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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 11, 2015 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

Independent Baseball League: The IBL started play last season with four teams, but it looks as though the league will not return for a second season in 2015. The league operated all teams that included a travel team called the Ohio Travelers based out of Marion (OH) and teams called the Tiffin (OH) Saints, Adrian (MI) Pioneers and a Marion-based team called the Shovel City Crawlers. The Crawlers dropped out during the 2014 season, while the Saints announced in February 2015 the team would not return.

United Baseball League: The independent UBL is expected to go dormant for the 2015 season after playing last season with four teams - the Fort Worth Cats, Rio Grande Valley Whitewings (Harlingen, TX), San Angelo Colts and a Brownsville Charros team that played all home games in Harlingen. The Cats lost its home field after the 2014 season, the WhiteWings ceased operations in February 2015 and the San Angelo Colts were emerging from bankruptcy filed during last season.

Pacific International League: The semi-pro Pacific International League, which operates with teams in Washington State and British Columbia, has added teams called the Highline Bears (West Seattle) and the Snoqualmie Valley (WA) Hurricanes for the 2015 season. The league consists of current college players along with former college and pro players.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association are planning to launch their own NBA D-League team by the 2016-17 season. The team is considering the North Carolina cities of Asheville, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Raleigh and the South Carolina cities of Charleston, Columbia and Greenville. Four of these markets had teams in the first years of the league when it was concentrated in the Southeast. The Greenville Groove played two seasons (2001-03), the North Charleston/Charleston Lowgators three seasons (2001-04), the Asheville Altitude four seasons (2001-05) and the Fayetteville Patriots played five seasons (2001-06).

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a team called the Salt Lake City Dream will be part of the 2015-16 season. An ABA team by the same name failed to get off the ground for the 2006-07 season and tried again in 2008-09 as the Salt Lake City Dreams, which was quickly renamed the Salt Lake City Saints because the ABA had a team in Anchorage called the Alaska Dream. The Saints played a couple of games in 2008-09 and disappeared. A Salt Lake City team called the Utah Snowbears was part of the 2004-05 ABA season.

FOOTBALL

National Pro-Indoor Football: The new NPIF, which is part of the organization called North American Indoor Football and trying to get off the ground with a full season in 2016, announced the Augusta (GA) Gladiators have been renamed the CSRA Gladiators (Central Savannah River Area) and will now be based out of Aiken (SC). The new name is for plans to market to fans in Augusta, North Augusta, Aiken and surrounding counties. The Gladiators plan to schedule some exhibition games for this summer.

F League Developmental: The new F-League Developmental indoor/outdoor league is trying to get off the ground in the Northeast this summer and lists four teams called the Philadelphia Birds, New Jersey Gargantuans (Trenton), Baltimore Vultures and Pennsylvania Builders. The Philadelphia Birds played an exhibition game this weekend in Reading against the ASI Panthers of American Indoor Football.

Sugar N Spice Football League: The Texas-based women's SSFL announced the schedule for its fourth season that will start next week with seven teams. Of the eight teams from last season, the El Paso Envy and Laredo Roses did not return, but the league added the Houston-based Texas Lady Jaguars. Other teams include the RGV McAllen Mystics, Austin Angels, Corpus Christi Mermaids, San Antonio Texas Cowgirls, Oklahoma City Rayn, and Valley Vixens (Harlingen). The SSFL plays 7-on-7 full-contact football on 50-yard indoor fields, although some games have been played outdoors.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League officially announced its Winnipeg-based AHL affiliate will be called the Manitoba Moose starting with the 2015-16 season. The Jets announced in March 2015 that they were moving its AHL affiliate called the St. John's IceCaps from Newfoundland to Manitoba with the Montreal Canadiens moving its Hamilton Bulldogs AHL affiliate to St. John's. The ownership of the Winnipeg Jets operated the AHL's Manitoba Moose franchise from 2001 to 2011. When the ownership purchased the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and moved the team to become the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, the Manitoba Moose became an affiliate of the Jets and the AHL team was moved to St. John's as the IceCaps for the 2011-12 season. The Jets had been considering a move of its AHL affiliate to a proposed new arena in Thunder Bay (Ontario), but that project has not gotten off the ground.

North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL is undergoing more changes for the 2015-16 season. The league's Soo Eagles team, based in Sault Ste Marie (MI), is moving to Middletown (NJ) where it will operate as the New Jersey Junior Titans. The New Jersey Titans organization operated a Tier-III team in the Eastern Hockey League for the 2014-15 season. The NAHL's Wenatchee (WA) Wild was reported to be moving to Canada's Junior-A British Columbia Hockey League for next season. The owner of the Topeka RoadRunners did not exercise an extension on the team's arena lease and its future in the city for next season is uncertain.

Southern Professional Hockey League: The A-level SPHL held a player draft this week for its new expansion team called the Macon (GA) Mayhem that will start play in the 2015-16 season. Macon will be the league's ninth team and is the former Augusta (GA) RiverHawks franchise, which stopped playing after the 2012-13 season due to the failure of the ice system at its home arena and decided to relocate.

Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League: Canada's Junior-A NOJHL could grow from 9 to 12 teams for the 2015-16 season. A new team called the French River Rapids has been added, while the league is considering the addition of the new Espanola Express and a team in Sault Ste Marie (MI), which just lost its Soo Eagles Tier-II North American Hockey League team in a move to New Jersey. Other changes include the Sudbury Nickel Barons moving to become the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens, the Abitibi Eskimos moving from Iroquois Falls to become the Timmins Rock, and the Mattawa Blackhawks moving to Iroquois Falls as the Iroquois Falls Eskimos.

SOCCER

Premier Development League: The United Soccer Leagues pro-am PDL started its 2015 season this week with 64 teams aligned into Eastern and Western conferences each with three regional divisions and Southern and Central conferences each with two regional divisions. New teams for this season include the Burlingame (CA) Dragons FC, Calgary Foothills FC, FC Miami City Champions, Lehigh Valley United Sonic, New York, Palm Beach (FL) Suns FC and Toronto FC Academy. The Charlotte Eagles and Dayton Dutch Lions also joined the PDL from last season's USL PRO league. Four teams underwent name changes: the Spingfield Demize to the Synergy, the River City Rovers (Louisville) to the Derby City Rovers, the Los Angeles Misioneros FC to the Golden State Misioneros FC and Connecticut FC Azul to AC Connecticut.

Western Indoor Soccer League: The elite amateur-level WISL, which completed its inaugural 2014-15 season with five teams based in the state of Washington, has added the Vancouver (WA) Victory club for the 2015-16 season. The Vancouver Victory is an outdoor team currently competing in the second season of the elite-level Evergreen Premier League of Washington.

Major Arena Soccer League: The owner of the Baltimore Blast stated the team has left the one-year-old MASL and will form a new indoor soccer league with several other MASL teams likely to join. The new league would operate with individual franchises rather than under a single-entity ownership model.

OTHER

Arena Lacrosse League: The new ALL plans to start play in 2016 as a summer indoor lacrosse league for the development of elite-level players. The league will be comprised of current collegiate players, along with some college graduates and non-collegiate players, and concentrate on the development of American lacrosse players. The season will run from late May to early September and the league plans to use minor league hockey arenas in the United States. The ALL will hold a Showcase Tour in ten cities during July and August 2015. Five western tour locations will be Everett (WA), Stockton (CA), Portland (OR), Salt Lake City (UT) and Boise (ID), while the five eastern tour locations will be Wilkes-Barre (PA), Albany (NY), Baltimore (MD), Trenton (NJ) and Allentown (PA).

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2013-14: "The Leagueology Almanac" , which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is currently available at www.amazon.com.


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American Hockey League Stories from May 11, 2015


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