With the Sept. 15 negotiating deadline now passed, it appears the NHL is headed for a delayed season. It appears there will be a void to fill, at least until November, maybe December, hopefully not all year.
No one is going to be happy about the lockout, but there are ways to live with it. Hockey has grown significantly in the United States, and along with it, so have the outlets from which fans can get their regular dose of this game. While there isn’t a single one of them that can replace the NHL, they’re at least effective in providing that fix.
Just because the NHL owners are locking out the players, it doesn’t mean they have to lock you out from the sport you love. Protests are all well and good, but they probably won’t solve anything. The best thing you can do in the lockout is serve yourself a heaping dose of ice hockey.
To help you out, United States of Hockey presents the “Living With the Lockout” series. Going through each division, we’ll provide every fan base of the American NHL teams three nearby options to fill the void. Some are well known, others are well off the beaten path, but that’s the beauty of hockey in the U.S. There’s a lot of it. Even if the NHL comes back sooner than later, you owe it to yourself to experience as much of the great hockey in this country as you can.
Coming up after the jump, Living with the Lockout Part IV: The Central Division
Now two full seasons removed from a Stanley Cup run that left Chicago in a full-on hockey-induced spasm, the Blackhawks have disappointed in the postseason. However, with a lot of star power and a still growing fan base, any new season will be met with great optimism among the Hawk faithful. Chicago has really become a hockey city. It probably has been for longer than most people realize, but there’s no denying it anymore. With nearly every level of hockey available, fans are not short on options to see the game they love. With both the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and Rockford Ice Hogs a short trip for many in the Chicago area, it’s an option most of the diehard Hawks fans will certainly check out. Here are a couple of different options a little more off the beaten path.
Chicago Steel (USHL) — Chicago is a pro town. It always has been. The market is saturated when it comes to hockey, so the Steel sometimes tend to get pushed to the side. The USHL, which has its league offices in Chicago actually, has grown leaps and bounds and the quality of hockey you’ll see is far greater than what it costs to watch. Junior hockey has its flaws, but at the end of the day, the players play with a passion hard to find at other levels. The Steel have struggled mightily in recent years, but have made some aggressive moves to improve in 2012-13. If you’ve never checked out the USHL, most of the players are going to school on Division I scholarships after their Junior careers are done and many players within the league will be drafted into the NHL, so this is a glimpse of the future of hockey for sure. The Steel play out of The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville.
Must See Game: Green Bay Gamblers at Chicago Steel, Oct. 6, 7 p.m. — The Steel will cap a season-opening four-game home stand by welcoming defending USHL champs Green Bay to The Edge. The Gamblers have plenty of talent coming off the title run and the Steel will be looking for an early-season boost. Expect a high-paced contest.
Must See Player: MacKenzie MacEachern — Chicago Steel — Arguably the biggest name on the Steel roster, MacEachern set the Michigan high school ranks on fire last year, registering 90 points. The big forward was picked by St. Louis in the third round of the last NHL Draft and is committed to Michigan State University. Scouts seemed to really buzz about him late last year, so it might not be a bad idea to see what the buzz is all about.
College Road Trips — There is no Division I hockey in Chicago itself, but there are two options that aren’t difficult drives from the area. If you’re up north, perhaps a trip to Madison, Wis., could be a there-and-back same day type deal. If you’re down south, South Bend, Ind., is a pretty simple drive. You can always wait until February when Wisconsin and Notre Dame come to Soldier Field, but odds are, NHL hockey will be back by then. You’ve got a little extra money to play with since you won’t be spending it on $9 beers at the UC. Why not make a little trip of it? The University of Wisconsin and University of Notre Dame are coming off disappointing seasons, but both should look to be better in 2012-13. If you’re headed to Madison, get ready for one of the best atmospheres in college hockey. The Kohl Center, with a capacity of more than 15,000 gives you almost an NHL feel when it’s packed. Notre Dame’s year-old Compton Family Arena is one of the new-construction gems in the college game. With both these proud hockey schools nearby, it’s worth it for a new experience, especially with so many Chicagoland kids playing for both teams.
Must See Games: Colorado College at Wisconsin, Nov. 2, 7 p.m. CT — After playing its first regular season games on the road, the Badgers will welcome a solid CC team in its WCHA home opener. With Wisconsin headed to the Big Ten and Colorado College going to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, this will be the final in-conference meeting of these traditional WCHA powers.
Western Michigan at Notre Dame, Nov. 4, 7:35 p.m. ET — The Central Collegiate Hockey Association will cease to exist after this season after college hockey’s sweeping realignment. The Irish welcome Western Michigan in a crucial early-season conference tilt, which should make for a terrific atmosphere. The Broncos were an NCAA tournament team last year and will be looking to make a statement in South Bend.
Must See Players: T.J. Tynan — Notre Dame — The native of Orland Park, Ill., has been a dynamic producer for the Irish in two seasons, amassing 95 points as an underclassmen. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect will be expected to carry a heavy load for Notre Dame in what the Irish hope is a bounceback season. Also keep an eye out for Chicago-area natives Sam Calabrese (Park Ridge), Thomas Di Pauli (Woodridge), Sam Herr (Hinsdale), Kevin Lind (Homer Glenn) and Robbie Russo (Westmont), as well as Blackhawks pick Stephen Johns.
Michael Mersch — Wisconsin — The Park Ridge native and LA Kings prospect is a big, skilled forward that experienced a big uptick in production as a sophomore for the Badgers, notching 14 goals and 30 points. Michael’s late father, also named Michael, was a standout defenseman for the University of Illinois-Chicago hockey team in the mid 1980s (if the name sounds familiar). Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville) is another Chicagoland native skating for the Badgers.
Chicago Mission AAA — Over the last few years, there have been few Midget teams in the country that have developed more college commitments and have seen more alumni drafted into the NHL than the Chicago Mission. In fact, Mission alum Jordan Schmaltz was a first-round pick by St. Louis last year. The Chicago area as a whole has become a huge producer of top players over the last three years with other AAA outfits like Team Illinois and the Chicago Young Americans churning out college and pro prospects. You might end up being surprised at just how good these Midget-level (ages 15-18) are and how good their games can be. The mission plays out of Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge.
Must See Game: Chicago Young Americans at Mission (18U), Nov. 4, 6:30 p.m. — Just three short years ago, a young guy by the name of Alex Galchenyuk was playing for CYA against guys like Jordan Schmaltz for the Mission. Both were first-rounders last year. Could there be more future stars on the ice for this contest? You’ll have to stop by Seven Bridges to find out.
Must See Player: Christian Dvorak — Chicago Mission — The 16-year-old Dvorak has already committed to the University of Wisconsin for 2014. He posted 45 points for the Mission last season and should be a big producer for the squad again. The Frankfort, Ill., native recently represented the U.S. at the U17 Five Nations Tournament in August and was selected sixth overall by the Chicago Steel in the USHL Futures Draft.
If you want to get in the game yourself or go for a skate, here’s a complete listing of ice rinks in Illinois.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets have dealt the franchise’s biggest star in Rick Nash and probably aren’t going to be a very good hockey team, as has been the custom, in 2012-13. That said, there are a lot of exciting young players in the system and while rebuilding, the Blue Jackets have some intriguing players. Though the delayed season may be a blessing in disguise, the state of Ohio has a plethora of alternative hockey options for Blue Jackets fans to get their fix.
Miami University at Ohio State University — Two of Ohio’s three Division I NCAA teams will be in action on December 14 and 15 right in Columbus, so that’s convenient, right? Ohio State has begun to turn the corner as a program with head coach Mark Osiecki leading the team to a very promising start last year. With strong recruiting classes and a new attitude, the Buckeyes could be a lot of fun to follow in 2012-13, which should ease the minds of displaced Blue Jackets fans. Miami, meanwhile, is coming off an NCAA tournament appearance, but some early departures and some lost recruits could end up leaving the RedHawks vulnerable. This natural rivalry is also an in-conference match-up in the final year of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. After this year, the two schools will be in different conferences, so this series in Columbus comes with added meaning. Also, if you feel like a roadie, you can head to Bowling Green for a glimpse at the Falcons before they move on to a new-look WCHA.
Must See Games: Miami at Ohio State, Dec. 14, 7:05 p.m., Dec. 15, TBA
Must See Player: Sean Kuraly — Miami — The Dublin, Ohio, native is easily one of the top-10 recruits in the country after putting up 70 points in the USHL last season. With great size and speed, this San Jose Sharks prospect is a lot of fun to watch. This series will represent Kuraly’s final audition for a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team for the World Junior Championship, so expect a little added jump out of the big centerman.
Ohio University (ACHA) — Though Ohio State is nice and close, it might be worth making the trip out to Athens to get a different spin on college hockey. The Ohio University Bobcats have been a perennial power in the American Collegiate Hockey Association and offer a fantastic hockey atmosphere. As a visitor with the Iowa State hockey team, I can tell you first-hand Ohio’s on-campus Bird Arena gets loud and the games get feisty pretty quick. This is great hockey. It’s cheap and it’s a lot of fun.
Must See Game: University of Illinois at Ohio, Nov. 16, 7:30 — These two teams have been battling it out as members of the ACHA’s best conference, the Central States Collegiate Hockey League, for a long time and the rivalry has really grown over the years. A lot of folks believe U of I should be one of the next schools to make the jump to Division I NCAA a la Penn State, but they’re sticking with the ACHA for now. This should be a really spirited tilt and give you a top-notch taste of what the ACHA is all about. You’ll come away impressed, I’m sure.
Dayton Devils (FHL) — Minor league hockey has long been in flux in Dayton. There were the Bombers, the Gems, both gone. Now there’s the Dayton Devils, looking to reignite minor league hockey in the area joining the little-known Federal Hockey League, and no, it’s not the same one as in Slap Shot, not really at least. To be honest, I’m not familiar enough with the FHL to know what you’re going to get. I assume it’s halfway decent hockey, a fair amount of fights and the all-important cheap beer. Either way, it’s a short jaunt from Columbus to Dayton. It might be a bad sign that the team’s official website doesn’t show up as a top result on Google, but I’ll save you the trouble. For more info on this fledgling organization: http://daytondevils.pointstreaksites.com/view/daytondevils There’s also the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, a longtime minor-league hockey outfit, if you want to make the longer drive. No NHL makes minor-league hockey all the more important for filling that void.
Must See Game: Danville Dashers at Dayton, Oct. 27, 7:35 p.m. — Dayton welcomes Danville for its first home opener as an FHL franchise at Hara Arena. The most expensive seats are $12.50, so why not give it a shot and get a taste of what this league will be like. Who knows, you might be coming back often with prices like that.
If you feel like lacing ’em up at your local rink, here’s a complete listing of the ice arenas in the state of Ohio.
Detroit Red Wings
Do you guys even need me to do one of these for you? Detroit is the self-proclaimed Hockeytown after all. The state of Michigan is rife with possibilities to fill the void left by the beloved Red Wings and perhaps those distractions will help ease the transition into the first Lidstrom-less season. There of course is nothing to stem the fear of losing the Winter Classic, in which the Red Wings are slated to play the Maple Leafs in Ann Arbor this year. Hopefully you can take your mind off the lockout with any number of the terrific hockey options available to you nearby.
Ontario Hockey League — The Detroit area has two extremely close options and a couple of not-terribly-far ones to get a glimpse of major junior hockey. The OHL has been a top producer of NHL Draft talent and the lockout will leave many of the best 18- and 19-year-olds in the league. Fans could head to Plymouth to catch the Peter Karmanos-owned Whalers take the ice at Compuware Arena. With a roster featuring many local players and some serious draft-eligible and already-drafted talent (including four first-round picks at forward), the Whalers could be a lot of fun to watch. If you’ve got your passport handy, you can head across the bridge to Windsor for a look at the Spitfires. Though recent OHL sanctions will hurt the team, they’ll be relatively unaffected this year, so it could be a good time to catch them. If you’re further north, perhaps checking out a Saginaw Spirit or Sarnia Sting game might be a better option for you. No matter where you go, you are sure to be treated to a really solid hockey game.
Must See Game: Sarnia Sting at Plymouth Whalers, Nov. 3, 7:05 p.m. — There will be plenty of great games to catch at any of the rinks, but this second game of a home-and-home series between Sarnia and Plymouth should be intriguing. In a game that will feature two of the best American players in the OHL in Plymouth’s J.T. Miller and Sarnia’s Alex Galchenyuk, it has the added tension of the second game of a series, too. It should be a spirited match-up featuring at least six first-round draft picks.
Must See Players: Since there are a lot of teams local to Detroit, here’s a quick list of guys you’ll want to watch for with Michiganders italicized — Plymouth: J.T. Miller, Stefan Noesen, Tom Wilson, Rickard Rackell. Windsor: Patrick Sieloff, Ben Johnson, Joshua Ho-Sang, Kerby Rychel, Brady Vail. Saginaw: Vince Trocheck, Marselis Subban, Jimmy Lodge, Andrey Alexeev. Sarnia: Alex Galchenyuk, Connor Murphy, Reid Boucher, Anthony DeAngelo, Charles Sarault.
Michigan vs. Michigan State — Well, this is a bit obvious, isn’t it? Well, yes, yes it is. If you live in Michigan, you are already well aware of this rivalry and the excitement that comes along with it. Both the Wolverines and Spartans made the NCAA tournament last year and played some spirited contests in 2011-12. This is the last season they will both be CCHA combatants before moving to the new Big Ten hockey conference, so there is a little bit of added historical context to these games. The pair plays a November home and home series that is sure to be as entertaining as any previous. The Wolverines have been consistently good over the years and after a few down years, the Spartans are on the way back up. Both squads had key losses with Michigan losing All-American goalie Shawn Hunwick and Michigan State losing the all-everything defenseman Torey Krug. The game will not lack for star power, however. It should be a spirited season series between these two great rivals and is always worth the trip.
Must See Game: Michigan State at Michigan, Yost Arena, Nov. 9, 7:35 p.m. — Yost is currently under some renovations, making one of the best old barns in all of hockey even better. This will be the first match-up for the two squads which should be packed with all the energy of a Stanley Cup playoff game. The building will be rocking for this big time rivalry game. You can also make the trip to another great hockey barn in Munn Arena in East Lansing for the second contest of the home and home Nov. 10 at 7:05 p.m. Similar atmosphere, same great on-ice match-up.
Must See Player: Jacob Trouba — Michigan — The freshman defenseman was the ninth overall pick of the Winnipeg Jets and may be the best recruit in the country. It is believed Trouba will see time with potential All-America candidate Jon Merrill on a D pairing and if that’s the case, it could be one of the most exciting pairs in the country. Trouba plays with a mean streak and likes to get involved at both ends of the ice.
2012 Under-18 Four Nations Cup — Hosted by USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, there will be international hockey in Ann Arbor in November and it is going to be a can’t-miss event. Featuring Under-18 teams from Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States (the NTDP’s U18 team), this will be a great flavor of international hockey. Sweden and Finland should have several big-time prospects available for this event, while the U.S. has a pretty strong team as well, with many highly-touted prospects. If you dig the NHL Draft and following it all season, this is a rare opportunity to get an up-close look at some top European prospects. It shouldn’t be too costly, either. This Four Nations event has seen some of the absolute best players these countries have to offer, so it is definitely worth the trip. The tournament runs from Nov. 6-11 a the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
Must See Game: The schedule has not yet been released for this event, but keep a look out for when the U.S. will be meeting Sweden. That match-up has become one of the great international hockey rivalries at the U18 level. The two countries have met in each of the last three gold-medal games at the World Under-18 Championship with the U.S. coming out on top all three times. Sweden is beginning to produce deeper talent pools in addition to the high-end talent you could always count on them for. They’ve been on the cusp of U18 domination and will have eyes towards knocking off the defending world champs on their home soil.
Must See Players: The rosters for Sweden, Finland and Switzerland are not yet known, but players eligible for this team include Finland’s Aleksander Barkov, who some have tabbed as a potential top-three pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. He played professionally in Finland at age 16. There’s also Sweden’s Robert Hägg, yet another Swedish defenseman that has a lot of buzz surrounding him coming in this year. The Americans will boast highly-touted prospects like J.T. Compher, who was part of the U.S. U18 squad that won gold at the World U18s last year, scoring a goal in the gold-medal game. There’s also big Hudson Fasching, a native Minnesotan who has a lot of folks buzzing due to his tremendous upside. Also, Will Butcher, a dynamic offensive defenseman who also helped Team USA to the gold last year at the World U18s.
You probably already know where your local rink is, but just in case, here’s a complete listing of ice arenas in Michigan.
Though reeling from the loss of Ryan Suter, the Preds faithful is happy to have kept captain Shea Weber after the big defenseman got an offer sheet from Philadelphia. The Predators have been on the rise and even with losing Suter, they should be a contending team in the Central Division. The fan base has been growing leaps and bounds over the last few years, so this lockout has to be especially maddening to a team that was really going somewhere with the local sports fans. Though Tennesee doesn’t have a ton of really close options for hockey, there are a few ways Preds fans can get their fix.
Knoxville Ice Bears (SPHL) — Teams have come and gone from the Southern Professional Hockey League with regularity, but the Ice Bears have been pretty consistent. One of the league’s top franchises, Knoxville has been consistently one of the top teams in attendance and drew over 100,000 fans last season alone. After a semi-final ouster at the hands of Pensacola last year, the Ice Bears will be looking to get back into the SPHL title hunt. Playing out of the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum, the Bears offer a solid alternative for the now freed-up Predators fan looking for some good old-fashioned fun.
Must See Game: Huntsville Havoc at Knoxville, Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. — Not only is this the home opener, it’s a battle between two of the old standbys in the SPHL. With Huntsville a good natural rival, there should be a high energy in the building and maybe even a few early-season scraps. This should be a pretty fun game to get a taste of SPHL hockey.
University of Alabama-Huntsville — Yes, Division I hockey exists in the south and yes, it’s worth the drive to check it out. They tried to kill the Chargers, but the Chargers said no. After an announcement that the school was going to close down its Division I hockey program, donors stepped up to save the team and give the Chargers a chance. The work is not yet done, as it will be a year-to-year battle to keep operations going, but UAH has remained a D1 team. The Chargers will play the vast majority of its games in the 2012-13 season on the road, but will have a few good home games to check out. Playing as an independent, UAH doesn’t have the luxuries some other teams do, like the chance to play for a national title, but it is still Division I college hockey and the team is pretty well beloved by the locals. Help support UAH hockey by getting to one of the home tilts this year and help yourself to some entertaining hockey. The Chargers play in Huntsville’s Von Braun Center.
Must See Game: Minnesota State at Alabama-Huntsville, Oct. 13, 7 p.m. — Only one NCAA Division I team is traveling to Huntsville to play the chargers and that is the Minnesota State Mavericks. This will be the second of a two-game home series for the Chargers, so expect UAH to come out fired up and looking to shock people with a W over a WCHA team.
Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey — Hockey has grown and is growing in Tennessee. So much so that now local high schools are able to field teams. It’s still a small group, but it’s come a long way in recent years. In fact, the Hendersonville High School team earned an invite to USA Hockey’s High School national championship, going 1-2 at the tournament. Additionally, this is going to be some pretty fun hockey really close to home, so it’s certainly worth checking out. The quality of hockey isn’t going to be as high a level as you’ve gotten used to, but the passion of the game is going to be awfully similar. The allure of high school sports is watching the kids play with pride in themselves and their school, trying to get better all the while, so this is a good distraction from the money-centered debate of the NHL lockout. For more information on GNASH: http://gnashockey.com/index.php
Must See Game: Schedule TBD
There aren’t a whole bunch of rinks in the state of Tennessee, but they exist and I’m sure they’ll be happy to open their doors to you. Here’s a full listing of arenas in the state.
St. Louis Blues
Oh what a season it was for the Blues last year. With captain and American hero David “Inglorious” Backes, dynamic defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, and a killer goalie tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot, there’s a lot to look forward to for St. Louis fans. This lockout isn’t real fun though, is it? Lucky for the Blues fans there are many, many more opportunities to take in some quality hockey. If you want to make the trip over to Peoria to catch the AHL’s Rivermen, that’s a good not-too-far option, but here’s a look at some in-state options to help pass the time.
College Hockey Ice Breaker, Kansas City — Alright, so this one’s all the way across the state and Peoria would actually be closer, but if you’re looking for a great way to kick off the lockout, the Ice Breaker isn’t a bad event to take in. You could make a nice hockey-filled weekend of it as the closest NHL city to the event. The annual four-team two-game “Tournament” will be held this year at the Sprint Center in Kansas City and will feature Notre Dame, Maine, Nebraska-Omaha and Army. This is certain to be a great college hockey season and the Ice Breaker never fails to disappoint. Here’s how it goes, there’s two games on Friday, whichever teams win those two games play in the Ice Breaker “championship” the next day, while the other two play in an earlier consolation game. You can get a two-day pass, buying you four hockey games for $40-$55 total. That’s not a bad deal for what you’ll get a chance to see. It may not be minor-league cheap, but it sure beats the price of four NHL games. Might not be a bad little road trip for you to take.
Must See Game: Notre Dame vs. Maine, Oct. 12, 6 p.m. — The strongest match-up between the two on Day 1 of the Ice Breaker should be a dandy. Maine was an NCAA tournament team last year, but lost a good bulk of its scoring to graduation or early departure. Notre Dame meanwhile has some top talent returning in looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2011-12 campaign. Both teams will be looking to make a good first impression on neutral ice. This should be a dandy.
Must See Player: Anders Lee — Notre Dame — A New York Islanders prospect, Lee has been a scoring sensation in his first two years of college hockey. The big forward led the Irish with 17 goals last year and turned down overtures to sign his NHL contract. With Lee and running mate T.J. Tynan in the lineup, there could be some big fireworks in Kansas City.
Lindenwood University — In nearby St. Charles, the Lindenwood University men’s hockey team has been building an ACHA dynasty. Additionally, the women’s team recently made the jump to NCAA Division I, so there are two really good hockey options just a short drive from the St. Louis area. The men’s team has been one of the top club hockey programs in the country over the last eight or so years, winning back-to-back ACHA national titles in 2009 and 2010. Though most of the school has made the move to NCAA Division II, men’s hockey will remain a non-varsity sport. Women’s hockey however will embark on its first season as members of College Hockey America and has a full home slate for the first time since elevating to the NCAA Division I ranks. Both squads play out of the Lindenwood Ice Arena in Wentzville, which offers a cozy environment perfect for each team’s level of play. That’s a pair of great hockey options just a short trip away.
Must See Game: University of Wisconsin at Lindenwood (Women’s Hockey), Oct. 5, 7 p.m. — How’s this for a home-opener? The Wisconsin women’s hockey team has been a powerhouse in recent years and should be no different this year. Lindenwood should have the place packed for the big home opener and they’ll need the support. Wisconsin was the national runner up in women’s hockey last year.
Must See Player: Brianna Decker — Wisconsin — If you’re headed to Wentzville for women’s hockey, be sure to get to that first series against Wisconsin. Decker is the reigning Patty Kazmaier Award (the Hobey for women’s hockey) after posting 82 points in 40 games last season. She is a likely 2014 U.S. Olympian as well.
St. Louis Blues AAA — So maybe you just really want to see people playing hockey in Blues jerseys. Well what if I told you you could see something a lot better than just the 40-year-old goalie rocking the Blue-note in men’s league? The St. Louis Blues AAA program has been churning out top players a whole bunch lately and has become a legitimate option for the top Missouri-based players to develop at a high level. The Blues have been sending a lot of kids to the upper levels of Junior hockey and has seen numerous alumni pick up major Division I scholarships. Among the alumni, St. Louis Blues prospect Phil McRae and Flames draftee John Ramage, just to name a few. More here: http://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=stlaaamm. It’s AAA midget hockey, so it’s not exactly the tip top level, but it’s a good brand of hockey and plenty of fun to watch (and it might not cost you a dime to check out). The Blues play in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League which includes many top teams from around the country, so you’re sure to see some good hockey at the Hardees Ice Plex in Chesterfield.
Must See Game: LA Junior Kings at St. Louis 16U, Nov. 17 11:10 a.m. — It might be an early tilt, but this 16 & Under game should be a dandy. Most of these players are competing to gain the eyeballs of junior and college scouts at this level, so they play hard and really open things up. It might not be the NHL, but it is nice and close to St. Louis and won’t affect your wallet. Not a bad alternative.
Must See Players: Alex Jasiek and Chase Berger — St. Louis Blues 18U — Jasiek recently competed for the U.S. U17 Select Team at the U17 Four Nations Tournament in Agusut, helping Team USA to the win. Berger is a Penn State commit and has already been pretty productive in the young season.
There are plenty of nice rinks in Missiouri, so don’t be afraid to get out there and get on the ice yourself. Here’s a complete listing of rinks in the state.
Central Division fans, I couldn’t get to every option and maybe I missed your favorite. Why don’t you go ahead and share yours in the comments.
Coming up next on Living with the Lockout: The Northeast Division
Previously on Living with the Lockout
Don’t overlook hockey in the Hoosier state! Fort Wayne & Evansville have hockey teams. Go Komets! 🙂
The Saginaw Spirit’s starting goalie is Jake Paterson, last year’s third round pick of the Red Wings, so the trip up I-75 is a good way for Wings’ fans to check out the future. Or they can make the shorter jaunt to Compuware Arena to see him when the Spirit play the Whalers. Those two are much bigger rivals than Plymouth-Sarnia ever dreamed of being, and have a traveling trophy (unfortunately presently residing in Plymouth) for the winner of each year’s series.