PEORIA - St. Louis Blues Assistant General Manager and Peoria Rivermen General Manager Kevin McDonald announced Thursday that the Blues and Rivermen have entered into a new affiliation with the Evansville IceMen of the East Coast Hockey League.
“We are very excited to begin a new relationship with Evansville as they join the ECHL,” said McDonald. “They have a first-class facility and we are thrilled to have our prospects be coached by (Rich Kromm), who played in the NHL and has such an established coaching career. This is a great opportunity to have our players in close proximity to both the NHL and American League cities where we can monitor their progress on consistent basis.”
An expansion team in the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America, Evansville is located less than 300 miles from Peoria and roughly 150 miles from St. Louis. The home of the IceMen, the 11,000-seat Ford Center, opened in Nov. 2011 with an NHL-sized ice surface. Evansville also serves as the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and AHL’s Springfield Falcons.
“We’re happy to be able to establish a relationship with the St. Louis Blues and Peoria Rivermen by entering into this affiliation agreement,” said IceMen General Manager and Head Coach Rick Kromm. “It seems a natural fit for our club, our fans and our community; especially considering that St. Louis and Peoria are so close to us geographically.
"The Blues have always been a strong organization with an outstanding history.”
The IceMen will replace the Alaska Aces as the Blues' ECHL affiliate.
The IceMen will be members of the ECHL’s North Division and compete against the Cincinnati Cyclones (Florida-San Antonio/Nashville-Milwaukee), Fort Wayne Komets (TBA), Kalamazoo Wings (Vancouver-Chicago/New Jersey-Albany), and the Toledo Walleye (Chicago-Rockford/Detroit-Grand Rapids). T
hey will open the season on Oct. 13 against Fort Wayne.