Hockey Chops 04/14/2009Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: ahl hockey, alex kyrias, anaheim ducks, bobby ryan, dallas stars, iowa chops, iowa hockey, schlagel sports, steve nitzel
The Iowa Chops ended their season Sunday. The Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate finished 33-33-4-10. Sunday’s
crowd of 12,136 set a new record for a game in Des Moines. That means that the 3 largest single game crowds in franchise history assembled during this season. The season per game average of 4,322 was a significant increase over the average of 3,789 last season. The Chops had several successful fund raisers this season, including pink ice and pink trimmed Jerseys for Susan Komen breast cancer foundation in Februry and yellow ice and Jerseys for Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong and Mercy Hospital cancer center here in Des Moines Sunday. And the Wendy’s Family Night promotions were well attended all season. These promotions made the hockey experience affordable and enjoyable for families.
This was the first year that the Ducks had an association here in Des Moines. New President Steve Nitzel, VP Alex Kyrias along with the front office staff are all to be commended. They walked into a situation where attendance was falling and the season ticket base was on shaky ground. Many, if not most,
of the current season ticket holders felt unappreciated and ignored by the management at the time. The wholesale changes made after the Dallas Stars ended their affiliation here made this season much more enjoyable from the fan’s perspective. The quality of action on the ice and the interaction off of it has been reflected in the rise in attendance and bodes well for the future of hockey in Des Moines. In addition, the support of the Chops for junior hockey here has helped to publicize that program, and raise money for it’s support. To be fair, I am not sure if the Stars had the same level of association with the Des Moines hockey community or not. They surely did little to raise awareness if they were involved.
Majority owner Schlagel Sports surely will be looking for bigger things next season, and a return to the playoffs after a two year absence would be nice, but the franchise foundation appears more solid than it did at the end of last season. If hockey is here for the long haul there needs to be more crowds of over 10,000. Before February, 2009 there were none in franchise history. Within the past 2 months there were two with a third just shy of the mark. The previous high was under nine thousand back in 2006. Central Iowa hockey fans hope that trend continues.