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 Arena Football League

Last Week around the Leagues

by Fran Stuchbury
June 4, 2024 - Arena Football League (AFL3)


This past week Minnesota claimed first-ever Professional Women's Hockey League Walter Cup, the Northern Super League was formed with six women's soccer teams in Canada, and the Saginaw Spirit won the Memorial Cup, becoming the fifth U.S. winner in the 104-year history of the cup. Highlights from this week come from the Professional Women's Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, ECHL, Northern Super League, National Women's Soccer League, MLS NEXT Pro, United Football League, Canadian Football League, Indoor Football League, Arena Football League, Women's National Basketball Association, Canadian Elite Basketball League, Unrivaled Women's Basketball League, International League, Pacific Coast League, Eastern League, National Lacrosse League, and Ultimate Frisbee Association.

HOCKEY

Professional Women's Hockey League

Minnesota defeated Boston 3-0 at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell in Game 5 of the PWHL Finals, presented by Scotiabank, to claim The Walter Cup. Taylor Heise was voted the recipient of the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP award after leading the PWHL Playoffs in goals with five, and finishing tied for first in points with eight, in ten games played. Heise was chosen first overall by Minnesota in the inaugural PWHL Draft in September 2023. Nicole Hensley made 17 saves to record her second shutout of the series.

Minnesota shut out Boston for a 3-0 victory in a winner-take-all Game 5, claiming the Walter Cup in the inaugural championship of the Professional Women's Hockey League.

Ontario Hockey League

In the dying seconds of the 2024 Memorial Cup presented by Dow, Josh Bloom scored a historic goal for the Saginaw Spirit, tallying the game-winner with 22 seconds left to spare to help the Spirit defeat the London Knights 4-3 in the championship final. The victory provided Saginaw with their first-ever Memorial Cup title in franchise history, occurring in what was their first-ever appearance at the event. In addition to registering the game-winning goal, Bloom (1G-2A) led the Spirit in scoring during Sunday's championship final, while his teammate Owen Beck (2G) recorded a game-high two goals. Having collected five points and co-led the tournament with four goals, Owen Beck was the recipient of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the MVP of the 2024 Memorial Cup presented by Dow.

Here's are the highlights.

ECHL

The City of Bloomington along with the Bloomington Bison Hockey organization are excited to announce a landmark moment as we prepare for our inaugural season. The team revealed Thursday its affiliation with the prestigious New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL). In addition, the team introduced Phillip Barski as the Bison's Head Coach and General Manager. The partnership with the Rangers signifies an incredible beginning for the Bison. As a community passionate about hockey, aligning with a franchise with such a rich history and commitment to excellence is an extraordinary opportunity for our team, players, and fans. The Rangers' dedication to player development and their tradition of success will no doubt enrich our organization. "This affiliation with such a celebrated franchise as the New York Rangers brings a new level of excitement and prestige to Bloomington," said City Manager Jeff Jurgens. "We look forward to the positive impact this partnership will have on the City and the electrifying hockey it will bring to Grossinger Motors Arena.”

Bloomington Bison announce their NHL affiliation with the New York Rangers

The Savannah Ghost Pirates announced that they have hired Jared Staal as the team's new head coach. Staal, 33, has served as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League for the past two seasons. Before Charlotte, the Thunder Bay, ON, native held the same role with the Orlando Solar Bears from 2019-22. "We are very excited to welcome Jared and his family to the Ghost Pirates as our next Head Coach," Zawyer Sports Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Ernst said. "With Jared's experience in both the ECHL and AHL as a player and an assistant coach, along with knowing what it takes to build a winning team in the ECHL, he is the perfect fit. Jared's vision in how we build our winning team with his recruiting, preparation, communication and teaching will hold players accountable while establishing a winning culture that our great fans in Savannah deserve this upcoming season.”

Jared Staal to lead Ghost Pirates

The Fort Wayne Komets announced that the Edmonton Oilers have extended their affiliation agreement with the club for the 2024-2025 season. "The Fort Wayne Komet organization is proud to continue as the ECHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers and the Bakersfield Condors (AHL)," said Komets General Manager David Franke. "We have a great relationship with Keith Gretzky (Oilers Assistant General Manager, Bakersfield General Manager), Bill Scott (Assistant General Manager, Hockey Operations), and Bakersfield's Head Coach and Komet Hall of Fame member Colin Chaulk. We look forward to their continued help as we build our roster for next season. This is a great day for Kometland.” Next season will be the third straight season the Komets have partnered with Edmonton. The franchise previously aligned with the Edmonton organization in the International Hockey League during the 1988-1989 and 1989-1990 seasons.

Federal Prospects Hockey League

The Mississippi Sea Wolves of the Federal Prospects Hockey League are proud to announce that they have hired Ray Tremblay as the new head coach beginning with the 2024-2025 season. This news marks the fourth coach in franchise history for the Sea Wolves. Tremblay, a native of Peachland, British Columbia, comes to Mississippi after several successful seasons in the USPHL and NCDC junior leagues. Ray had previously coached in the FPHL in Danville at the helm of the Dashers in 2019-20 where he led the team to a 24-18-2-3 finish in a very tough Western Division before the season cancelled due to COVID. Before stepping into his role as a coach Ray played the game both as a college athlete at SUNY Brockport from 2008-2011 and as a professional athlete in Danville and Watertown of the FPHL and Asnieres of the France3 league. Tremblay brings a variety of experience and leadership to an organization on the cusp of a championship.

United States Hockey League

The United States Hockey League (USHL) and the Fargo Force have announced that Brett Skinner has been named Coach of the Year for the 2023-24 season. League awards are voted on by each member club's General Manager. In his first season as head coach of the Force, Skinner led his club to a 50-10-2-0 record in capturing the Anderson Cup as USHL regular-season champions and establishing a League record for wins in a season. Under his guidance, the Force scored a league-high 272 goals and allowed a league-low 143 goals. Fargo, which flourished in special teams in 2023-24, ranked second in the League with a 31.5% power play percentage and was first in penalty kill percentage with a 86.2% mark. The Force began the season by winning their first 10 games of the season and also had a 10-game winning streak from Jan. 26-Feb. 25.

Tri-City Storm is proud to announce the hiring of Mark Abalan as the ninth Head Coach in franchise history. Abalan brings more than twenty years of coaching experience and success to the organization. He joins the Storm after spending the last three seasons with the Northstar Christian Academy Knights 16U AAA organization in Alexandria, Minnesota. Abalan previously served as Head Coach of the Chicago Steel (USHL) during the 2017-2018 regular season. He replaces Anthony Noreen, who was named the Head Coach of the Miami University RedHawks (NCAA) on April 1st, 2024, following seven years behind the Storm bench.

Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League

The QMJHL is proud to unveil its 2024-2025 preseason and regular season schedules, which will be marked by a reduction from 68 to 64 regular season games. A total of 576 regular season games will be played between September 20, 2024 and March 22, 2025. Of these, 93% will be played from Thursday to Sunday and during school holidays. It should also be noted that 83% of the games will be played from Friday to Sunday (including school vacations). Four games will be played on Thanksgiving Day, October 14, in Moncton, Val-d'Or, Blainville-Boisbriand and Shawinigan.

SOCCER

Northern Super League

Canada, the wait is finally over. Women's soccer in this country will reach new and exciting heights on the platform it deserves next spring. Diana Matheson, CEO and Co-Founder of Project 8, revealed today Northern Super League as the official name for Canada's highly anticipated professional women's soccer league. The Northern Super League will kick off its inaugural season in April 2025 with six founding clubs from key markets nationwide. Matheson further confirmed that clubs based in Ottawa and Montreal will join previously announced franchises in Halifax, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. "We are thrilled to announce this update to soccer fans across Canada as we take a big step toward our season opener in April 2025," said Matheson. "After years without a professional women's domestic soccer league, the Northern Super League and its six founding clubs will fill a significant void in Canada and bring about meaningful change coast to coast. We are proud to launch with a name that will instill pride in all those who play and love the game. With a brand that is fresh, we welcome all who want to be a part of this exciting moment in Canadian sports history.”

Diana Matheson, CEO and co-founder of Project 8, revealed the Northern Super League as the official name for Canada's highly anticipated professional women's soccer league. The former CanWNT player spoke about the collaboration that was needed to see this through and the process to land on an official name for the league.

Calgary will have a team in the Northern Super League (NSL), it was announced. Calgary Wild FC will be one of six teams to play as part of the NSL, formerly Project 8, which has been working diligently to bring professional women's soccer to Canada for the first time. Until the development of Project 8, Canada was the only top ten FIFA-ranked nation that didn't have a women's professional soccer league. Through the foresight of Calgary Foothills FC, Calgary was positioned as one of two founding teams in Project 8 with the rights secured for the greater Calgary area. Through collaborative work across the Alberta soccer community, those rights have moved to the Calgary Wild FC.

Major League Soccer

D.C. United announced that Portland Trail Blazers' forward Jerami Grant in the National Basketball Association (NBA) has joined the Black-and-Red ownership group as an investor. "I am honored to be joining the D.C. United ownership group. Having grown up in the DMV, Washington, D.C. holds a special place in my heart, and I am proud to invest in the community that has played a significant role in shaping who I am today," said Grant. "D.C. United's ownership group has shown impressive growth over the years, extending their influence beyond sports into the realms of music and arts, which is something I deeply respect. The club's commitment to social responsibility is admirable, and I am eager to contribute in a meaningful way by giving back to the community. I strongly believe in the power of sports to bring people together, and as a professional athlete and owner, I am dedicated to making a positive impact in the DMV region through empowerment, providing opportunities, and service.” Notably, during the 2020-21 NBA season, Grant had a breakout year, ending the season as a finalist for the Most Improved Player award while averaging a career-high in points per game. In 2020, Grant's talents were recognized on the global stage when he represented the United States as a member of the Olympic basketball team in Tokyo where his contributions played a pivotal role in securing a gold medal for Team USA.

National Women's Soccer League

Kansas City Current defender Gabrielle Robinson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the match against the Utah Royals May 25 and will be placed on the Season Ending Injury (SEI) list. Expecting a full return to play, Robinson will begin her recovery immediately as she aims to return to the field. "Gabby has been one of the league's best defenders this year and we are heartbroken for her," said head coach Vlatko Andonovski. "She has worked so hard to make an impact on our club. She has one of the best attitudes around this injury and we are confident she will make a full return as she tackles her recovery process with a positive attitude. Her teammates have been incredibly supportive, and we have talented players that will be able to step in during her absence.”

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) announced several new senior level hires, appointing Michelle Haines as Vice President, Marketing; Jennifer Levine as Vice President, Public Relations and Communications; and Derek Throneburg as Vice President, Club Business. Throneburg will report to Chief Operating Officer Sarah Jones Simmer. Haines and Levine will report to Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, Julie Haddon. "The NWSL has already set records for fan attendance and viewership through our new broadcast partnerships," said Commissioner Jessica Berman. "To continue fueling this momentum, it was critical for us to hire leaders with deep, diverse experience to fuel the next phase of our growth and build on our fandom.”

Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda joins Attacking Third to chat playing in America, signing with the Orlando Pride, fellow Zambian Grace Chanda joining the club and more!

USL Super League

The USL Super League unveiled the Fall Schedule of the 2024/25 inaugural season. The Fall Schedule will kick off on Saturday, August 17, and close out on Saturday, December 14, ahead of a Winter Break. The Fall will see each club play a balanced 14-match schedule - seven at home and seven away - followed by a similarly balanced 14-match schedule in the Spring. The Spring Schedule will kick off in February. In total, the inaugural USL Super League season will consist of 112 regular season matches. "Releasing the Fall Schedule is another milestone in the formation of the USL Super League," said Amanda Vandervort, USL Super League President. "Competing on a fall-to-spring calendar and playing a balanced schedule further aligns the league with the global game, which has always been our strategy. The Super League is thrilled to be providing elite players the opportunity to compete at the highest level and give fans the chance to watch top-tier on-field competition.”

MLS NEXT Pro

This past weekend was a party at Carolina Core FC's home opener, as the fans showed up to support their home team in the first-ever CCFC match at Truist Point.

FOOTBALL

United Football League

The St. Louis Battlehawks secured home-field advantage for the XFL Conference Championship with a 13-12 victory over the San Antonio Brahmas in front of 34,379 fans at The Dome at America's Center. The Battlehawks (7-3) and Brahmas (7-3) will meet again in the conference championship contest at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 9 at The Dome at America's Center. The game will be televised on FOX and simulcast on FOX Sports on Sirius XM Radio.

UFL Top 10 plays from Week 10

The Top-10 most INCREDIBLE plays of the UFL season

Canadian Football League

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced today, the football club has signed American receiver Steven Dunbar Jr. Dunbar, 28, suited up in 13 games last season for the Edmonton Elks, registering 39 receptions for 536 yards with five touchdowns. The 6'3, 200-pound native of New Orleans, Louisiana, began his CFL career with the Ticats, where he suited up in 29 regular season games and three playoff games over his two seasons (2021-22), totalling 116 receptions for 1,630 yards with 10 touchdowns. He was named a CFL East All-Star in 2022 after posting a career-best 72 receptions for 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. Dunbar spent time in 2024 with the United Football League's Houston Roughnecks before heading back to the CFL.

Henoc Muamba and Donnovan Bennett get heated as they go through their lists of the top 10 players in the CFL right now!

Indoor Football League

IFL plays of the Week - Week 11

Arena Football League

The Arena Football League (AFL) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Jared Widman as the League's new President and Chief Operating Officer. This strategic decision aligns with the vision of G6 Sports Investment Group, LLC, the proprietors of the AFL and its intellectual property. Jared Widman brings nearly 20 years of executive leadership experience to the AFL. With a distinguished career as a Chief Officer for three national corporations, his leadership, extensive business acumen, educational background, and industry expertise make him an invaluable asset to the League. Over two decades, Jared has honed his skills and amassed a wealth of C-Suite experience, marked by a goal-oriented approach and a remarkable record of success. Widman expressed his enthusiasm for this new role, stating, "This challenge is welcomed with open arms and I intend to attack it head-on. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done and I am honored with the faith and trust League ownership and Commissioner Fisher have placed in me. A series of major league-wide announcements will present new sponsors, events, and partnerships in the coming days and weeks. We are excited about what we plan to bring to the American public, this season and beyond."

Arena Football League Chairman Chris Chetty opens about how AFL got in this position.

National Arena League

The Omaha Beef has announced the newest members of the Beef Hall of Fame. The six members are the second class of the organization. The newest members are: Running Back RJ Rollins, TE/OL/WR Chad Mustard, Rump Roaster Doc Southwick, QB Matt LaFleur, Kicker Brandon Stewart, and Pat Kenison a season ticket holder. The six will be honored at halftime of the June 8th game between the Beef and the Carolina Cobras. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30pm and Liberty First Credit Union Arena.

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association

Take in all the top plays and big moments from game action during Week 2

Canadian Elite Basketball League

The Montréal Alliance is proud to announce the signing of Montréal native Guillaume Boucard for the 2024 season of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). A six-foot-six forward, Boucard played three CEBL seasons with the Niagara River Lions, with whom he was named Canadian Player of the Year and to the league's first All-Star team in 2019. "We are excited to welcome Guillaume back home to Montréal and to the Alliance", said Alliance General Manager Joel Anthony. "Guillaume brings a proven track record of success both in the CEBL and overseas. His experience and leadership will play a huge part on the team's success this season.” Boucard played the 2019, 2020 and 2021 CEBL seasons with the Niagara River Lions, averaging 16.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 31.4 minutes per game in 2019. Since his last CEBL season, Boucard has played the 2021-22, 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons in France with Denain (Pro B), Saint-Chamond (Pro B) and Le Havre (NM1). Aged 34, the forward has played a total of eight professional seasons. In 2019-20 with Mulhouse, in France, Boucard averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 36.9 minutes per game.

Top 5 Dunks of the Season so far

BIG3

The BIG3, the premier professional 3-on-3 basketball league, is excited to unveil rosters for the upcoming season following an exhilarating draft. Teams are now set with a mix of veteran talent and dynamic newcomers ready to compete for the championship.

Unrivaled Women's Basketball League

Breanna Stewart talks new Unrivaled women's basketball league. The two-time Olympic gold medalist discusses the recent rise in popularity in women's basketball and how her brand-new league will help the game.

BASEBALL

International League

Mets third baseman Brett Baty hits a pair of home runs a combined 836 feet for Triple-A Syracuse

Pacific Coast League

Dodgers No. 21 prospect Trey Sweeney flies around the bases to score standing up on an inside-the-park homer for Triple-A Oklahoma City

Eastern League

Yankees No. 2 prospect Spencer Jones hits a walk-off single for Double-A Somerset

LACROSSE

National Lacrosse League

The Saskatchewan Rush have signed Derek Keenan, Jimmy Quinlan and Jeremy Tallevi to contract extensions through the 2024-25 season. Keenan, a three-time NLL GM and coach of the year, will stay on the bench as co-head coach with Jimmy Quinlan next season, while continuing to handle general manager duties. "There's still work to be done and I am thrilled to be a part of it from both the management and coaching side," said Keenan. "I would like to thank the Priestner Family and the entire Rush management team for the continued opportunity to work with such a great organization.”

2024 NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time: Game 2 Cinematic Recap

OTHER SPORTS

Pro Volleyball Federation

Pro Volleyball Federation - the newest women's professional indoor volleyball league in the United States - finished its inaugural season this month with much to celebrate including players, fans and communities that shared in the tremendous success. The League debuted with seven teams, putting squads on the court in Atlanta, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Omaha, Orlando, San Diego and Vegas. It created immediate fan interest and engagement by attracting world-class players and coaches and Pro Volleyball Federation ensured that the level and quality of play as well as investment in and treatment of players, was the best offered anywhere. The results paid off for all involved. "Sports fans were watching these amazing athletes, as our League posted overall attendance just under 400,000 fans with 3.9 million viewers streaming matches on YouTube," touted Jen Spicher, CEO of the Pro Volleyball Federation. "Our players were also compensated for their talents, with a minimum salary of at least $60,000 for the season. Some earned as much as $125,000 and several secured bonus money as well.” The League will continue to be a leader in player compensation, as increased salaries for 2025 were announced in March. Top salaries have been set at $175,000, along with additional benefits of approximately $10,000 per player, making the league one of the strongest in financial benefits for women's professional sports.

Ultimate Frisbee Association

Jeff Babbitt won three titles and an MVP in New York. Now with Boston, Babbitt helped the Glory get their first-ever win against the Empire, and snap New York's 30-game home winning streak that dated back to June 2018.

The Biggest Layout Catches from the First Month of the Season

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Arena Football League Stories from June 4, 2024


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