American Hockey League

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 30, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL)


Pioneer League: The independent Pioneer League, which is one of Major League Baseball's Partner Leagues, started its 2022 season this week with ten teams aligned in five-team Northern and Southern divisions. The league had eight teams in its first season as an independent league in 2021, but added the new Glacier Range Riders (Kalispell, MT) to the Northern Division and the Northern Colorado Owlz (Windsor) to the Southern Division. The Owlz were formerly the Orem (UT) Owlz from the previous affiliated version of the Pioneer League. The team moved to Windsor (CO) in 2020, but sat out last season as it waited for completion of its new home field.

Northwest League: The Tri-City Dust Devils (Pasco, WA) of the High-A Northwest League will play seven games this summer as the Tri-City Rooster Tails as a tribute to the hydroplane boat races held in the Columbia River. The "rooster tail" refers to the large plume of water thrown into the air from the back of the hydroplane's engine.

Southern League: The Chattanooga Lookouts of the Double-A Southern League held a Negro League Appreciation Weekend and the team played as the Chattanooga Choo-Choos in Friday and Saturday games as a tribute to the city's former Negro League team. The games were played against the Birmingham Barons, who were renamed the Birmingham Black Barons for that city's former Negro League team.

Texas League: The Corpus Christi Hooks of the Double-A Texas League played as the Corpus Christi Blue Ghosts as part of a Military Appreciation Weekend and as a tribute to the area's USS Lexington aircraft carrier that was called "The Blue Ghost" during World War II.

American Association: The Kane County (IL) Cougars of the independent American Association played a game this weekend as the Kane County Atomic Pork Chops. The name is a tribute to both Fermilab, a nearby lab specializing in high-energy particle physics, and the team's signature pork chop sandwich. This was the first of four games to be played this season as the Atomic Pork Chops.


BIG3 League: The 12-team tour-based BIG3 League, which plays a 3-on-3 style of basketball called Fireball3, announced its 2022 regular season will start on June 18 with the first two weekend events held in Chicago followed by seven weekend events in Dallas. There will then be two weekend playoff events followed by an All-Star game to be held in The Bahamas.

Canadian Elite Basketball League: The minor professional CEBL started its 2022 season this weekend with ten teams aligned in a single-table format. The CEBL had seven teams last season, but has added three expansion teams called the Montreal Alliance, Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's) and Scarborough Shooting Stars (Ontario). Each team will play a 20-game schedule through the first week of August.

Women's Basketball Development Association: The WBDA recently started its 2022 season with 15 teams aligned in an eight-team Eastern Conference and a seven-team Western Conference. After sitting out the 2020 season, the WBDA played a condensed 2021 schedule with 13 teams, but only 4 of those teams returned for 2022. Of the 11 teams added for 2022, the Oakland Rise returned after last playing in the 2019 season and the Maryland Jewels join from the Women's American Basketball Association. Some other teams added for 2022 had been announced for the cancelled 2020 season and waited to start in 2022.


Elite Indoor Football: The semi-pro EIF announced the Alabama Empire (Montgomery) team has been permanently removed from the league for failing to follow league requirements. The EIF also announced it has cancelled any 2022 crossover games that were to have been played against teams from the new Federated Arena League (FAL) due to unsafe conditions at one of the FAL facilities.


American Hockey League: The AHL has approved the relocation of the league's Stockton (CA) Heat, which is the AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames, to Calgary (Alberta) starting with the 2022-23 season. The Stockton Heat has been part of the AHL since the 2015-16 season.

Eastern Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level EHL and its developmental EHL Premier league are ending its affiliation with USA Hockey and will operate as an independent junior hockey league under NCAA rules starting with the 2022-23 season. The EHL was formed for the 2013-14 season from a merger of teams from the Eastern Junior Hockey League and the Atlantic Junior Hockey League.

Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The PWHPA, which played as a tour-based operation the past three seasons (2019-22), is reported to have entered into a formal agreement with two investment groups to explore the development of a new six-team women's professional hockey league. One of the investors controls the Los Angeles Dodgers and the other is Billie Jean King, who co-founded World TeamTennis and has ownership interests in several sports teams. The PWHPA recently broke off discussions about possible collaboration with the current women's six-team professional hockey league called the Premier Hockey Federation.


National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL's Los Angeles-based Angel City FC announced a two-year partnership with the Mexican women's professional team called the Tigres UANL Femenil, which is based in the Monterrey area and is part of Mexico's top women's professional soccer league called the Liga MX Femenil. The partnership will include two friendlies, one in August 2022 and one next season, along with other community events in the two cities.

USL W-League: The men's Oakland Roots team in the Division-II professional USL Championship league, will launch a women's team called the Oakland Soul as part of the pre-professional USL W-League starting with the 2023 season. The is the W-League's second California expansion team for 2023.


Major Series Lacrosse: The 2022 season of Canada's six-team Ontario-based indoor (box lacrosse) Senior-A MSL was supposed to begin play this weekend, but this has been postponed due to the financial risks the MLS might face from potential litigation regarding the 2018 sale and eventual relocation of the league's Brampton Excelsiors team to Owen Sound. The Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA) has voided the sale and is demanding Brampton Excelsior be returned to Brampton, while the buyer has threatened legal action against the MSL, the OLA and any Brampton Excelsiors team that might be reestablished in the MSL. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the MSL cancelled its 2020 and 2021 regular seasons, but did hold a short five-week tournament with five teams in the summer of 2021.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking changes in the sports world's leagues, teams and nicknames since April 2007.

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American Hockey League Stories from May 30, 2022

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