UPDATE: Civic center board ices USHL, chooses CHL
Discussion about which league to pick turns contentious.
By Scott Aust, Journal staff
But there is a difference in the type of play, Davis said. The USHL is much younger and has players who may have more energy and enthusiasm. However, the CHL has more mature, professional players who are physically and emotionally at a different level of hockey.
But the fact that the CHL has an ownership group ready and the USHL doesn’t tilted his choice toward the CHL, Davis said.
“If I was asked to vote, I would vote for the CHL because there’s a program in place and the USHL may have as strong a program, but they’re behind the 8-ball,” he said.
Mayor Jim Shaw strongly advocated for the CHL because of its professional caliber compared with the USHL, which he called “high school” hockey.
“I think the USHL is a fine program. ... I don’t mean this disparagingly, but high school hockey is high school hockey. They may be super players, but it’s still high school players attempting to move on to a Division I university system and then perhaps work their way up to the CHL or NHL.”
“It’s a couple of steps below the NHL, but it’s a couple of steps above the USHL,” Shaw said.
Matt Fitting, a local citizen, said referring to the USHL as a high school league is not entirely accurate. He said it is an amateur league that includes players who are also young college-age students.
“The quality of hockey is definitely not two steps below the CHL. The USHL is a phenomenal group of hockey players, and it’s exciting, fast-paced hockey,” Fitting said. “We’ve had pro teams in the past and none are still here. Some made it for awhile, some left for different reasons, but we haven’t had one that stayed for the long term. An amateur team might do better.”
Dan Petereit, a local physician, said he also preferred the USHL because he felt it would have a better chance of sustainability with players on their way up. However, he said he would support either league.
“I don’t think the CHL is a bad choice. I just think USHL would be a better choice when it comes to overall impact on this community and sustainability,” he said.
As discussion continued, Shaw argued with the USHL supporters, calling some of their points about the benefits of rivalries with nearby franchises and the support the community shows other youth sports like Post 22 baseball “silly” and “absurd.”
The discussion grew so intense that board chair Mike Diedrich finally stopped the debate.
Steve Nolan, a local attorney, said a local ownership group was being put together for the USHL but got started late after mistakenly assuming the USHL already had an ownership group in place. Nolan hoped the board would delay its decision for a couple weeks so the group could make a presentation but said either league would provide good hockey.
“We’re not here against the CHL. If that’s the decision made, we will be season ticket holders of the CHL. They will be involved in the community, too. I didn’t expect to come here today and get into a debate or an argument,” Nolan said.
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