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US Cellular Coliseum Hires New PR Director

Bryan Bloodworth has been named the Director of Media/Public Relations for Central Illinois Arena Management, which oversees operation of the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in downtown Bloomington , it was announced Thursday by Vice President and General Manager Jerry McBurney .

Bloodworth will be responsible for handling all media matters relating to the Coliseum, Bloomington Extreme indoor football team and Bloomington PrairieThunder ice hockey team. He also will serve as the primary liaison with the media relations departments of the United Indoor Football League and the United Hockey League.

Bloodworth, a 1979 graduate of Illinois State University in Mass Communications, has been the sports editor of the Bloomington Pantagraph the last 18 years and a member of the sports staff for 29 years. The Pantagraph sports department has won numerous awards under his leadership, including Illinois Press Association Sports Section of the Year in 2002.

"It's a new and exciting challenge that I am looking forward to'' said the 50-year-old Bloodworth. "It allows me to stay in the sports field and work closely with the many friends I have made and worked with in the media throughout Central Illinois for a number of years. "

Jerry McBurney, Vice President and General Manager of the Extreme and PrairieThunder, said Bloodworth brings instant credibility to the position.

"We're obviously thrilled to have someone as known in the community as Bryan joins us," McBurney said. "His expertise makes him the perfect fit to handle all of our media relations on behalf of the Extreme, the PrairieThunder and the Coliseum."

"Bryan's experience in sports journalism will be invaluable, especially to the Extreme and PrairieThunder. We feel very fortunate to have Bryan as a part of our organization," said McBurney.

Bloodworth, a native of Marshall (Ill.), resides in Normal with hid wife, Lisa. They are the parents of Cori (21), Blake (19) and Annie (17).
 

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No cuts as Mallards camp closes

With three players shelved by injuries and another still at home in the Ukraine, decisions made themselves on the final day of Quad-City Mallards training camp Thursday.

The Mallards will start the season Saturday in Muskegon, Mich., without third-year forward Tim Plett, rookie defenseman Marcus Reszka and, likely, without veteran forward Jeff Petruic.

All three sat out a Thursday morning practice at The Mark of the Quad-Cities. Missing too, of course, was veteran defenseman Andrei Lupandin, who has yet to arrive from his overseas home.

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Sports editor to tackle new task

Bryan Bloodworth isn't leaving the sports media business. He's just moving into a new role. Bloodworth has resigned as Pantagraph sports editor to become director of Media/Public Relations for Central Illinois Arena Management, which oversees operation of the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in downtown Bloomington. His resignation is effective Oct. 28.

The 50-year-old Bloodworth joined the Pantagraph sports staff in 1976 and has served as editor since 1988. The Pantagraph sports department has won numerous awards under his leadership, including the Illinois Press Association Sports Section of the Year in 2002.

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Big plans to start out strong

Tyler Rennette is not surprised by the type of team that has been assembled for the initial season of ice hockey for the Bloomington PrairieThunder.

"I'm not surprised because Derek (head coach Derek Booth) has a great hockey knowledge," said Rennette. "He keeps ties on guys and they will come play for him. A lot of us have played with him and for him before."

The PrairieThunder make its franchise debut today in a 6:30 p.m. United Hockey League contest at Muskegon (Mich.) before playing its first home game Saturday at 7:05 p.m. against Fort Wayne at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum.

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JJackals open season tonight against defending champs

For first-year Elmira Jackals head coach Kris Waltze and the team's almost entirely new roster, you wouldn't think they'd want to begin a new era under tonight's circumstances.

Coming to town are the Kalamazoo Wings, who reached the pinnacle of the United Hockey League last season by capturing the Colonial Cup championship for the first time in franchise history. Add in the fact that it's Friday the 13th, and tonight's game doesn't seem to bode well for the Jackals.

But flip the coin over and you realize this could be the perfect opening game for Elmira. After a 27-42-7 record in a disastrous 2005-06 season, Elmira has the opportunity to wipe away all those bad memories by putting on a solid performance in front of the home fans at First Arena.

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Jackals much-needed start from scratch can return winners to fans at First Arena.

The start of season No. 7 for the Elmira Jackals tonight might have a touch of deja vu for fans who faithfully trudged to First Arena in November 2000 to see the city's first pro hockey team in its home opener.

Nearly six years later there are stark similarities. A new coach, new general manager, new faces in uniform, fresh paint in the building and clean carpeting in the restaurant. Except for the bricks and mortar, you could say tonight's game against the United Hockey League champion, Kalamazoo, is a fresh beginning.

Even the lines on the ice and some rules of the game are new.

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Overhauled Jackals

The names might not be familiar to Elmira Jackals fans, but those are just some of the players who make up the strongest preseason roster Elmira's United Hoc-key League franchise has boasted since the 2001-02 season. Today at First Arena, they'll try to ease the sting of two straight playoff-less seasons in a 7:30 p.m. season-opening game against defending Colonial Cup champion Kalamazoo.

“We definitely have pressure to win because everyone knows the last two seasons they've had here,” said first-year Jackals coach Kris Waltze. “We have the team on paper, so we have to get everyone to jell and prove what we're all about.”

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K’s like versatile all-star

The biggest trade of the offseason for the Fort Wayne Komets didn’t involve them giving up a player.

But it did bring them an all-star.

Kevin Hansen, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound defenseman, was acquired by the Komets on June 20, as compensation for Greg Puhalski, the coach who left Fort Wayne after six seasons to lead the expansion Chicago Hounds.

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Snow signals Komets season

It’s hockey season! Time to dig out the bright orange attire and cheer for the Fort Wayne Komets. And it appears Fort Wayne hockey fans have good reason to be excited – it looks as if the K’s are skating on solid ice.

The team kicks off its 55th season today at Rockford, Ill. The first game on home ice will be Oct. 21.

This year the hockey season brings with it a new coach and new rules. The Komets are the fifth team that Pat Bingham, 38, has coached. Bingham’s previous experience as an uncompromising defenseman should sit well with Komets fans as will his impressive record of winning seasons.

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Puhalski’s complex systems may take players a while to grasp

With Greg Puhalski as coach, the Fort Wayne Komets were known for rough starts until December before dominating the rest of the schedule. The last four years, the Komets won three division titles and finished second last season. The one time they got off to a good start, going 12-4-5 in 2001-02, they missed the playoffs.

That was because it took new players a while to adapt to Puhalski’s systems. Players like to play their own way, meaning they clashed with Puhalski earlybefore giving his way a try and realizing it worked.

The same may happen to the Komets this season under Pat Bingham. His systems are more complex and require players to think even faster on their skates; only four have played for him previously.

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Quebec players fill K’s roster

Returning Komets forward Jonathan Goodwin called a team official this summer and joked that he needed to know where to take French lessons.

“I should be pretty good at it by the end of the year,” Goodwin said.

Actually, all the French-Canadian players might make the Komets pretty good by the end of the year. Fort Wayne brought 12 players from Quebec to training camp, and most of them made the season-opening roster.

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Swinging the sticks in K'zoo

Tom Askey hates losing.

That gives him that extra edge when he's in goal, this year for the Kalamazoo Wings.

But on the golf course, he usually comes in second to his wife, Kelly, who is a PGA teaching pro.

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Flags seek fast start

The Port Huron Flags aren't that concerned about setting a tone for the rest of the season tonight and Saturday when they open up their regular season against the Flint Generals.

They're more interested in winning.

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Former NHL player takes top spot on bench

As his players stretched Wednesday during a break in practice, Stan Drulia took a few shots from the blue line.

The first shot from the new Port Huron Flags hockey coach hit the net in the top right corner. The second found the middle of the net.

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Season eight starts just a little later

The Rockford IceHogs’ eighth season at the MetroCentre begins today at 7:30 p.m., 25 minutes later than the starting time in previous years. Why the switch? So fans can get home from work, round up the kids and get to the game on time.

The 7:30 p.m. starting time this year is only for Friday and Wednesday games; on Saturdays, it’s still 7:05 p.m.

Tonight, the IceHogs, who were in the United Hockey League playoffs last season, play the Fort Wayne Komets. All told, the ’Hogs play 76 games this season, including 38 home games. Average attendance at home games last year was 3,973.

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Rockford IceHogs season preview

The Rockford IceHogs’ game plan can be summed up in one word.

Intimidation.

“We’re going to make it crystal clear,” coach Steve Martinson said. “We’re going to come at everybody as aggressively as we can without taking penalties. We’re going to forecheck and we’re going to try to pound the other team’s defense shift in and shift out.”

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