PRO HOCKEY

ChiTown Shooters leave AAHL, will join junior league in 2011

2010-08-18T11:45:00Z 2010-08-20T13:50:08Z ChiTown Shooters leave AAHL, will join junior league in 2011By Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

The Chi-Town Shooters hockey team announced it has left the All American Hockey League and will start a junior league team for the 2011-12 season.

"There were very specific reasons that led us to this point," owner and coach Darren Seid said. "There were some things that happened around June that had this feeling come out of the ownership group. It was an unfortunate turn of events that led us here, but this is the option we had to go with.

"I'm not able to get too detailed on the exact reasons, but there has been an ongoing discussion since late June, and we finally had to come out with this announcement."

The Shooters, originally brought to the Region in 2008 as part of the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League, joined the AAHL during the first season in 2008-09 and won a league title that year. They have played home games out of the Midwest Training and Ice Center in St. John.

Last season, they finished 30-11-5, falling in the championship semifinals to eventual runner-up West Michigan.

This offseason, the 2010 AAHL champion Evansville IceMen suspended operations, before the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League were moved to Evansville and renamed the IceMen.

The AAHL also lost the Madison Muskies and Chicago Blaze during this past regular season.

The move to a junior league will allow the Shooters to draw younger players from around the area to compete at the national level.

"Our approach is going to be to get as many local players as we can," Seid said.

The Shooters haven't settled on a junior league to join yet, weighing options in both the Central State Hockey League or a USA Hockey Junior B League.

Two-year Shooters player/assistant coach Jim Stussy will be named the coach of the new junior league team and as the Midwest Training and Ice Center Hockey Director, Seid said.

"That gives us a foothold with all the high school players that are there and the youth teams in there," Seid said. "He's been a great assistant of mine for two years and a huge piece of our success."

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