AHL Western Conference: Midwest Division

My look at the Western Conference of the AHL continues today with the Midwest Division.
All five teams in the Midwest Division have parent clubs in the Western Conference of the NHL.
The Charlotte Checkers are the only team in the Midwest who don't have a geographic proximity to the rest of the division. Teams in Milwaukee, Rockford, Peoria and Chicago are all located within a relatively close distance to one another.


Milwaukee Admirals (NSH) 5 4 0 0 1 9 15 8
Charlotte Checkers (CAR) 7 4 2 1 0 9 22 19
Rockford IceHogs (CHI) 7 3 4 0 0 6 17 23
Peoria Rivermen (STL) 7 2 3 1 1 6 23 24
Chicago Wolves (VAN) 7 2 3 0 2 6 15 20

More after the jump:

Milwaukee Admirals

Franchise History-
Believe it or not, there are two teams in the AHL, using "Admirals" as their nickname. The other is the Norfolk (VA) Admirals. This club got its start in 1970 as an amateur team. A local appliance dealer bought into the club renaming the team "Admirals" (as in an appliance brand, not the nautical type).

The team moved from the USHL into the IHL in 1977, where they remained until the league folded and six of the teams were awarded AHL expansion franchises.

The Admirals have been very successful since joining the "A", winning the Calder Cup in 2004. Also, in the ten seasons they have skated in the AHL, they've only missed the playoffs once and that was in their first season in the league.

Players to Watch-
Chris Mueller, Ryan Thang, Kyle Wilson (surely you remember him)
Victor Bartley, Taylor Aronson, Ryan Ellis
Jeremy Smith, Atte Engren

Milwaukee Admirals Snapshot
NHL Affiliate - Nashville Predators
Head Coach - Kirk Muller
Assistant Coach - Ian Herbers
Home Ice - Bradley Center
Website - milwaukeeadmirals.com

Charlotte Checkers

Franchise History-
The origin of the Checkers dates back to 1990. An expansion franchise was awarded to the Troy, NY area and the Capital District Islanders were born. The CDI, as they were known, had a direct effect on the Springfield Indians. The Islanders were the parent club of the Indians for the Calder Cup winning 1990 season. Shortly after the parade through downtown Springfield, the Islanders moved their prospects to the Capital District. The Islanders moved into the city of Albany for the '93-'94 season and were renamed the Albany River Rats. The Rats remained an Albany fixture until 2010 when the franchise was sold and relocated to Charlotte, NC for the 2010-2011 season.

Players to Watch-
Jon Matsumoto, Drayson Bowman, Jerome Samson
Bobby Sanguinetti, Justin Faulk, Mathieu Roy
Mike Murphy, Justin Peters

Checkers Snapshot
NHL Affiliate - Carolina Hurricanes
Head Coach/General Manager - Jeff Daniels
Assistant Coach - Geordie Kinnear
Home Ice - Time Warner Cable Arena
Website - gocheckers.com

Rockford IceHogs

Franchise History-
The IceHogs franchise dates back to 1995, when the Baltimore Bandits were admitted to the AHL as an expansion franchise. After two forgettable seasons, the Bandits franchise moved to Cincinnati as the Mighty Ducks. The Mighty Ducks remained on the scene until 2005. After a year where the franchise was dormant, it reemerged as the current day IceHogs.

Players to Watch-
Kyle Beach, Rob Klinkhammer, Brandon Pirri
Brian Connelly, Shawn Lalonde, Brian Fahey
Alec Richards

IceHogs Snapshot
NHL Affiliate - Chicago Blackhawks
Head Coach - Ted Dent
Assistant Coach - Steve Poapst
Assistant Coach - Ben Simon
Home Ice - BMO Harris Bank Center
Website - icehogs.com

Peoria Rivermen

Franchise History-
The Rivermen are another franchise with a tie-in to Springfield's hockey past. The Rivermen are in fact, the original Springfield Indians franchise.

Peoria has had pro hockey since 1982, when the Prancers joined the IHL. In 1996, the Rivermen moved into the ECHL, where they remained until 2005.

Meanwhile, in the AHL, the Worcester IceCats franchise was available, and the Rivermen moved into the "A".

In their six seasons in the A, the Rivermen have been to the playoffs three times, coming up short in the first round each time.

Players to Watch-
TJ Hensick, Brett Sterling, Adam Cracknell
Danny Syvret, Mark Cundari, Cade Fairchild
Ben Bishop, Jake Allen

Rivermen Snapshot
NHL Affiliate - St. Louis Blues
Head Coach - Jared Bednar
Assistant Coach - Drake Berehowsky
Assistant Coach - Danny Brooks
Home Ice - Peoria Civic Center
Website - rivermen.net

Chicago Wolves

Franchise History-
The Wolves started play in the IHL in 1994, and since then, have been as close to a dynasty as you'll find in the minor leagues.

The club won the IHL Turner Cup twice (1998, 2000) and they have won the Calder Cup twice since joining the AHL in 2001 (2002, 2008).

Last season was a rarity for the Wolves, in that they missed the playoffs while affiliated with the Atlanta Thrashers. This season, they have embarked on a new affiliation, this time with the Vancouver Canucks.

An interesting fact about the Wolves franchise: they have never suffered through a losing (sub .500) season.

Players to Watch-
Darren Haydar, Mark Mancari, Kevin Doell
Kevin Connauton, Dustin Friesen, Yann Sauve
Eddie Lack, Matt Climie

Wolves Snapshot
NHL Affilate - Vancouver Canucks
Head Coach - Craig MacTavish
Assistant Coach - Karl Taylor
Home Ice - Allstate Arena
Website - chicagowolves.com

Tomorrow: The West Division

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