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Realignment in the Midwest

Take your eye off minor league hockey in North America for a month, and it appears as if a shift in the time-space continuum has occurred.

The United Hockey League, once formed as the Colonial Hockey League to catch the fall of International Hockey League clubs who were not keeping up with its growth across the continent, has re-formed as the International Hockey League. The new IHL moves its office from Lake St Louis in Missouri to the Detroit suburb of Rochester, Michigan.

After a few years of failed geographic expansion - ironic considering the origins of its formation - the league has tended more recently towards consolidating its footprint to the Great Lakes region of the American Midwest.

Its two western outposts, three-time Colonial Cup champions Quad City Mallards and the reigning champions Rockford IceHogs, will no longer take part, and effectively move into the AHL. Quad City will now be a Calgary Flames affiliate, using the same nickname as their NHL partner. Rockford have purchased the dormant Cincinnati MightyDucks franchise and the IceHogs name and will enter the AHL with the same identity as their UHL predecessor. The two Illinois clubs will enjoy local rivalries with Chicago Wolves, Iowa Stars and the Peoria Rivermen in the Western Conference's West division.

Two time Colonial Cup finalists, Elmira Jackals, somewhat stranded out on the east coast in New York state, have moved into the ECHL, while the somewhat jinxed Chicago Hounds UHL franchise ceases operations after a single, failed year.

The remaining six IHL teams, four of which are based in Michigan, held a dispersal draft for the rosters of the four departing franchises. Latvian Sergei Durdin was taken in the first round by Fort Wayne, having scored a career high 43 points for Quad City last season.

Story added on 7th August 2007 at 14:34 GMT
Story submitted by: Mike Ewer.

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