Empty Seats Plague NCAA Hockey in Worcester
Monday, March 28, 2016
The NCAA Regionals brought three New England teams to the building. Defending National Champion Providence College, Harvard and Boston College comprised three of the four teams in the building and even with all the local favorites attendance was disappointing.
The NCAA has not released attendance numbers, but video from the games show empty yellow seats out numbering fans. For hockey, the building has a listed capacity of 12,239, but attendance was poor.
New Team’s Future
In the past few years, Worcester’s DCU has lost two minor league hockey teams.Worcester is being presented with a new team. In February, the EHCL announced they were awarding a team to Worcester. The EHCL is a level of hockey significantly lower than the IceCats and Sharks that played in the AHL. The league is double AA hockey and unlike the AHL which shuffles players between their rosters NHL rosters all season, the ECHL is comprised of affiliated teams and independent teams alike.
As Worcester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tim Murray told GoLocalWorcester in 2015, "Everyone recognizes the DCU as one of the better facilities in the AHL. Three thousand on average in attendance is respectable. By and large, if you're able to bring in the right type of ownership group, I think there's the right opportunity here in Worcester."
For the DCU Center, hosting a team is critical to the viability and mission of the building. The challenge is that fans in Central Massachusetts are used to the talent and rivalries of the AHL and now will be presenting an expansion team in a lower level of play.
Worcester v. Providence
While Worcester’s NCAA hockey was a bust, Providence scored the most successful 1st and 2nd rounds of the NCAA Basketball tournament this year. The Providence had the highest ticket price of any 1st/2nd round venue and sold out the fastest.
Related Slideshow: A History of Hockey in Worcester
Worcester's 1st Pro Hockey Team, Worcester Warriors
The Worcester Warriors played their first season as part of the Eastern Hockey League (EHL). The Warriors played their games at Worcester (Webster Square) Arena.
In their first season, under Head Coach John "Hans" Marsden, the Warriors went 3-17 and finished in last place.
Other Teams in the EHL that season included the Washington Lions, Clinton Comets, New Haven Blades and Baltimore Clippers.
Photo is of Harold Songin, courtesy of EHL.com
Worcester Crusaders Youth Hockey is Established
The Worcester Crusaders served as one of the oldest youth hockey organizations in the Massachusetts.
The Crusaders competed in the New England Hockey League, one of the best youth hockey leagues in North America.
For the 2011/12 season, the Crusaders sponsored 9 teams ranging from mite division to midget division.
Photo courtesy of Crusaders website
The IceCats Come to Worcester
The IceCats came to Worcester prior to the 1994-95 season and played their games at the Worcester Centrum.
The IceCats went 24-45-11 in their first season and finished in 6th place in the conference.
However, the IceCats would turn it around and make the playoffs in every season after that, except 2004-2005, but would never advance past the second round.
Notable players from the IceCats include goaltender Dwayne Roloson, enforcer Sylvain Blouin, Steve Staios, Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Nagy and Terry Virtue.
Worcester IceCats are Moved to Illinois
After the St. Louis Blues announced the sale of the IceCats in 2004, the team was moved prior to the 2005-2006 season to Peoria Illinois.
The team was known was the Peoria Riverman from 2005-2013, and is currently known as the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Sharks Arrive in Worcester
The Cleveland Barons were moved to Worcester and became the Sharks, the AHL Affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks played their first home game on October 14 in front of a sold out DCU Center.
In their first season, Worcester went 41-28-3 (OT Loss)- 8 (shootout Loss) and made the playoffs. The Sharks lost to the Manchester Monarchs in the first round.
Sharks Have Most Successful Season
Sharks had their best season in 2009-10 when they went 49-25-3-3 and finished in first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Sharks made the playoffs but lost in the second round to the Manchester Monarchs.
The captain of the team was Ryan Vescue and the Head Coach was Roy Sommer.
Worcester Crusaders Merge With the Worcester Junior Sharks
The two organizations combined bring in more than 550 kids and just over 92 USA Hockey certified coaches.
The Worcester Junior Sharks program is structured to allow each player to develop and test their skills at three distinct levels of competition (House, Travel and AAA Elite)
For more information on the Junior Sharks, click here.
Jan. 29, 2015
AHL Announces Sharks are Moving to San Jose
The American Hockey League announced that at seasons end, the Worcester Sharks would be packing up and going across country to become the San Jose Barracuda.
The move was made so that the San Jose Sharks would be able to call up and send down players easier.
May 1, 2015
Sharks Play Final Game
In their final game, the Worcester Sharks lost 10-4 to the Hershey Bears, losing the playoff series 3-1.
In 9 seasons in Worcester, the Sharks made the playoffs 4 times, never advancing past the second round.
Notable players in Worcester Sharks history include Jonathan Cheechoo, Sandis Ozolinsh, Joe Pavelski and Claude Lemieux.
February 8, 2016
ECHL Announces Team Coming to Worcester
The ECHL announced that the league's board of governors unanimously approved the new membership application from Worcester Pro Hockey LLC.
The first puck drop for the new franchise is set for the 2017-18 season, a season that also marks the 30th anniversary of the ECHL.
The team name and logo will be announced at a fan fest that is set to take place on April 3, 2016, at the DCU Center.
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