AHL heading to Peoria in 2005-06

American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has unanimously approved the transfer of ownership of the Worcester IceCats from the St. Louis Blues to Bruce Saurs and Anne Griffith, and the relocation of the franchise to Peoria, Ill., effective next season.

The Peoria Rivermen will be the top development team for the NHL’s Blues, playing their home games at the 9,919-seat Carver Arena in the Peoria Civic Center.

“On behalf of our other member clubs, I am excited to welcome Bruce Saurs, Anne Griffith and the city of Peoria to the American Hockey League family,” said Andrews. “The St. Louis Blues have a successful history of developing players in the AHL, and the Rivermen will provide a strong new rivalry to our teams in the Midwest.”

There are now 29 teams active for the AHL’s 2005-06 season, during which the league will commemorate its 70th anniversary. In addition to the Rivermen, the AHL will also be welcoming the Iowa Stars next year, starting play at the brand new Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines as the top affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League clubs. The 2004-05 season sees 28 teams competing for the coveted Calder Cup championship, and more than 2.2 million fans have already attended AHL games this year alone.