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Last Week around the Leagues

by Fran Stuchbury
May 4, 2021 - American Hockey League (AHL)

This past week the American Hockey League announced it would have no competition for the 2021 Calder Cup; the Grand Rapids Drive became the NBA G League affiliate for the Denver Nuggets; and Billings, Montana was awarded a Champions Indoor Football expansion franchise next season. Highlights from this week are from the American Hockey League, ECHL, North American Hockey League, Western Hockey League, National Women's Hockey League; Champions Indoor Football, Indoor Football League, Major League Soccer, National Women's Soccer League, United Soccer League Championship, United Soccer League One, National Indoor Soccer League, Premier Lacrosse League and Major League Rugby.


American Hockey League

American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson announced that due to league COVID-19 protocols, the AHL will not be able to conduct traditional Calder Cup Playoffs in 2021. Each of the league's five divisions has been provided the opportunity to independently determine its own postseason format. The members of the Pacific Division will complete the 2020-21 season with a playoff tournament to determine a division champion; members of the other four divisions will not have postseason play.

The Utica Comets will end what's already been an atypical year without the usual postseason playoffs, after the American Hockey League announced there'd be no competition for the 2021 Calder Cup.


ECHL Plays of the Week

ECHL Saves of the Week

Federal Prospect Hockey League

The Columbus River Dragons completely dominated in the final home game of the season. Columbus defeated Elmira Enforcers 8-1 to win the Ignite Cup Championship in a three game sweep. It's the first hockey championship Columbus has won since 2012.

North American Hockey League

NAHL Plays of the Week

NAHL Stars of the Week

Western Hockey League

Medicine Hat Tigers forward Nick McCarry has speed to burn and he shows it off on the penalty kill.

For the 14th time in franchise history, the Brandon Wheat Kings are East Division Champions, and for the first time ever, recipients of the Subway Cup. The Subway Cup was created for the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season, presented to the Champion of the WHL Subway Hub Centre, which played host to the WHL's East Division in Regina, Sask.

National Women's Hockey League

The National Women's Hockey League today announced a substantial salary cap increase for its seventh season in 2021-22, doubling it from $150,000 to $300,000 per team. The breakthrough terms were announced by Commissioner Tyler Tumminia. A salary cap of $300,000 per team represents the highest figure in league history dating back to 2015.

There was a big push forward in women's hockey on Wednesday. The NWHL invested in their players and doubled the salary cap. Lindsay Dunn speaks with Toronto Six star Mikyla Grant-Mentis about the announcement and her breakout season.


NBA G League

The NBA G League, Denver Nuggets and Grand Rapids Drive announced that the teams have entered into a single affiliation "hybrid" partnership beginning with the 2021-22 season. As hybrid affiliates, the Nuggets will control the Drive's basketball operations and existing local ownership in Grand Rapids, Mich., led by Steve Jbara and a team of investors, will oversee the franchise's business operations and community engagement. Grand Rapids, which will announce a new name and identity in the coming weeks, was previously the hybrid affiliate of the Detroit Pistons.

Grand Rapids Drive to become affiliate of Denver Nuggets.


Champions Indoor Football

Atop the beautiful DoubleTree hotel downtown, officials from a Wyoming-based group, Pick-Six Entertainment, LLC announced today their plans to launch a new professional indoor football team in Billings for the 2022 season. The yet-to-be-named team will be involving local business leaders and will play at the MetraPark First Interstate Arena beginning in March of next year. The group announced not only their arrival, but also plans to hire local staff, involve local business leaders, and even have the community name the team through a contest in partnership with EconoPrint and the Billings Gazette.

Done deal: Indoor football returning to Billings

Tommy Benizio of Benizio Sports, a sports marketing agency assisting with the new Billings indoor football team, talks about the as-yet-unnamed franchise during a press event in Billings. The team will be a part of the Champions Indoor Football league.

Indoor Football League

Green Bay Blizzard quarterback Damion May completed a 24-yard strike to wide receiver Kezlow Moore for a touchdown with 0:32 left to take the lead in the fourth quarter and ultimately seal the game. The Green Bay Blizzard defeated the Massachusetts Pirates 40-36.

National Arena League

The 2019 National Arena League Champion Jacksonville Sharks announced today that all Sharks 2021 home games will be allowed full capacity for fan attendance. This decision was supported by the Jacksonville Sharks organization and the Mayor's Office of the City of Jacksonville who are mutually aligned with bringing back family affordable fun to Jacksonville this summer with the Sharks opening home game kicking off Saturday, June 12 at 7pm. The recent decision serves as a benchmark of progress for the city of Jacksonville and the state of Florida as many indoor venues across the nation continue to be held at capacity restrictions.


Major League Soccer

Due to the increased access to vaccine distribution, and health and safety protocols in place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, along with the high demand from our fans, AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE) will increase capacity for events at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to 100 percent beginning May 15 for the Atlanta United match against CF Montréal. The two lower levels, in typical soccer configuration will be available for Atlanta United fans.

San Jose Earthquakes Jackson Yueill stuns D.C. United's Chris Seitz as he scores a stunning volley from distance.

Orlando City SC Nani on the 19th minute puts himself on the score sheet with this rocket golazo!

National Women's Soccer League

NJ/NY Gotham FC have acquired veteran midfielder Allie Long from OL Reign. In exchange, Reign FC receives $80,000 in allocation money and Gotham FC's 2022 second round NWSL Draft pick. Gotham FC and Reign FC will also swap places in the Discovery Ranking order. A native of Huntington, N.Y., Long, 33, is making a return to her local roots.

Returning to the league with a duo of quality goals, Houston Dash Kristie Mewis earns the Budweiser Player of the Week award for Challenge Cup Week 2.

With a massive kick save to deny Lynn Williams, Racing Louisville FCV Michelle Betos earns Verizon Save of the Week honors.

United Soccer League Championship

Queensboro FC (QBFC), an expansion club of the United Soccer League (USL), announced that York College of The City University of New York (CUNY) will be the site of its home games for the inaugural season in Spring 2022. This will be the first ever purpose-built stadium, specifically designed for soccer, by any professional sports team in New York City. The announcement has been a long time coming for many fans, who have been highly anticipating the news and are eager to welcome a home soccer team to Queens.

For decades many teams and multiple investors were unable to build a soccer specific stadium in New York. Now it seems Queensboro FC will break the impasse with their York College project.

The USL Championship announced its Player of the Week Presented by Cleer Audio for Week 1 of the 2021 regular season with Louisville City FC midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo earning the honor after leading his side to victory against Atlanta United 2 at Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday night.

United and Loudoun United FC have announced Stewart Mairs will become the first General Manager for Loudoun United FC. Mairs, who originally joined D.C. United as the Director of Soccer Strategy and Analysis in 2016, had recently been promoted to Technical Director for the club in 2019, a role he will retain in addition to his new position.

United Soccer League One

USL League One Goal of the Week Winner - Week 1 & 2 - Fort Lauderdale CF Shaan Hundal

USL League One Save of the Week Winner | Week 3 Fort Lauderdale CF Luis Zamudio

National Indoor Soccer League

New indoor soccer team, the Memphis Americans, to play in Southaven. The season in the new National Indoor Soccer League, featuring women's and men's teams, will begin after Christmas and will run through April.


Double-A South League

With vaccinations across Mississippi increasing and health and safety protocols still in place, the Mississippi Braves are pleased to announce that Trustmark Park will operate at 100% capacity during the 2021 season, beginning with the season opener against Pensacola.

Appalachian League

The Kingsport Axmen introduce Daren Brown as the inaugural manager for the 2021 season. Brown has more than two decades of managerial experience including time as the manager for the Seattle Mariners. Throughout all levels of coaching, Brown has more than 1,200 wins under his belt. Brown was most recently the skipper for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers in 2019, returning to the club after also serving at the helm from 2007-2013.

Futures Collegiate Baseball League

The Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England (FCBL) announced the addition of the Norwich Sea Unicorns as an expansion franchise for the upcoming 2021 season. The Sea Unicorns, whose home is Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich, Conn., have joined the FCBL for its 11th season of New England summer collegiate action. The team previously played in the Short Season Class A New York-Penn League, serving as a minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers since 2010.

The Norwich Sea Unicorns announce the hiring of Norwich native Eric Campbell to serve as the team's on-field Manager. Campbell recently finished a 12-year professional career as a player within the New York Mets, Miami Marlins and Oakland Athletics organizations.


Premier Lacrosse League

The Atlas LC selected Jeff Teat first overall in the 2021 PLL College Draft.


Major League Rugby

Top Five Tries - Round Six

Did we miss anything newsworthy or downright fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.

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American Hockey League Stories from May 4, 2021

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