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 Hartford Wolf Pack

Rangers Enter Affiliation Agreement with ECHL's Bloomington Bison

May 30, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Hartford Wolf Pack News Release


HARTFORD, CT - New York Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury announced today that the club has entered an affiliation agreement with the ECHL's Bloomington Bison. The Bison will function as a development affiliate for the Rangers and their primary developmental affiliate, the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack.

"Entering an affiliation agreement with the ECHL's newest team in the Bloomington Bison is an exciting opportunity for the New York Rangers," said Rangers Assistant General Manager and Wolf Pack General Manager Ryan Martin.

"We take pride in building our team with competitive players from our minor league affiliates. Bloomington, as well as the continued partnership of the Hartford Wolf Pack, will provide us with even more resources to succeed in developing our prospects."

The Bison will play home games at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington, IL. The 2024-25 season will be the club's inaugural campaign.

Phillip Barski will serve as the head coach of the team. The native of Richmond Hill, ON, spent the last two seasons on the coaching staff of the OHL's Barrie Colts. He served as an Assistant Coach during the 2022-23 season, then spent the 2023-24 campaign as the Associate Coach. Before joining the Colts, Barski spent two seasons as an Assistant Coach with the ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

"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."

While the Bison will play their first season in the ECHL starting in October, the city has a long hockey history. The Bloomington PrairieThunder of the UHL/IHL (2006-2010) and CHL (2010-11) were the first professional team to play out of the Central Illinois city.

The Bloomington Blaze of the CHL (2011-2013) then took the spotlight before moving to the SPHL as the Bloomington Thunder (2013-14).

The city has also been the home to junior hockey. The USHL's Bloomington franchise was known as the Thunder from its inception in 2014 through the 2016-17 season. They were rebranded as the Central Illinois Flying Aces for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

Notable Bloomington hockey alumni include forwards Mitchell Chaffee (USHL Thunder, TBL), Tyler Madden (USHL Flying Aces, LAK), and Walker Duehr (USHL Thunder, CGY), defensemen Wyatt Kalynuk (USHL Thunder, STL), Michael Callahan (USHL Flying Aces, BOS), Jeremy Davies (USHL Thunder, BUF), Brogan Rafferty (USHL Thunder, DET), Vince Pedrie (USHL Thunder), and Ryan Siedem (USHL Flying Aces, HFD), and goaltender Mitch Gibson (USHL Flying Aces, WSH).

Kalynuk (2022-23), Pedrie (2016-17 - 2018-19), and Siedem (2023-24) all suited up for the Wolf Pack during their professional careers. Siedem is under contract with the club for the 2024-25 season.


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