Bad news out of Bloomington tonight...
The Peoria Journal Star quotes sources as saying that the Thunder are one-and-done in the SPHL. Writer Dave Eminian reports that the USHL, the country's top junior league, is planning to put a team at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. No official announcement has been made yet.
This is not good for the SPHL or for the Peoria Rivermen. Peoria and Bloomington are neighbors and, so far, the only members of the midwestern branch of the SPHL. When the two came into the league last summer, league president Jim Combs told me that they were the core of a potential new division in the SPHL. Rumors swirled right away that Peoria, Bloomington and two more teams would be part of a central division that would make travel more manageable.
There has to be some relief for the ridiculous trips that teams make to Peoria, Bloomington or any other northern cousins. The Snakes made the marathon trip up there for a PLAYOFF game. The expense of fuel and hotels is awful. Pretty sure the Snakes are planning to sweep, if for no other reason than they'd have to make that horrible trip again this weekend...UGH. :)
Rumors are everywhere that the Mississippi Surge are also in trouble. Worst case, for the league: Bloomington gone, Peoria bolts to the ECHL and the Surge also go dark. Yikes. The league would be down to 7 teams again...:(
Wonder why the Thunder didn't make this announcement a week ago, so their players could be dispensed to other playoff-bound teams. That would've been better than Kyle Watson being waived when, coincidentally, Peoria was tops on the waiver wire. Another incredible coincidence is that the Rivermen and Thunder have the same ownership group.
Enough bad news...it's playoff time! The Snakes arrived safely in Peoria. Will get a good night's sleep and some practice time in and be ready to go tomorrow night. Game 1 is always crucial. The winner of game 1 in a short series is definitely in the driver's seat.
Because the game is on the other side of the world (ok...slight exaggeration) I couldn't go. Work and life get in the way of hockey sometimes...sigh. But I'll be watching on the web and hollering at the computer. Will call Jerome and one or two guys afterward for their reaction.
Hoping for a good, clean, well-officiated playoff game. Then it's home-sweet-home for the Snakes on Friday.