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A New Season & A New Era for the

By Jessie Hellman

With a new Evansville Icemen hockey season beginning Oct. 19 comes many changes on and off the ice.

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irector of Corporate Development for the Icemen, Brian Vaal said one of the changes that will be most noticeable is the new voice of the Icemen, 96.9 radio personality Derick Benigni. “You’re going to have a great announcer in him,” Vaal said. “He comes to us with a background already. He’s done a lot of local play-by-play broadcasting, and he was with us for two years in the All-American Hockey League days.” Benigni replaces Terry Ficorelli, who was with the IceMen for three years. Vaal said the organization was just looking for a new voice. “[Derick] is going to be less stats and more stories,” Vaal said. “He’s going to come up with the stuff fans want to hear and really try to talk about the relationship side of the hockey business. “ IceMen Live, an in-person radio show that’s hosted at Backstage Bar & Grill and Beef O’ Brady’s in Newburgh, is being revamped. The popular show used to be hosted by Ficorelli at Show Me’s East. Other changes are in the works to engage fans more than previously, Vaal said. “We’re going to have more opportunities for fans to get on the ice and be part of the season.” Changes will include more in-game entertainment. TicTac-Toe games, adult tricycle races, digital puck shuffle and more Jumbotron activities are just a part of the new activities coming this season, he said. One change that may have shocked fans was the firing of former head coach, Rich Kromm, who recently accepted a job coaching the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. The IceMen then hired Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Jeff Pyle, who comes to the organization with much experience. He played for 13 years professionally, three years in college and has coached for 17 years, as well as worked on the sales side of hockey.

12 | October 2013

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Last year’s trying season, where the IceMen’s record was a dismal 25-40-7, will be a hard one to come back from, but returning players are determined, Pyle said. “We’re coming off of a bad year,” Pyle said. “Now it’s either put up or shut up. I think we alleviated some of the negative elements, and we have a good group that’s ready to go in the right direction. Everyone is really hungry for success because of what they’ve been through.” “I want guys that are good people first,” he said. “We know they’re talented, and the things they can do on the ice, but to me, they’re here for a reason. Whether they’re mentally soft or their work ethic isn’t good, my job is to teach them to be professional. Another goal is to move players up to higher opportunities,” he said. “I don’t want guys to sit here all year long,” Pyle said. “I want them to have the opportunity to play in the American Hockey League.” The team has nine games scheduled with their traditional rivals the Ft. Wayne Komets and10 slated with their growing rivals the Cincinnati Cyclones, but Pyle said rival games are played just like any other game. “Every night we have to try to perform at the highest level possible,” he said. “As long as we’re working hard and being prepared, we’re doing our best.” The IceMen start training camp for the 2013-14 regular season on October 4, then have a date with fellow North Division counterpart the Kalamazoo Wings on Opening Night, October 19 at the Ford Center. “I just want it to start. It’s been a long summer,” Pyle said. “I’m excited about the mentality and character we have. I just want to get started, and you can’t do that until you hit the ice.”

For more information, please visit www.evansvilleicemen.com. PHOTO CREDIT FROM EVANSVILLEICEMEN.COM

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The tri-state's ultimate lifestyle guide! With issues that cover Evansville, IN and the surrounding areas with all things local! Read up on...

Webmag 1310  

The tri-state's ultimate lifestyle guide! With issues that cover Evansville, IN and the surrounding areas with all things local! Read up on...

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