what our school is all about."

For more information on The Bodine School please visit The Bodine School - Home Page.

For more information on tickets for this and future RiverKings' games, call 662-342-1755 or visit riverkings.com: Splash.
 

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Wanchulak returns, Stoddard granted leave

SOUTHAVEN --- The Memphis RiverKings announced today that the team has activated forward Brad Wanchulak and that forward Darrell Stoddard has been granted leave by the Central Hockey League for personal reasons.

Wanchulak started this season in the Dutch Elite League, but had also signed a contract with the RiverKings prior to going to Europe, allowing the RiverKings to retain his rights in the event that he returned. In 19 games with the Heerenveen Flyers, the Edson, Alberta native scored 14 goals and had 26 assists. During the summer, he played in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) with the Adelaide Avalanche, where he led the team in scoring with 53 points (26 goals/27 assists) in 23 games.

Last season, Wanchulak played the final 14 games of the season with the RiverKings. He scored eight goals and assisted on six others in those games. Before signing with the RiverKings, he was with Phoenix (ECHL), Pee Dee (SPHL) and Greenville (ECHL) during his rookie season. Prior to last season, he played college hockey at Division I Notre Dame.

Wanchulak practiced with the team today (Wednesday) and is expected to play this weekend when the RiverKings travel to Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Both games will start at 7:35 and will be heard on Sports56 WHBQ (AM 560).

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A RiverKings game is even more fun when you come as a group. Groups of 15 or more save up to 30% on the box office rate, plus every person in the group receives a player mini bobblehead. Call 662-342-1755 for more information.

Don't miss the next Kevin McClelland Show on Tuesday, January 2 LIVE from Beef O' Brady's in Southaven from 6-7 on Sports 56 WHBQ.

RiverKings Single-Game Tickets for all 2006-2007 home games are on sale now at the DeSoto Civic Center box office and at all TicketMaster locations and at ticketmaster.com.

UPCOMING PROMOTIONS: Sunday, January 7 --- Post Game Skate with Players; Tuesday, January 9 --- WMC TV Channel 5 CheerStix to first 1,500 fans; Friday, January 12 --- Cellular South Darrell Stoddard Mini Bobbleheads to first 1,500 fans; Post Game Skate; Friday, January 19 --- RiverKings Drawstring Backpacks to the first 1,500 fans; Post Game Skate

After every RiverKings home game, the party heads to the new Buffalo Wild Wings on Airways in Southaven, the official Post Game Hang-Out of the RiverKings.
 

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Hall of Fame wrestler Sgt. Slaughter visits here

There'll be a Slaughter at Santa Ana Star Center Saturday evening, but that doesn't mean the home-team Scorpions are poised to thrash the visiting Arizona Sundogs.

The Slaughter on hand to greet fans and sign autographs, even putting some of them into headlocks, is world famous wrestler Sgt. Slaughter.

The four-time world heavyweight champion is the second famous wrestler to visit the Star Center.

Mick "Mankind" Foley was the first; he was here on Nov. 3 for "WWE Night." The Scorpions went on to beat Youngstown that evening.

When Slaughter, born Robert Remus in 1956 visits Saturday, also hoping to spark the Scorpions to victory, he'll be here as the featured guest of "Salute to the Military Night."

On the ice, the Scorpions will play host to the Arizona Sundogs at 7:05 p.m.

Ticket prices have been slashed: $18 tickets will be sold for $11, although the deadline to take advantage of that promotion is 5 p.m. on Friday. (Call 891-7341 for ticket orders.)

Sgt Slaughter, who spent six years in the Marine Corps, spoke to The Observer by telephone on New Year's Day, when he was in Miami as a producer of the weekly "WWE Raw" television show.

This won't be his first trip to New Mexico, where he had several enjoyable wrestling experiences, just his most recent.

"The fans really know wrestling, they've watched it so many years," he said. "(Albuquerque) is an enjoyable place."

Through his career, he's also been known in the ring as Super Destroyer Mark II, Matt Burns, Bob Remus and Bob Slaughter. He turned 58 last Aug. 27 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 13, 2004. He has wrestled on TV as recently as last October.

He's no stranger to Central Hockey League rinks, having appeared in Lubbock on Veterans Day, here on Saturday, and in Prescott Valley, Ariz., next month.

"He's the no. 1 guy in minor league sports for military night; he's the best guy," said his agent, Jonathan Gold. "I've been promoting him since 1984. ... Everybody knows the Sarge; he's as well known as Hulk Hogan. He does at least 50 of these a year."

"I always wanted to be a wrestler," Slaughter said. "I watched it Saturday nights in Minnesota. My parents couldn't afford to send me to college. My father was a roofer and I helped him."

Slaughter may have stayed a roofer until he accompanied a sportswriter friend to a Minnesota wrestling camp for a story.

"I recognized a few; one of them was Ric Flair -- I used to beat him all the time in high school," Slaughter. Curiosity got the better of him, one thing led to another, including a victory over Flair at the camp, and before he knew it, he became a pro wrestler, with his career beginning in 1974.

"I was very good in high school," Slaughter said of his days at Eden Prairie High, where he was an All-State heavyweight wrestler and a two-time MVP on the football team. "(Former Minnesota Vikings coach) Bud Grant's son coaches there," he added.

Toy manufacturer Hasbro identified his charismatic traits when it created a Sgt Slaughter doll, the first and only individual to be so recognized among all other "G.I. Joe" action figures and animated cartoon characters. In Sgt Slaughter's debut year with G.I. Joe, Hasbro not only enjoyed record-breaking sales in that year, but also became the most successful company in all toy-manufacturing history.

Never one to turn down an autograph request, Slaughter was asked about the strangest autograph requests he's had in the past 30-plus years.

"Four different times, it wasn't what I signed, it was where I signed," he said.

Where was that?

"I was in the bathroom doing my thing, something was slipped under the door and (somebody) asked to have it signed," he said. "That was probably one of the strangest places. And Mickey Mantle wanted me to sign my name on his bat. And when I was at Dan Marino's golf tournament one time, I said to my wife, 'There's Johnny Unitas.' I was standing in line and he saw me, he said, 'Sgt. Slaughter, come over here. I'm a big fan.' 'I used to want to be you,'" Slaughter said he told the legendary Baltimore Colts signal-caller. "Playing in the neighborhood, I was always Johnny Unitas."

The meetings with Mantle and Unitas were big thrills, but nothing like the encounters he's had with six presidents.

"One of my big thrills," he said, "came when I was in Washington, D.C., where I was invited by President Reagan's people to be at a dinner thing to raise money for his campaign. There were about 200 celebrity athletes that were honored."

Later, after a group photo, the Sarge was asked to meet Reagan in person.

"The Secret Service (agent) said, 'Follow me,' and my wife and I went around a corner and there was President Reagan standing at attention. 'Sgt. Slaughter, I always wanted to meet you. As a matter of fact, I'm going to drop down and give you 10 pushups,' he said. The Secret Service said no, (and also told him) a headlock was not appropriate."

Reagan's apparent fascination for Slaughter didn't end there. That same evening, he recalled, Reagan asked him to be a special guest on the dais and said, "If the Democrats think they're going to beat us, it'd be like Beaver Cleaver beating my friend, Sgt. Slaughter," Slaughter said, laughing at the memory. "He later said goodbye to me, and signed a speech to me. I still have it."

He also has met presidents Nixon, whom he also learned was a great admirer of his, plus both Bushes, Carter and Clinton. He never met the late Pres. Gerald Ford.

Nixon told him how much he'd enjoyed seeing "that thing against the Iron Sheik and the pledge of allegiance; the whole cabinet stood up and did it with you."

As much as he'll enjoy his whirlwind trip to Rio Rancho and meeting more fans, Slaughter said, "probably the most rewarding visits" he makes are the trips to children's and veterans hospitals.

"I'm just coming in to do the game, then to Kansas City; I fly out Sunday morning," he said.

Try not to ask for an autograph request if you see Sarge in a bathroom Saturday evening.

Let him do his business, before giving him time to take care of your request.

That's not too much to ask, and neither is a headlock.
 

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RiverKings trade skates for bowling shoes on January 21

SOUTHAVEN, MS --- The Memphis RiverKings will show off their bowling skills when the team hosts its annual "RiverKings of the Alley" on January 21 at 3 pm. The RiverKings With A Cause (KWAC) event will take place at Cotton Bowl Lanes at the corner of Stateline Road and Highway 51 in Southaven. Through a silent auction benefiting KWAC, fans will have a chance to bowl with their favorite RiverKings player or even Head Coach Kevin McClelland.

From 3 to 5 pm, the fans and players will bowl three games of what is called "Cosmic Bowling." For "Cosmic Bowling," the lights are turned down and, with a combination of lights and music, a whole different bowling atmosphere is created.

"This is a fun way for the fans to interact with the players and raise money for charity at the same time," KWAC coordinator Cristin Franklin said.

Each player and Coach McClelland will have their own bowling lane. Up to five fans will be able to bowl with a player or the coach on a given lane. Shoe rental will be included with each winning bid. There will also be a raffle and prize giveaways during the event as well.

The silent auction will take place at the KWAC table on the DCC concourse behind section 118 beginning with the RiverKings' game on January 7. Bidding will close at the RiverKings' 2 p.m. game on January 20.

Call Cristin in the RiverKings office at 662-342-1755 for more information.
 

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Bees kick off 2007 on the road

In the standings

The Bees stand are 12-14-3 (27 points) on the season and rank fourth in the Southeast Division. Laredo leads the division Southern Conference with 40 points. Rio is within arms reach of Austin (28 points) and Corpus Christi (33 points).

Coming Up

It's another weekend of Southeast Division games and another chance for the Bees to close the gap on Austin and Corpus Christi. Rio will get right back to work on Tuesday, January 9 at home vs. Austin.

Tuesday, January 9, is 2-for-1 night at the Dodge Arena. Tickets, hot dogs and soft drinks will all two fo the proce of one! For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Bees office at (956) 843-PUCK or log on to Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

The Killer Bees Second Annual Fan Fest takes place Saturday, January 13 from 1-5 p.m, at the Presidio Shopping Plaza on North 10th and Martin in McAllen. Keep an eye on killerbeehockey.com for more information.

Broadcasts

All Bees games, home and away, can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1240 AM (conflicts on Jammin' 104.9/95.3 FM), or online through at killerbeehockey.com with the Voice of the Bees Rich Bocchini. Saturday home games are telecast on Televisa (XERV-9, Cable 19). All home games, and most road games, are streamed at chltv.com.

Holiday Packs still available

It's never too late to fulfill the needs of the hockey fan in your life with the gift of Killer Bees hockey. The Bees are offering two vouchers to any game during the second half of the season and a Bees T-shirt for just $40.

Last Week:

Fri 12/29 Laredo 3, Bees 2 (SO)

Sat 12/30 Laredo 6, Bees 2

Sun 12/31 Laredo 4, Bees 2

This Week:

Fri 1/5 at Corpus Christi

Sat 1/6 at Austin

Sun 1/7 at Laredo
 

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Rage and Cotton Kings Swing Blockbuster Deal

01/03/07 - Central Hockey League (CHL) Rocky Mountain Rage

Rocky Mountain Rage
Broomfield, Colo. - The Rocky Mountain Rage traded co-leading scorer Anders Strome to the Lubbock Cotton Kings yesterday in exchange for left wing Trevor Weisgerber, who departs Lubbock as that club's second-leading point man.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 lbs., Weisgerber (pr: WISE-gerber) collected 23 points (10g-13a) in 28 games with the Cotton Kings and is reunited with Rage head coach Tracy Egeland, who coached the fifth-year pro last season when both were with the Rio Grande Valley (Texas) Killer Bees. During his one campaign with the Killer Bees, Weisgerber set franchise records for most points (63) and assists (43) in a single season. Following a collegiate career at Lake Superior State, the native of Vibank, Saskatchewan, turned pro with the Oklahoma City Blazers in 2002-03 and was soon traded to the San Angelo (Texas) Saints. In just two-and-a-half seasons with the Saints, Weisgerber became the team's all-time leading scorer with 131 points (56g-75a) in 135 games played before the franchise ceased operations after the 2004-05 season.

"I'm excited to have Trevor back on my team," said Egeland. "He was our leading scorer last year and is a good player that will help us in a number of areas. But to get a player of his caliber, you certainly need to give up something of high value. I believe both Lubbock and us are going to benefit from this trade, and both players will benefit from a change of scenery."

Strome leaves the Rage with a team-leading 13 goals and tied with CHL All-Star Mark Wires for the team's top spot in points with 22 through 27 games. This will be his second stint in Lubbock. Strome was traded to the Cotton Kings from the Wichita Thunder mid-way through his rookie campaign in 2003-04 and proceeded to register 76 points (45g-31a) in 85 games over the course of a season-and-a-half.

The Rage return to the ice looking for their third straight win on Thursday, Jan. 4, when they host the Youngstown SteelHounds at Broomfield Event Center at 7:05 p.m.

Single-game tickets for all Rage home games are on sale with prices ranging from $15-$40 per seat. Tickets may be purchased online at broomfieldeventcenter.com: Home, by calling 303-410-TIXS, or at the Broomfield Event Center box office (11450 Broomfield Ln., Broomfield, 80021). Season tickets, mini-packs, and group plans are also available for the 2006-07 season by calling 303-439-RAGE. For more information, visit Rocky Mountain Rage.
 

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School Day game set

For the second straight season, the Tulsa Oilers are teaming with the Tulsa Public Schools to present a school day game. This year's contest will be against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs on Tuesday March 6th, and will begin at 10:05 a.m.

Last season, approximately 5,000 school children (and a total of 6,180 fans) attended the first American Airlines/Transport Workers Union Local 514 school day game, on February 7th.

"The energy in the building that day was incredible," Oilers coach Butch Kaebel said. "It certainly wasn't a problem to get up for the game. And it was great after the game when we'd get out in the community and meet kids who had gone to the game, or their parents, and they'd tell us how much they appreciated it."

The Oilers play at Bossier-Shreveport Friday night, in a game that can be heard on KRVT AM 1270 and via the internet at The Official Site of the Tulsa Oilers . Saturday the Oilers host the Memphis RiverKings at 7:35 in Tulsa World Family Pack night, and Elvis night.

Sunday, the Oilers host the Oklahoma City Blazers at 3 p.m. in a make-up game from December 1st. Tickets from the December 1st game will be honored Sunday. Tickets are available at the Carson Attraction box office located in the Tulsa Convention Center, all Drug Mart locations and by calling (918) 584-2000.
 

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Oilers have new home in 2007

Starting next October, the Tulsa Oilers and Tulsa 66ers will get to know each other intimately. The Central Hockey League franchise is expected to share Expo Square Pavilion with the NBA Development League team before completion of the BOK Center in 2008.

Renovation of Convention Center Arena is planned to start in August and must be completed by September 2008, when a convention is scheduled to occupy the building. That leaves the Oilers out in the cold looking for a home and their is only one suitable site.

Oilers general manager Corey MacIntyre said the Pavilion will seat approximately 4,400 for hockey, leaving tickets in high demand. He expects the team to play in front of sold-out venues almost every game. However, the logistical side of the issue could cause a problem for the Oilers, especially equipment manager Steve Enlow.

The team will use the Oilers Ice Center for practices, but equipment must be hauled to the Pavilion every game since there will be no permanent locker room space.

"I've been talking to the county and they may make upgrades to the locker rooms," said MacIntyre. "They may possibly do some things for better storage. We won't play home games at the Ice Center, but the positive thing is this is only for one year."

One of the biggest headaches for the Oilers could be the availability of playing dates. As the primary tenant, the 66ers have first call on the dates they want, including prime weekends, and the Oilers must take the leftovers. MacIntyre said that may not be as distasteful as it seems.

"They play 24 home games a season and we start in October, a month before they do," he said. "Last year I think we conflicted four times (in home games) and I'm hopeful that will be the case again. We'll play six or eight home games before they start. Those weekends they're on the road, we will schedule our games at home."

David Kahn, owner of the 66ers, said he expects the D-League schedule to be completed in plenty of time for the Oilers to plan their CHL slate. He said last season there was a hangup due to the Los Angeles Lakers and their D-League affiliate the D-Fenders. Since the minor league team plays doubleheader home games with the Lakers, the D-League had to wait until mid-July when the Lakers completed their NBA schedule.

"We understand that it's the earlier the better," said Kahn. "At a minimum we should be provided a rough understanding by June 30 of the dates we'll need. I don't think there should be a hardship on us (co-existing with the Oilers). We have priority in our lease and I'm sure we'll have some discussions with the folks who run the Pavilion. I think we will be well protected as the anchor tenant."

There will be some perks for long-time Oilers fans such as free parking. From the franchise's standpoint, the one-year change of venue could have repercussions.

"I'm not sure how it will affect us financially. Hopefully it won't, but we'll have to see how it goes once we get in there," said MacIntyre. "We'll see how ticket sales go. I expect the majority of the games to be sellouts because we won't increase ticket prices. We will increase them once we go to the BOK Center."
 

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Chl Report

LINE CHANGE

The old magic simply didn't return, so coach Mark French is adjusting his lines again.

Thunder veterans Joe Blaznek, Travis Clayton and Jason Duda were an imposing trio last season, combining for a league-high 269 points.

French wanted to spread the team's scoring out, so he split up the veterans at the start of the current season. But when the Thunder went through a prolonged scoring slump, French reunited the players.

Surprisingly, the move didn't produce the expected impact.

"On paper and based on last year's numbers, it looked good, but we weren't generating anything from it," French said. "We gave them a little bit of time, and it didn't work, so we'll try to find a little chemistry with some other guys."

Clayton and Duda, the top scorers in franchise history, are now being teamed with Scott Rozendal, whose numbers are vastly improved from last season.

"He's been playing well in terms of bringing a lot of energy, so I wanted to give him a chance with those guys," French said.

Blaznek joins Kris Wiebe and centerman Ryan Lauzon. French likes the speed of Blaznek and Lauzon combined with the strength of Wiebe.

"In theory, Lauzon and Blaznek should be a very dynamic twosome, with Wiebe being a very gritty guy," French said. "I like the makeup of those guys together."

In Sunday's victory over Tulsa, Blaznek had three assists, Lauzon had a goal and an assist, and Wiebe chipped in a goal.

"When you're not scoring, you've got to tinker with the lineup a little bit," said Lauzon, who has 11 points in his past nine games. "We have some good forwards, so it doesn't really matter who you play with.

"It is nice having Blaz on the line, but you have to go out there and play well no matter who's on your line."

SLAPSHOTS

• Youngstown will take a big hit with the apparent loss of All-Star defenseman Paul Esdale (26 points, plus 9). Esdale, who scored 69 points for the Thunder is 2004-05, was placed on team suspension by Youngstown on Tuesday.

• The Thunder's victory over Tulsa snapped a four-game losing streak and was much needed, but French is taking a cautious approach. "We haven't turned the corner until we put a few wins together," he said.

• With two goals on Friday at Colorado, Clayton passed Don Parsons for fourth on the CHL goal-scoring list with 291.

PLUS

The Thunder's penalty kill unit has killed 20 of 21 power-play opportunities in the past five games. That impressive work has included four games against three teams that are dangerous with the man advantage: two games against Colorado (second in the league at 22.2 percent); Tulsa (third, 22.1); and Memphis (fourth, 21.7).

MINUS

After giving up a shorthanded goal in four straight goals -- a streak that finally ended against Tulsa on Sunday -- the Thunder is tied for the league lead in shorties allowed with nine.

TAP OF THE STICK

The fashion police probably didn't approve and our retinas are still recovering, but assistant coach Ben Murphy deserves an assist in the win over Tulsa for the extremely bright yellow pants he wore behind the bench. With the Thunder struggling and, as they say in hockey, gripping the sticks a little too tight, Murphy was trying to lighten the mood. "The guys were all over me before the game, which is good," Murphy said with a grin. Don't expect a team-wide trend. "I don't think I could pull those off," Lauzon said.

PENALTY BOX

Thanks to the CHL schedule maker, fans of the two Colorado teams aren't being treated to much variety. The Colorado Eagles and expansion Rocky Mountain Rage have already played each other nine times. Colorado has won seven of the meetings.

DEFINING DIGIT

16

Number of penalty minutes the Thunder is averaging in the past five games -- a marked difference compared to the 32.48 season average.

HE SAID IT

"I don't think it's an issue. The goal isn't to put together the 18 most likable guys in the world; The goal is to put 18 competitors in the room who will play hard together, be unselfish and have that will to win."

--French, when asked if off-ice chemistry was a concern with the team.
 

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SteelHounds Weekly Report

Hounds Win Battles but Lose War to Kings

To say it was a playoff like atmosphere last weekend when the SteelHounds played the Memphis Riverkings would be an understatement. The Hounds drew their largest gates of the year and these two teams played tooth and nail with Youngstown winning three fights over the weekend. The fisticuffs was one thing but the scoreboard turned out to be another as Memphis swept the Hounds over the weekend with a 6-5 shootout win on Friday night and a 5-3 victory on Saturday night. The losses drop the Hounds to third place in the division as they trail Bossier-Shreveport by one point. Y-Town played good enough to win with Brad Patterson netting a hat trick on Friday night but in the end it would be Memphis pulling out goals when they needed to. With the game tied at three on Saturday night, Ryan Campbell put in two big goals including an empty netter late in the third period to seal the fate of the SteelHounds.

What's on Tap-Winter Wonderland in Colorado

The Hounds will play three games in three days starting Thursday night when they are at the Rocky Mountain Rage. As everybody knows the weather in Colorado has been a disaster over the last couple of weeks. The Hounds will need to dress warm and get hot as not only do they have to catch Memphis but Bossier as well. The Hounds weekend will only get tougher as Friday night they take on the number one team in the league, the Colorado Eagles. Saturday night they go where hopefully the weather will be a little nicer but the hockey will be just as tough when they are at the Amarillo Gorillas who have won four straight games.

Say Hello to Mr. Anderson

Over the weekend the Youngstown SteelHounds acquired the services of bad-boy, Dallas Anderson. Anderson led the CHL in penalty minutes back in 2001-2002 with 378 when he was a member of the Tulsa Oilers. The 6ft6, 228 pounder from Manitoba made his presence known as in the second period he laid a beating on Memphis defenseman, Will Bodine. In one game played he has seven penalty minutes.

By the Numbers (through Jan. 1)

The SteelHounds are scattered throughout the league leaders in many categories both as a team and individually:

Team:

6-5-2 for December

34 points-Tied for fourth in CHL

103 goals- Tied for fourth in CHL

17 Road Points-Tied for second in CHL

3.68 Goals Per Game-Fourth in CHL

3.43 Goals Against Per Game-12th in CHL

Individual:

Jeff Christian: 53 points (first in CHL), 36 assists (first in CHL). Has league leading point streak at 15 games

Chris Richards: 50 points (second in CHL), 32 assists (second in CHL)

Paul Esdale: 26 points (seventh amongst defensemen), seven goals (third amongst defensemen)

Jeff Alcombrack: 21 points (13th amongst defensemen)

Stay Up Late on the Fan

Before you go to bed this weekend make sure you listen to the SteelHounds at 9:05pm EST, Thursday night @ Rocky Mountain and Friday night @ Colorado. Go to bed knowing you just got done hearing a great game of hockey on ESPN Radio 1240-The Fan.

F.Y.I.

Brad Patterson recorded the teams first hat trick of the season on Friday night against Memphis

Jeff Christian's goal on Saturday night was his first in three games as he kept the point streak alive with six assists in games against Austin and Memphis

Elvis Jersey's went a sailing as Paul Esdale's jersey sold for over $2,000 during Saturday night's auction

Hounds finish home stand 5-32 (15.6%) on power play

Hounds finish home stand 20-24 (83.3%) on penalty kill

Youngstown will play 12 games in the Month of January, seven on the road
 

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Hounds Make Roster Moves Prior to Six-Game Road Trip

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO - Youngstown SteelHounds Head Coach Kevin Kaminski announced today that the team has made several roster moves prior to heading out on their six-game road trip that begins on Thursday night versus the Rocky Mountain Rage. Forward Joey Sewell has been moved from the 45-day injured reserve to the season-ending injured reserve, defenseman Josh Reed has been placed on the 45-day injured reserve and defenseman Paul Esdale has left the team and has subsequently been placed on the team's suspended list.

The Hounds have placed Esdale on the suspended list meaning his rights in the Central Hockey League still belong to Youngstown. The defenseman has left the team electing to play in Germany. The Edmonton native was recently named to the Northern Conference All-Star team and led the Hounds defense corp. with 26 points (9-27=26).

Reed injured himself in the Hounds 5-3 loss on Saturday night at home versus the Memphis RiverKings. He is expected to be out until mid-February. The rookie defenseman has three assists and 79 penalty minutes in 25 games.

Sewell was placed on the 45-day injured reserve back in mid-November but has since been ruled unable to play for the remainder of the 2006-07 season. In six games, the forward scored three goals with six assists.

The SteelHounds are on the road until Friday, January 19th when they host the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs at the Chevrolet Centre.

For more information contact the SteelHounds Media Relations department at (330) 747-PUCK (7825) or visit the team's online home at Youngstown SteelHounds Hockey, Central Hockey League, Youngstown, Ohio.

--steelhounds.com--

***Fans, also be sure to visit Youngstown SteelHounds Hockey, Central Hockey League, Youngstown, Ohio and sign up for your own page on mysteelhounds.com through ONE Site. The new feature is an online community where fans can interact with players, front office staff members and other fans from around the CHL.

***Don't forget that each and every Monday night is Hounds Happy Hour on ESPN Radio, 1240-The Fan. Join host Tim Sampsell as he wraps up the teams action from the previous week, takes a look ahead to the coming week and interviews some of the top names from the Hounds and around the CHL.
 
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