Saturday, August 2, 2008

Brooklyn In Da House

Minor league hockey is coming to Brooklyn this fall in the form of the Aces of the new Eastern Professional Hockey League. The league is expected to be on par with the SPHL and the MAHL, which would make it 'single A.' These aren't guys who are going to grace the Garden ice anytime soon; they are players who didn't want to give up the game after college or juniors despite not having enough to make the show. They get paid to play (lucky bastards) and work hard to put on a good show for the fans.

The EPHL and the Aces websites are buggy as all hell and they never replied when I sent requests for more info on the team or employment but I was able to dig out some details. The league will mainly stick to the NHL's rule book with some exceptions: primarily a lessened instigator penalty (yeah fighting), no trapezoid, tag-up offsides and auto icings.

The Aces will be led by former junior coach Chris Firriolo, who will hold pro tryouts September 5–7. They will play at Aviator Sports, which appears to be a pain to get to via public transportation so beware. There are just four other teams in the league: the Danbury Mad Hatters, the Jersey Rockhoppers (who are based out of West Orange), the New Hampshire Freeze and the Rome Copper City Chiefs.

The schedule was just released and the season will start November 1st. Brooklyn's home opener will be on the 8th against New Hampshire (they play their first two on the road). Most games are on the weekends, and only five of the 25 home games conflict with the Rangers. Here is the full regular season home sked:
November 2008
# 7: Saturday 8th: New Hampshire @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
# 9: Friday 14th: Jersey @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#10: Saturday 15th: Rome @ Brooklyn (7:30pm) - Rangers play Boston
#13: Friday 21st: Danbury @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)

December 2008
#29: Friday 12th: Rome @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#33: Thursday 18th: Jersey @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#36: Saturday 20th: Danbury @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#38: Tuesday 23rd: Rome @ Brooklyn (7:30pm) - Rangers play Caps
#42: Saturday 27th: Jersey @ Brooklyn (2:00pm) - Rangers play Devils at night

January 2009
#59: Thursday 15th: Rome @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#60: Friday 16th: Danbury @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#63: Saturday 17th: New Hampshire @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#66: Friday 23rd: Jersey @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#69: Sunday 25th: Danbury @ Brooklyn (2:00pm)
#71: Thursday 29th: New Hampshire @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)

February 2009
#80: Saturday 7th: Jersey @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#82: Sunday 8th: Danbury @ Brooklyn (2:00pm)
#92: Friday 20th: New Hampshire @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#96: Sunday 22nd: New Hampshire @ Brooklyn (2:00pm) - Rangers play Leafs at night
#97: Thursday 26th: Jersey @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)

March 2009
#112: Friday 13th: Rome @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#115: Saturday 14th: New Hampshire @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#117: Tuesday 17th: Rome @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#120: Friday 20th: Danbury @ Brooklyn (7:30pm)
#123: Saturday 22nd: New Hampshire @ Brooklyn (7:30pm) - Rangers play Senators

Being in a major market like Brooklyn, this team is sure to sell out most games as long as they do a little bit of marketing. They need to improve their website so fans can follow easier and it wouldn't take much to broadcast their games - at least on tape delay on MNN. If you clicked on the link to the coach, apparently he spoke at a press conference but it never saw the light of day to my knowledge. But before anything, the EPHL needs to make sure that the foundation that they are building is a solid one.

The MAHL seems to be getting their stuff together after having to abort last season. No one wants the kind of publicity that they got and the Aces would do well to hire upstanding citizens so they can survive here where others could not.

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