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ECHL

Indy Fuel get up to speed with ECHL expansion

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Indy Fuel get up to speed with ECHL expansion

START YOUR ENGINES

The ECHL expands to 22 teams in 2014-15 with the addition of the Indy Fuel. The announcement of the new franchise and the unveiling of its logo came back in November. (Apologies for the extended delay!)

The club's logo was designed by Indianapolis-based ad agency CVR. Despite the professional credentials, it looks a bit like the work of an amateur. Can't help but wonder if CVR gave the project to an intern.

No one wants to look at it. // Photo from Indy Star

No one wants to look at it. // Photo from Indy Star

What an odd place the ECHL is when it comes to logos. So hit and miss. In the same year that brought the epic Orlando Solar Bears logo came that of the now-defunct San Francisco Bulls. Go figure.

Via Twitter, the team promised a jersey unveiling in "the next few months" — remember that was in November — but I still haven't seen anything. Hopefully they'll have it sorted out soon.

The Fuel will play at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis. They are now one of three teams based in the state of Indiana, joining the Fort Wayne Komets and Evansville IceMen.

Currently, the Fuel are running a contest to have fans create the team mascot.

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Find the Indy Fuel online:

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A rainbow of jerseys mark colorful Alaska Aces season

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A rainbow of jerseys mark colorful Alaska Aces season

Since the relaunch of Icethetics in February, I've been trying to showcase more minor league theme jerseys. Recently, the ECHL's Alaska Aces caught my eye with their wide variety of designs.

Photos by Skip Hickey, from Alaska Aces via Facebook

Primary Uniforms

First, I should show you the Aces' regular home, road and alternate uniforms. Most readers have probably never seen them — especially because they just debuted this season.

Now you have an idea of what the team normally looks like. What follows is very different.

Paint the Rink Pink

October 8–9
The Aces wore pink for a preseason back-to-back series with the Cincinnati Cyclones. What a way to start the year, right? New fans may have heard the team was getting new jerseys this year. Imagine their surprise when the players stepped onto the ice.

Find more photos on the Aces' Facebook page.

As with all pink sports uniforms, they were created to raise awareness for breast cancer treatment and were auctioned to fans after the game. Proceeds were donated to Breast Cancer Focus, Inc. and the American Cancer Society.

Alaska lost the first game 4-2 but beat Cincinnati the next night 6-4. 

Pirate Night

October 19
Opening weekend brought a unique theme jersey. I haven't seen a lot of teams do Pirate Night, but that's just what the Aces did for the second night of a back-to-back with the San Francisco Bulls (may they rest in peace). They even encouraged fans to dress up as pirates too.

I'm actually kind of impressed by the attention to detail on this one. The jersey design itself is pretty cool, but check out the shoulder patches. Those were a particularly nice touch. It's also worth seeing the back. Find more photos on their Facebook page.

A night after falling to the Bulls 2-1, the Aces turned things around in a big way with a mighty aaarrrgh! or so it seemed, winning 5-0.

Military Appreciation

November 15–16
A month later came Military Appreciation Weekend. For back-to-back games against the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Aces wore digital camo jerseys, with the American flag on the right shoulder and the Alaskan flag on the left — perhaps borrowing a trick from their NHL affiliate in Calgary.

On the first night, the Aces lost 4-3, but like the pink rink weekend, they followed up with a win, beating Las Vegas 5-2. As usual, the Aces have a wealth of photos on their Facebook page if you're interested.

Hawaiian Night

December 21
Say you're an ice hockey team in Alaska. How do you celebrate the first day of winter? By wearing something tropical, of course. This is how the Aces do Hawaiian Night. It's extremely colorful!

The event was sponsored by Alaska Airlines, who gave away a trip to Hawaii during the game. That's gotta cheer up any Alaskan at such a dismal time of year.

Hawaiian Night turned out to be a success for the Aces, who defeated the Utah Grizzlies 5-3. And you definitely need to see more photos from this game.

As with all of this season's theme jerseys, they were auctioned off after the game.

10th Anniversary Night

January 18
The next month, the Aces celebrated a decade in Anchorage with a special fauxback jersey — and all the vintage white that implies. Despite what you may think, the sweater did not seem to be inspired by anything from the team's past, but it did include a nice 10th anniversary logo on the chest.

Overall, it's hard not to like — especially after Hawaiian Night. Can you believe those two jerseys came from the same team? Still, the more traditional sweater design led Alaska to a 6-0 rout of the Wranglers.

Hockey Heritage Weekend

February 7–8
That brings us to a new special event in the ECHL this season. The league's inaugural Hockey Heritage Weekend was held in Anchorage between the Aces and Stockton Thunder.

The event gives a pair of ECHL teams the chance to wear a classic jersey of their NHL affiliate while inserting their own history. Remember last week when I mentioned there was another hockey team that wore the Flames' throwbacks this season? (And no one seemed to notice.) This is what I was talking about.

The Aces wore retro Flames jerseys complete with the kind of morphed logo you might find on the Concepts page. Meanwhile, the Thunder — affiliated with the New York Islanders — went in a slightly different direction, honoring Stockton's Rough and Ready Island naval base.

Alaska won both games that weekend, 4-2 and 5-2.

St. Patrick's Day Weekend

March 15
The Aces wrapped up their theme jersey schedule with the one color it seems they hadn't yet used this season. Like many, they went green for St. Patrick's Day — a couple days early. And they didn't look to shabby.

Perhaps it was the luck o' the Irish, but Alaska beat the Colorado Eagles 4-2 while wearing a leprechaun on their shirt. A leprechaun who's carrying the Kelly Cup, by the way. I know the Aces are the ECHL's best team right now, but isn't that tempting fate a little?

In fairness, the Aces were Kelly Cup champions in 2006 and 2011.

They haven't posted many photos of the St. Patrick's Day jersey yet, but keep an eye on their Facebook page in case they do.

So what do you think of all these? You can leave a comment below or just rate them.

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Olympic jersey night hits Everblades like a brick

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Olympic jersey night hits Everblades like a brick

Last weekend, the ECHL's Florida Everblades wore one of the year's ugliest minor league specialty jerseys. They were so ugly, in fact, that the players jettisoned them after only 20 minutes of action.

To be honest, the Blades' problems went deeper than jerseys. They were in the midst of a nasty rough patch, allowing 24 goals in five games.

But let's at least admit their marketing department isn't exactly helping them out. As the Everblades hit the ice last Friday (Feb. 7) against the Gwinnett Gladiators, the players wore specially-designed sweaters with a Winter Olympics theme.

Only they were "designed" by kids from a local hospital. And they were an absolute disaster — in terms of aesthetics. I think it's awesome to let sick kids help design a hockey jersey. But certainly a grown-up with taste could've come in somewhere along the way to guide the art direction a bit, no?

According to Craig Handel, Fort Myers News-Press, this happened last Friday:

The Everblades had planned to wear jerseys designed by kids at the Golisano Children’s Hospital, the uniforms feature the Everblades logo in a shiny gold—to represent the medals—over a blue background, with drawings by the children of Olympic events near the waist and flags of the world along the arms.

However, it lasted just one period. Players complained that they looked too much like Gwinnett’s road whites.

Now don't be misled. Gwinnett has great jerseys. When they say the jerseys looked too much alike, I can only assume they were talking about how much red and white were incorporated.

The Blades switched into their regular blue jerseys and had an amazing four-goal second period. Unfortunately, they blew it and ended up losing 6-5 in overtime. But at least they couldn't blame that on the jerseys.

To make matters worse, the rink had been "repainted" earlier that day as fans were invited to decorate the playing surface with all manner of graffiti — Paint the Ice Night. Be sure to flip through all the photos in that slideshow above — but be warned you may feel the urge to poke your eyes out after.

The following night, in a rematch with the Gladiators, only the Everblades' goalies wore those ridiculous jerseys and the team went on to a 3-0 shutout victory — proving that maybe the players were onto something after all.

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Toledo Walleye tease Storm throwback jersey

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Toledo Walleye tease Storm throwback jersey

We thought we'd seen the last of the logo The Hockey News perennially called the worst in all of hockey. But in this throwback-happy era, it was inevitable. The Toledo Storm will be resurrected. Even if for only a weekend.

On Feb. 21 and 22, the ECHL's Toledo Walleye will once again wear that dreadful logo on their chest for Hockey Heritage Weekend. Really though, there are some logos that were meant to stay buried. For eternity.

The Walleye obviously don't feel that way. On Monday afternoon, the team posted a photo on Instagram of the specialty jersey set to be worn later this month.

The Storm jerseys will be worn during both games against the Orlando Solar Bears. The game worn sweaters will be auctioned off after the Saturday, February 22 game at a live auction in the Goal Zone. Proceeds will benefit local charities.

Founded in 1991, the Storm won consecutive Kelly Cup championships in 1993 and 1994. They later folded in 2007. The franchise was sold to another group in Toledo where the team returned to action in 2009 as the Walleye — whose gear is now among the best selling in the ECHL.

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RIP: San Francisco Bulls (2012—2014)

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RIP: San Francisco Bulls (2012—2014)

Sophomore ECHL club shuts down midseason

Maybe the Bay Area can only support one pro hockey team at a time. The San Francisco Bulls — ECHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks — ceased operations on Monday after only a season and a half in action.

Flip through the photo slideshow above and it's not difficult to figure out why. All those empty seats aren't good for business. Unfortunately, the club was unable to secure new ownership and that necessitated the shutdown.

During their brief existence, the Bulls brought us one of the most wretched logos in minor league hockey. That abomination was filled with crazy gradients — except, of course, when it had to be embroidered on the front of a sweater. So I can't say I'll miss this team all that much.

There is one thing they got right, though. Last season, the Bulls skated in San Jose Sharks throwback jerseys. A lot of us miss those so it was nice to see them in action one more time. Although they did their best to wreck it with those gradients in the crest.

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