Diamonds and Ice

Quad City Flames hitting the road. Is he USHL next there?

Well, it’s official. The parent Calgary Flames have released the Quad City Flames from their obligation to provide Calgary an American Hockey League franchise for their players to develop in. The team is officially don after this season, which ends in April.

It’s bewildering how an area that went to nuts over the Quad City Mallards for all those years could simply ignore a higher quality product. Guys in the AHL have already played in the NHL  and are just a phone call from going back there. It’s wonderful hockey.

So now what with the Quad Cities. There has been some talk that it could get a team and join the United States Hockey League. It’s a geographic fit, for sure, though it’s hard to imagine the public down there thinking junior hockey is all the rage after failing to support an AHL team.

At any rate, here’s a story from the Quad City Times on the future of hockey in the area:

Leaders say Q-C hockey has future after Flames

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By Craig DeVrieze | Thursday, March 12, 2009 7:42 PM CDT | (


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The hockey doctor senses a pulse.

“I don’t think hockey is dead in the Quad-Cities,” said Howard Cornfield, architect of the Quad-City Mallards’ mad success from 1997 through the middle portion of this decade. “It’s injured right now.”

The American Hockey League’s Quad-City Flames will limp out of town in April, a victim of too few fans and too much expense.

Hockey attendance is at an all-time low in the Quad-Cities this season, at 2,967 a game, or barely a third of the fans who packed the building when Cornfield’s Mallards averaged 8,646 in 1997-1998.

Cornfield and others think those decade-old numbers still are proof that hockey should resurface at the i wireless Center, perhaps even in the form of another American Hockey League team.

When that should happen is subject to debate.

Scott Mullen, executive director of the iwC, wants hockey back in his building at the earliest possible juncture.

“I am a hockey guy and I want hockey in the Quad-Cities,” Mullen said Thursday from southern California, where he was on arena business. “That is one of our top priorities. We worked hard to get the AHL to come. We want hockey in the building.”

In fact, the Quad-City Civic Center Authority  invested more than $700,000 in bringing the rink and the arena up to AHL standards when Quad-Cities Sports Ventures and Calgary announced plans to bring the AHL here in the spring of 2007.

The arena’s lease with QCSV calls for the Q-C Flames ownership group to repay that money if it didn’t complete the five-year term of the lease. So lead QCSV partner Dennis Voss is anxious to find a new tenant willing to assume those final three years.

But who?

Voss said potential expansion of the International Hockey League, which formed from the remnants of the United Hockey League QCSV left behind two years ago, could include the Quad-Cities.

IHL president Paul Pickard said that’s something his league would welcome — “if there’s ownership interest.”

Cornfield, who has contacts throughout the minor league hockey world, said he knows of a couple groups looking to get into the hockey business.

But the IHL, currently a six-team league with a couple of teams in distress, isn’t an option he would recommend, he said.

Geographically, he said the AHL makes the most sense, but it might be too late at this juncture to attract the interest of any NHL teams looking for a place to move an affiliate.

NHL Edmonton has a dormant franchise. Still unannounced is which AHL franchise will move to Austin, Texas, next year as a Dallas Stars affiliate.

Another option that might be in the works is to bring a high-level junior team from the United States Hockey League.

Mullen said that might not be the best option, after having exposed Q-C fans to hockey a level shy of the NHL.

“I can’t say it would be ruled out, but a building our size would seek a higher level professional team,” he said.

Perhaps the best option, Cornfield said, is to allow the patient some time to rehabilitate.

“It is not a good time for hockey in our town right now,” he said.  “I think similar to other markets that have gone away and come back to life, this market probably has to heal for a year or two and you’ll certainly see some interest.

“The building is too good. The fan base is too good.”

Cornfield said if an AHL team decided now to play here in 2010-2011, it could spend all of next winter re-preparing the market.

“Hopefully, they open an office in September and start working their tails off selling hockey here,” he said.

The best marketing tool Cornfield and others can think of?


At the height of their popularity, the Mallards won three Colonial Cup championships and they reached the finals six out of seven seasons.

The Flames failed to make the AHL playoffs last year and are battling for the final spot in the West Division field right now.

“I don’t know that the league matters much,” Voss said of the potential next Q-C hockey crew, “as long its a first or second-place team.”




Record crowd sees RoughRiders blanked (with quotes)

Didn’t have the chance to talk to anyone for quotes in Sunday’s newspaper story on the RoughRiders-Waterloo game Saturday night, but here’s some player-coach thoughts for my blog.

It was a record crowd of 4,359 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, by the way. Sure, there were the usual pockets of Waterloo fans, but to see a full arena anytime is a great, great thing. This is a good hockey city, with the chance to be a very good one if the ownership of the team can ever get figured out.

Hello, Butch Johnson. Would you be interested in re-purchasing the club?Anyway, I digress …

Here are some of head coach Mark Carlson’s thoughts on last night’s 5-0 loss. Waterloo scored four times in the third period to put away a game that was anyone’s heading to the final 20 minutes. Eriah Hayes scored twice in the period, Craig Smith had a goal and so did Matt Johnson for the Black Hawks. Jordan Samuels-Thomas started the scoring late in the first period. Goaltender Parker Milner picked up his first USHL shutout with a 23-save effort.

“They scored the second goal (of the game) there in the third period, and, obviously that was a big one,” Carlson said. “Whoever got that second one, that was going to be a big one.  Smith had the wrist shot there to make ie 3-0, and we kind of had some problems from there.”

There were 11 penalties called in the first period, with nine power plays. Carlson was asked about that.

“It was the same for both teams, in terms of special teams. You’ve got to find a way. I just didn’t think we were as poised and controlled as we needed to be in power-play situations. That’s where you need execution.”

Cedar Rapids is 2-4-1 in its last seven games. There’s still a month to go in the United States Hockey League season, meaning these are the “dog days” you always hear about in baseball.

Riders defenseman Paul Phillips and goaltender Mike Johnson were asked about playing games this time of year.

“This is when you’ve really got to bear down,” Phillips said. “This is the toughest part of the season. We’re still fighting for a playoff spot, working toward that every single day. We go out every night fighting for a playoff spot. This is when you’ve really got to buckle down.”

“It is (the toughest part of the season),” Johnson said. “And the (opposing teams) just keep getting better, too. I think that’s why it’s tougher for everyone. The guys have been playing together for so long, so every team gets that much better. It’s not like one team gets better, they all do.  And you play everybody enough to where you kind of know all about each other.”

The good news Saturday was that the RoughRiders (31-13-5, 67 points) didn’t lose any ground to East Division leader Green Bay. The Gambers (68 points) lost at Des Moines, 3-2, believe it or not, going 0-2 on the weekend. Indiana, which comes to Cedar Rapids for a Tuesday night game, is one point in back of the RoughRiders and two back of Green Bay. Waterloo is suddenly seven points out of first place and six back of the Riders.

The Black Hawks took the lead in the race for the Corridor Cup, seven points to six. There’s one game remaining between the team, in April at Waterloo.

RoughRiders’ sale dead

Have heard from sources that the proposed sale of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to Canadian businessman Gary Gelinas is dead.

Gelinas, who owns a junior team in British Columbia and runs a minor-pro team in New Mexico, had come to an agreement to purchase the local USHL club from current owners Mercantile Capital Partners of Chicago. But before the deal could officially be worked out, OK had to be given by the United States Hockey League.

That did not happen, sources said, with the league questioning Gelinas’ financial viability to run the franchise successfully.

Now it’s back to square one yet again for the RoughRiders. This is the third potential sale that has not gone through. A Chicago businessman was in line to purchase the team last year, but that deal fell through, as did a potential deal with the owners of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.

What this means for the future of the RoughRiders in Cedar Rapids is anyone’s guess, though that future certainly has gotten much more cloudy. The city and Mercantile Capital Partners worked out an extension of an expired lease last year that keeps the team in the City of Five Seasons through next season.

But after that, who knows now?

As soon as we get hold of RR owner Steven Edelson or Gelinas, we’ll let you know what they have to say.

Former RoughRider Purcell has big night
Former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward Teddy Purcell had a pair of goals and two assists to help the Manchester Monarchs to a 6-2 win over Lake Erie in American Hockey League action Saturday night.
Purcell, 23, has 15 goals and 19 assists in 34 games for Manchester, the top farm club of the Los Angeles Kings. The right winger spent 17 games this season with the Kings, scoring a goal and adding six assists.
You’ve got to figure he’ll see some more time with Los Angeles before this season is over.
Here’s a summary of Manchester’s game last night. Notice that Lake Erie has a player whose last name is Snowball. That’s awesome!!
Manchester allowed the game’s first two goals before scoring six unanswered en route to a 6-2 win over visiting Lake Erie at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Two-time AHL All-Star Teddy Purcell tallied two goals and added two assists for the Monarchs, who won their third straight game and moved to 5-1-0-0 in their last six outings.

The Monsters initially took a 2-0 lead in the first period on Robert Snowball’s first career AHL goal and a shorthanded marker by Tom Fritsche.

Purcell cut the Monarchs’ deficit to 2-1 with a power play score before the opening frame was out, and captain Marty Murray tallied the equalizer just 10 seconds into the second, with Purcell picking up an assist. Murray now has a point in six of his last seven games (4-8-12).

Purcell’s second power play goal of the night at 1:44 gave Manchester the lead for good. Marc-Andre Cliche, Kevin Westgarth, and Richard Clune added third-period markers to account for the final margin.

With his four-point effort, Purcell extended his scoring streak to seven games (6-8-14).

Scott Parse and defenseman Alec Martinez each posted two assists apiece in the win, and goaltender Daniel Taylor made 20 saves between the pipes.

Lake Erie has now lost four straight contests.

Red Wings Kings Hockey