IceCaps on the radio: team strikes deal with Steele Communications

Some great news for IceCaps fans today. The team has reached an agreement with Steele Communications to have every game broadcast on radio. As a Leafs fan myself, I can’t count how many times AM640 in Toronto bailed me out when games weren’t televised.

From the official VOCM release:

The St. John’s IceCaps and Steele Communications have signed a three-year partnership to bring every IceCaps game into the homes of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Steele Communications will broadcast all 78 IceCaps regular season games, the playoffs and three pre-season games. Home and away games can be heard on This is Newfoundland Labrador on 930 AM in the St. John’s area. The stations streaming every game online include VOCM in St. John’s, Clarenville, Marystown, Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor; HITS-FM and K-Rock in St. John’s and Corner Brook; KIXX Country in Carbonear; Big Land in Labrador, and; CFCB in Corner Brook.

With tickets looking to be hard to come by, this deal allows fans from around the island a chance to follow the team closely. Seems like a no-brainer move, good thing they pulled it off.

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow the blog on twitter @SJ_IceCaps

IceCaps heading to the Bell Centre

It isn’t exactly news, but the IceCaps will be one of two teams facing the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Bell Centre in Montreal this season.

From the AHL official site:

The second (game) will be played on Fri., Feb. 24, as the Bulldogs welcome the St. John’s IceCaps to Bell Centre for a 7:30 p.m. game.

Last season the Bulldogs hosted the Binghamton Senators at the Bell Centre to a crowd of over 13, 000. This will surely be a game the IceCaps players have circled on their calendars.

IceCaps will start in Central Newfoundland

The St John’s IceCaps will travel to Central Newfoundland for practices and a pair of exhibition games against the Norfolk Admirals in late September. Those residing in Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander will have the first chance to see the team in competitive action after a brief start to training camp in St. John’s.

From the Gander Beacon:

The newest AHL team announced on Monday that it was coming to Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor to hold practices, and play a pair of exhibition games against the Norfolk Admirals (farm team of the Tampa Bay Lightning).

Although the team’s first-ever game will be played at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor, the squad will participate in a special ceremony in Gander.

“They asked us if we could participate in the dinner for the 9/11 tribute, Beyond Words, and they asked if we could participate in the golf tournament, but we’re not leaving St. John’s until 2 p.m. in the afternoon, so we will be attending the charity dinner to help raise funds for Beyond Words,” said Glenn Stanford, governor and COO of the IceCaps. “Certainly, for all of us who remember what happened 10 years ago, we were able to marry up a hockey game, and get an opportunity to participate in the Beyond Words tribute. It was a win-win for us.”

Along with participating in the charity dinner and battling the Admirals, the team will stay in Gander during its entire time in Central Newfoundland, practice at the Gander Community Centre, and hold two game-day practices.

The IceCaps’ first home game will come on October 14th against the Hamilton Bulldogs after a brief road trip to New England to open up the season.

 

IceCaps season schedule released, team will host Hamilton first

The 2011-12 AHL schedule has been released, and the St. John’s IceCaps will play the Providence Bruins to open their season on October 7th on the road. From there, they’ll travel to Manchester to play the Monarchs the following night (Saturday.)

Fast forward to the following weekend, and the first regular season AHL game in St. John’s since the Baby Leafs left town will be the IceCaps and Hamilton Bulldogs on October 14th. The team will play the Canadiens affiliate again the following night, and remains at home for another pair of games against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NY Islanders affiliate) the following weekend. For the official schedule, follow this link to the AHL.com release.

Other notable games include the first home game against the Toronto Marlies, which will be to open a back-to-back on the weekend of November 25th. The WBS Penguins will be in town for the first time on January 14th for another weekend pair of games. Every home game for the IceCaps will be a part of a two game set.

It’s also interesting to note that the team will basically be on the road for the entire month of February, leaving after the 12th and not returning until March 9th when they host the Hershey Bears.

Simply click “Continue reading” below for the entire IceCaps regular season schedule.

Continue reading

Are fans jumping the gun a little with the IceCaps?

Eight hundred. The magic number.

With the latest (and likely final) season ticket push from the St. John’s IceCaps, it’s estimated that once all is said and done, there will be 800 seats available for single game tickets. For this reason, you would probably bet that there will be a lot of upset fans once the season rolls around and it’s nearly impossible to get into the Mile One Centre for a game. Then again, there could be some upset folks on the other end as well.

When it was announced that the AHL would return to the island over the summer, the city was abuzz, especially given that former Premier Danny Williams was behind everything. The IceCaps season ticket drive basically blew the doors off with well over 4500 seats taken right off the hop – St. John’s easily has the highest commitment of any current AHL club.

But what about when all of these fans, who’ve clamored to throw their money at the Mile One box office, lose some interest? This isn’t a slight against the team, the city, or the AHL. It’s just the way things work.

There are plenty of weekday games that will be scheduled for the IceCaps, can everyone who’s committed to 38 nights of hockey find time to attend all of these? When a lackluster team with a terrible record is in town on a Tuesday night, will the arena be packed? If the Caps run into a rough patch and fall in the standings, will people start to skip games? Not to mention, there will be folks who swept up tickets on an impulse buy, forgetting that their interest in hockey isn’t exactly as strong as they initially believed.

Don’t get me wrong, this club is in good hands – through both the fans and owners. The team will not fail, and they’ll have plenty of support. We know that. But right now the numbers suggest that every game will be sold out easily due to the insane amount of season ticket holders and the miniscule amount of tickets open to the general public. And it’s questionable as to whether those types of numbers are sustainable. In other words, nabbing single game tickets to a home game may not be that difficult at all once things start to shake out.

It’s like Dos Equis beer. When the first commercial was released about the greatest man in the universe, or whatever he is, the product flew off the shelves. Within weeks, sales basically disappeared and everyone was left with a ridiculous inventory of this equally ridiculously disgusting beer. That isn’t to say the team will run it’s course in St John’s, but you get the idea. Once the novelty wears off, it shouldn’t be impossible to get in to see your home team play. Just because you don’t have a few grand to throw down on a three-year commitment, doesn’t mean you’ll be left in the cold while everyone else enjoys pro hockey. Give it time, you’ll get your chance.

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow on twitter @SJ_IceCaps

Report: Rick Rypien found dead

http://www.vancouversun.com/3724133.bin?size=620x400

From James Mirtle, The Globe and Mail, via Twitter:

“Police confirm former Vancouver Canucks tough guy Rick Rypien has been found dead in his Alberta home. More to come.”

As you may know, Rypien was an off-season acquisition by the Jets this summer and has spent time with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. With the recent death of New York Rangers forward Derek Boogaard still fresh in our minds, this is another tragic loss for the hockey world, and yet another noted “tough guy” to die far before his time.

We will certainly have more on this as the story unfolds. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rypien family during this difficult time.

Note: News1130 in Vancouver now reports that Rypien’s death was a suicide. It’s been known that he had dealt with some mental health issues in the past.

True North has recently released the following statement:

We are deeply saddened to confirm Rick’s passing. As many people are aware, he had strong ties to True North Sports & Entertainment, the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club, the former Manitoba Moose Hockey Club and the Vancouver Canucks. We would like to express our sincere sympathies to the Rypien family as well as Rick’s friends….

Follow @Normaniac747 and @SJ_IceCaps on Twitter.

IceCaps invite Christie and Bushee to training camp

From the Telegram:

You can add the names of ECHL defenceman Tyler Bushee, CIS goalie Steve Christie and Central league forward Eric Lizon as players who have been invited to the IceCaps’ training camp on tryouts. St. John’s fans might remember Lizon from the 2005-06 season, when he was a tough guy for the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres.

Christie posted a .909 SVP in the CIS this past season, and was named the league’s top goaltender the year before. The 26-year old is a Winnipeg native, so it’s no real surprise he’ll be given a shot to crack their minor club.

Interesting note on this guy: he was called up to play with the Toronto Marlies when both Jonas Gustavsson and Jussii Rynnas were injured this past season. Christie backed up Ben Scrivens but didn’t see any time in net.

Lizon is a fighter, recently racking up over 200 minutes in penalties per season over his last two campaigns with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL. The 25-year old also suited up for 8 games with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks.

Bushee’s name is actually Kyle, but I guess that sounds something like Tyler? He posted 31 points from the blueline with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers (best hockey team name) in 67 games played this past season.

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow SJ_IceCaps on twitter

IceCaps invite Alex Wall to training camp

The Telegram is reporting that the IceCaps have invited Alex Wall – a 20 year old defenceman from the Goulds – to their training camp in September.

From the Telegram:

A five-foot-11, 185-pounder, Wall had six goals and 43 assists for the Quebec Remparts in 2010-11. His 49 points put him in the top 10 of scoring among QMJHL blueliners and his plus-42 ranking was third-best among the league’s rearguards.

Sounds promising. Let’s hope he can crack the lineup and add some more local talent to a developing roster.

If Wall isn’t part of the plans with the IceCaps after camp, he has an option to attend the University of Prince Edward Island and play with the CIS Panthers.

IceCaps camp begins on September 27th. The team will host their regular season home opener on October 14th, meaning they will begin the season on the road.

Follow @SJ_IceCaps on twitter

Will the IceCaps look at Sweetland as an option?

Sticking with a theme of adding local players to the IceCaps, I can’t help but wonder if the organization will consider Bonavista native Andrew Sweetland – formerly of the Rochester Amerks, and most recently the Binghamton Senators.

This past season Sweetland split some time between the Senators and the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. In March, while playing with the Senators, he suffered a concussion and has been out indefinitely. This will obviously throw up some red flags for teams looking into acquiring his services, IceCaps included.

On the bright side, Sweetland has started to really find his scoring touch at the pro level it seems. With 21 goals in 38 games with the Jackets, and 7 points in only 14 games with the Baby Sens, you can see that his numbers have improved over the past year or so. Here’s a more detailed look at his point splits, from HockeyDB.

Given the small sample size, it’s tough to say whether Sweetland is a legit 0.5 point per game player at the AHL level. But there’s no doubt this guy has a knack for putting the puck in the net – it’s been the scouting report on him for quite some time.

Set to turn only 25 years old in October, the IceCaps could get a quality player here if Sweetland is indeed healthy. His contract status is up the air, but if he’s available you can count on the IceCaps at least inquiring about his status.

Signing Sweetland could be a bit of a risk, given the type of injury. But for a guy who can pot goals, the team that gives him a shot could reap quite the reward.

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow @SJ_ICECAPS on Twitter