|Posted : : 07/07/2005
ACES ANNOUNCE NHL AFFILIATION
Alaska partners with St. Louis Blues, Peoria Rivermen (AHL)
Alaska Aces Press Release
Anchorage, AK - For the first time in franchise history, the Alaska Aces have entered into an affiliation agreement with National Hockey League and American Hockey League clubs, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues and their AHL affiliate in Peoria, Ill., the Peoria Rivermen.
The Blues have a long history and rich tradition in the NHL, reaching the Western Conference Finals as recently as 2001 and appearing in three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals between 1968-70 under the direction of legendary head coach Scotty Bowman. St. Louis will begin a five-year affiliation agreement in 2005-06 with the Peoria Rivermen after moving the team from Worcester, Mass., where it was known as the Worcester IceCats for 11 years.
"I believe this is one more step in our progression toward being one of the top developmental teams in our league," said Alaska head coach Davis Payne. "This vote of confidence from the St. Louis Blues and the Peoria Rivermen further substantiates the direction and quality of what we've tried to achieve over the past couple of years, both in the environment provided for the players here in Alaska and in the opportunity for advancement through our organization."
St. Louis, under the direction of Senior Vice President & General Manager Larry Pleau, currently enjoys the longest streak of consecutive playoff appearances in professional sports at 25 years. The Worcester IceCats, meanwhile, advanced to the postseason nine consecutive times during its 11-year run.
"Our relationship with the Alaska Aces dates back to 2001 when they hosted the Blues pre-season training camp. The fans and the entire city of Anchorage treated us extremely well," said Pleau. "We look forward to adding the team's outstanding ownership and strong hockey atmosphere into the fold through this ECHL affiliation. The Aces will become an important part of our overall player development process."
Legendary former Blues player Bob Plager, as well as former NHL player and head coach and current Blues Professional Scout Bob Berry will represent the team during a formal announcement today in Anchorage.
Alaska, which finished second overall among 28 teams in last year's ECHL standings, figures to be entrusted with the development of a handful of St. Louis- and Peoria-contracted players during the 2005-06 season. The Aces open defense of their 2005 West Division Championship on Friday, October 21 against the San Diego Gulls at Sullivan Arena. The Aces finished with a club-record 98 points during the regular season and advanced to the National Conference Finals before losing Game Seven to eventual Kelly Cup Champion Trenton. For 2005-06 season ticket information, please call 258-ACES.