BLOOMINGTON — When Jason Christie was hired in a scramble a year ago to be head coach of the Bloomington PrairieThunder, he had precious little time to assemble a competitive roster.
Hired as bench boss last week for Bloomington’s new Central Hockey League entry — the Bloomington Blaze — Christie has more time to assemble the roster for the start of the season that is three months from today.
Though ahead of last year’s schedule, the Blaze is one of just two CHL teams that has not announced a player signing this summer. Tulsa is the other.
Meanwhile, Evansville has signed 11 and Fort Wayne 10. Every other team has announced at least three.
The Blaze’s makeup could end up looking a lot like last season’s team as Christie is seeking another blue-collar, gritty gang.
Christie said he hopes to announce a couple of signings next week, with forwards Brodie Sheahan and Jason Dale and goaltender Marco Emond — all former PrairieThunder players — high on his list.
“We want the same hunger, the same energy to make sure we give ourselves a chance to win every night like we had last year,” Christie said.
Christie has shown to be more interested in younger players looking to springboard to higher levels, instead of established Double-A level veterans.
“We want guys who have a goal of playing in the American Hockey League and not necessarily content on playing in Bloomington,” Christie said. “Those are the kinds of guys who are hungry every night.”
Schedule release delayed: Blaze general manager Jim Riggs said the schedule will not be announced this week as hoped and is now planning a release date next week. He said the schedule is mostly set, with 23 Friday and Saturday home dates. There are just four Sunday home games, all after mid-January.
The PrairieThunder’s attendance dropped dramatically last season for Sunday home games when it conflicted with the National Football League.
Holmberg retires: Former PrairieThunder forward Brett Holmberg, 26, has retired from hockey and taken a job on the oil rigs in his native Alberta, Canada. He spent his entire four-year pro career with the PrairieThunder and compiled 79 goals and 96 assists in 282 games.