The junior hockey season in the United States came to an end May 19, but before and after the Fargo Force captured the United States Hockey League’s Clark Cup, leagues, teams and players have been busy preparing for the 2018-19 season.
NEW LEADERSHIP: The USHL announced the appointment of Tom Garrity as president and commissioner on May 29. Garrity has served as the interim commissioner since November.
Garrity has served as CEO and president of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede and Sioux Falls Sports, LLC, since 2012. Sioux Falls led the USHL in attendance in 2017-18 at 6,563 per game.
EHL EXPANSION: The Eastern Hockey League will expand to 19 teams across nine states for its sixth season.
The league will grow in the south with the addition of the North Carolina Golden Bears and Team Maryland. They will join the three Philadelphia teams — Revolution, Little Flyers and Junior Flyers — in the South Division of the Mid-Atlantic Conference.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will move from the Mid-Atlantic South to North where they will join two newcomers, expansion Lehigh Valley Junior Rebels and New Jersey 87s, and the New York Bobcats.
Those changes led to the two Connecticut teams, the RoughRiders and Chiefs, switching conferences and joining the East Coast Wizards, Total Athletic Seahawks and Walpole Express in the New England Conference South Division.
The Boston Junior Rangers will move to the New England North with four holdovers — the New England Wolves, New Hampshire Avalanche, Valley Junior Warriors and Vermont Lumberjacks.
COACHING CHANGES: The USHL’s Mukegon Lumberjacks will have new leadership next season.
Mike Hamilton has been promoted from assistant to head coach.
John Vanbiesbrouck, who hired Hamilton while serving as general manager, has moved on to USA Hockey to serve as the assistant executive director of hockey operations.
In this role, Vanbiesbrouck will play a key part in the selection of players to represent the United States in international events.
Three new franchises announced their initial leadership.
Clint Mylymok has been named head coach and general manager of the North American Hockey League’s new Maryland Black Bears team.
Al Rooney will handle the same roles with the Chippewa Steel, the former Coulee Region Chill franchise, which was purchased and relocated to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. He was assistant coach with the Robertson Cup-champion Lone Star Brahmas in 2016-17 and spent the most recent season as associate head coach of the Austin Bruins.
The Milwaukee Power of the North American 3 Hockey League chose Fred Berry as their first head coach and general manager.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: With the season over, many players have finalized their college commitments.
Three players from the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders made commitments last week.
Assistant captain Liam Walsh, a forward, is headed to Merrimack College while defenseman Jake Johnson committed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Matt Denman committed to the University of Minnesota.
Ethan Johnson, a forward with the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks, is headed to Mercyhurst University in the fall.
Caleb Hite, a left wing with the NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs, will spend more time in Alaska playing for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc. Photo courtesy of Hickling Images.