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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Big Red (Tier) One

It looks like the USHL will continue to expand their western division, as an unnamed ownership group is negotiating to place a franchise in a new 4,500 seat arena under development as part of a $200M retail and recreation complex in Junction City, Kansas.

Huh?!??? Junction City?

Go to Kansas City... hop on I-70 and head west... past Lawrence... past Topeka... and past Manhattan... 20 miles later you've made it to Junction City...

Junction City?

Okay, I won't belabor the point any further. Most of you probably have no idea where this town is. Junction City is a town of about 20,000 in a county of about 30,000, and is adjacent to Fort Riley. Fort Riley, besides being Custer's post and the home of the Buffalo Soldiers, was once and now again (thanks to base consolidations) the current home of the First (Mechanized) Infantry Division, the Big Red One (yes, the same One as in the 1980 Lee Marvin/Mark Hamill movie). With the return of the division, Junction City is a boomtown. The article mentions 9,000 additional soldiers (don't forget their families) over the next four years. Combine this with the existing population and the 60k or so folks next door in Manhattan, and you've got a fairly decent little hockey market to tap into. (news link with video)

In other news...

Colbert wins bet against Oshawa mayor in OHL rivalry. Hey folks, this has been some great marketing by the Spirit...

Roy ends tantrum, goes back behind the bench...

NCAA exploring role of advisors...

Tonawanda steps aside, but OHL team still needs home...

London 2008 Memorial Cup deposits through the roof...

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Comments on "The Big Red (Tier) One"


Blogger GB Puck Fan said ... (7:08 PM, January 29, 2007) : 

1)I'm not sure what other information you have, but I didn't see the USHL mentioned in either of these stories. (Maybe I missed it)...

2) Please, dear God, no. I'm proposing a new rule: if you want a team more than 4 hours from the next closest team, find a partner to enter the league with.

Columbus - this means you. Same should have gone for Tulsa. And Topeka. And now for Junction City. It may be a nice place, but c'mon, the trips would be horrendous - especially for trips like this year's GB to COL for Tues-Wed games.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (7:53 PM, January 29, 2007) : 

I have two different sources confirming the effort is a USHL one. Also, both Junction City and Topeka are only about 3.5 hours from Lincoln.


Blogger GB Puck Fan said ... (8:36 PM, January 29, 2007) : 

thanks.. maybe I need to brush up on my tornado alley geography. ;)

Still, it's gotta be 10+ hours for GB, CHI, IND and COL.


Blogger Ryan said ... (9:25 PM, January 29, 2007) : 

that's why when those teams would travel to Junction City, they would play back to back games and be done playing there for that season.

The amount of weekday games has drastically decreased now that there is an even amount of teams, so a Tuesday game in Columbus shouldn't hinder as much if they had to do it every other week like it seemed teams had to do last season.


Blogger GB Puck Fan said ... (8:56 AM, January 30, 2007) : 

I agree that an even number of teams has cut down on weekday games, but they still happen and a GB-to-COL Tues-Wed series makes no sense. I can understand a Tuesday night CR-WAT game, but not that.

And, if this is true, that's 13 teams. So far, Champaign, LaCrosse, Hastings, Rapid City or anywhere else hasn't been approved. So, someone - even if it's Lincoln or TriCity at 3+ hours - may make weekday trips - and that means missed school.

As I said, this may be a nice place - although 30,000 people (using Marc's number) seems a bit small. Dubuque was bigger and couldn't meet attendance requirements.

Just raising questions. As noted, I was bit off on the distance and if it can work, great...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:48 PM, January 30, 2007) : 

First thing anyone brings up when weekday games are mentioned, is lost school time. It's almost pointless to even discuss it. There aren't as many high school students in this league as people think. And, for those players who are in high school, arrangements are made to make up the missed class time. It's a minor inconvenience and nothing more.

Junction City, if it ever does happen, is at least three years away. If Rapid City ever comes in, you won't see them for awhile either. There are other cities the league is looking at that'll be in before Junction City and Rapid City ever see the USHL Light of Day.

And why doesn't anyone, when talking about travel, ever talk about the Tri-City Storm in Kearney? 13 hours each way to Indianapolis, 15 hours each way to Columbus, 12 hours(give or take) each way to Green Bay. Other than Lincoln or Omaha, every trip is four hours plus each way for us. The Eastern teams have far less travel concerns than Tri-City does.


Blogger GB Puck Fan said ... (7:53 PM, January 30, 2007) : 

* Tri City has 2 opponents within about 2 hours - Lincoln and Omaha. Green Bay, Omaha, Indy and Ohio don't have any within 2 hours. It's 7 hours from GB-IND and 10 to Columbus. Considering the number of division games, that's a substantial difference. That's why I would LOVE to see a team in LaCrosse, Rockford or Champaign.

* As a housing parent who has had HS kids, I can tell you it is a big deal - not a "minor inconvenience."

Green Bay has six high school kids. For the Ohio trip, they left at 9 am Monday and got back at 7 am Thursday morning. So, that's 3 days of school missed and another where they were groggy at best. When the league stops sending out press releases bragging about how education is so damn important to the league, I'll stop complaining about missed school time for weekday games.

I understand the Fridays every other week. I find midweeek games with 10 bus trips - not the OMA-LIN or CR-WAT ones - indefensible.

And, that's not counting the kids who take a college class - and we have a couple of those, too.


Blogger Ryan said ... (9:46 PM, January 30, 2007) : 

"Green Bay, Omaha, Indy and Ohio don't have any within 2 hours."

Omaha is 45 minutes from Lincoln, and Sioux City is an hour and a half.

And with GB having to travel to Ohio mid-week, I'm sure it has a lot to do with the availability of Nationwide. They take the backburner to any event that they have going on at Nationwide. They have had to play a few games at the practice rink due to other activities going on.

Whether the kids are in school or not shouldn't matter much. If the kid is a good student, he's still going to be a good student. If he's not a good student, then he's still not going to be good.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:15 AM, January 31, 2007) : 

"Green Bay has six high school kids. For the Ohio trip, they left at 9 am Monday and got back at 7 am Thursday morning" if you are talking about the Dec 12/13 Trip they also played back to back game up there which I'm assuming was to try to lessen the amount of time the players had to travel. Complaining to us on a blog isn't going to solve your problem. One of the sacrifices the players at this level will have to make is the possibility of missing school.I think it was you who mentioned the players may miss a lab or speaker.. The players know well in advance their game schedules and can probably arrange to have the speaker video taped or to do the lab after school. It's not like they aren't going to have the opportunity ever again. But for most of the players the chance to play in the USHL may never come again and this is the chance of a life time. They have the option of staying at the HS (or equivalent) level, but most of the HS kids are aware they may miss school and as far as I'm aware they seem to accept it. I suppose if enough of the USHL PLAYERS parents complained to the league they might attempt to schedule the season so that no school will be missed. But trying to arrange that would be near impossible.


Blogger GB Puck Fan said ... (8:37 AM, January 31, 2007) : 

First, I had a typo - it should have been 'Chicago' - not Omaha - in that list of teams without someone withint 2 hours. My apologies...

I understand and accept - and don't have a problem with - some missed school time. It's going to be every other Friday, on average, that a team is out of town.

And yes, the players have a great hockey opportunity and need to minimize problems with school absences.

My only point is that in a league that will send out press releases talking about education and says it is 'foremost' for the teams (see footnote), then don't be hypocritical and send a team from GB to Ohio in the middle of the week.

I understand Ohio is a secondary tenant. So is Green Bay, so are others. But they submit enough workable weekday dates to minimize such trips. And if Ohio can't enough acceptable dates, maybe they shouldn't be in the league.

Thankfully, this season is a couple of weeks shorter because of the even number of teams. Add a weekend back and lose a few weekday games. Weekend games draw better anyway. There are other options...

Yes, I understand complaining on the blog won't solve the problem. I have expressed my views to Gamblers officials as well as the league. But this blog is a place for discussion and I have a concern about trips to Kansas - which could be in the middle of the week. I think making such comments is entirely appropriate.

I'm sorry you don't think my opinion doesn't count as much as a player or parent. That's fine. But if people like me don't house players, there is no league. And we are the ones who helping these players do their homework, work with teachers, cope with scouts and recruiting calls, feed them, help with laundry, be emotional support, etc. Missing school directly affects me. Are we saints? No - but we are important and have a voice as well.

"Because the USHL gears itself toward putting players in college and helping them earn scholarships, the emphasis on education is foremost for all teams. Individual teams' academic coordinators work to make sure players have the academic capability to succeed in the classroom as well as on the ice. For players who are still in high school, teams work closely with local school officials to develop class schedules that keep players on pace for graduation and college entrance requirements."


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