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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2005

Storm owner gets a reprieve

BY DAN SAEVIG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Gladieux Gladieux
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Storm majority owner Tim Gladieux got the reprieve he was looking for yesterday when the ECHL s board of governors tabled until May 2 its discussion on Toledo s request to suspend operations for the 2005-06 season.

The new date which was established during an afternoon conference call regarding the Storm s situation and other league business follows the scheduled May 1 release of an arena feasibility study being conducted on behalf of Pizzuti Cos., of Columbus, for the City of Toledo.

Gladieux has had discussions with Mud Hens officials about the nonprofit organization taking over his franchise, which announced March 30 that it was seeking to sit out next season because of financial losses resulting from a dwindling season-ticket base that now numbers approximately 750.

That figure is half of what team officials say is needed for the franchise to break even in the 58-year-old Sports Arena which Gladieux also owns.

Mud Hens general manager Joe Napoli has said that a new facility would be key for his organization to assume ownership of the hockey team, adding that results of the arena study would provide guidance to the board of directors of his International League team whether to proceed with a deal.

Gladieux said he is also involved in discussions with prospective partners, owners and lessees of the franchise.

This gives us time to follow up on some of these potential investors and the Mud Hens, Gladieux said. The league is very interested in maintaining the Storm in Toledo and they ve given us the time to also generate support from the business community and potential season-ticket holders.

Gladieux said the Storm would shortly undertake an aggressive season-ticket campaign with the goal of at least doubling its existing base before May 2.

It s critical now that progress be made in terms of hockey fans stepping up and showing support for the team, ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna said.

It s important for next year and in the longer term it s going to speak volumes to civic leaders and businessmen to see what sort of support there is for hockey, to know that there s a renewed vigor to move forward on [a new facility].

Storm vice president and general manager Mike Miller said the team has sold roughly 130 new season tickets in the last four to five days. He said the response has come from local businesses, unions and former season-ticket holders that the front office has begun calling.

The positive thing is, the community has told us that they want hockey to stay, Miller said. Nobody has told us to go jump in the Maumee River.

Asked if he thought there would be an ECHL team on the ice in Toledo next season, Mc-Kenna said: We wouldn t have given the extra time if we didn t think it was a realistic possibility. That being said, there s an awful lot that has to be done in the next two weeks, but we re hopeful.

Make no mistake, the ECHL wants to stay in Toledo long term.

Contact Dan Saevig at:dsaevig@theblade.com.

• When: Tomorrow at Reading, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday at Reading, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday vs. Reading at Sports Arena, 6:05 p.m.

Tuesday vs. Reading at Sports Arena, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)

Wednesday at Reading, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)

• Radio: 97.3, tomorrow; 1230, Saturday and Sunday

• Television: BCSN, Sunday

• Storm: Toledo (41-26-5, fourth ECHL North) qualifi ed for postseason play for the 11th time in the franchise s 14-year history.

The 41 wins are the fifth most ever, tying the 1994-95 and 1997-98 squads. G Scott Fankhouser set a franchise mark for goals-against average in a season (2.34) and along with G Logan Koopmans was the main reason Toledo set a single-season

record by allowing only 194 goals. The previous mark of 196

was set in 2002-03. The pair also combined for a franchise

record six shutouts. The previous benchmark of fi ve was set

in 1996-97 by David Goverde. . . . Toledo was 3-6-0 versus Reading

this season, including 1-4-0 in Pennsylvania. . . . The Storm s

collective plus/minus against Reading this season was -55,

while the Royals were +54. . . . Toledo was outscored by Reading,

28-17. . . . F Scooter Smith was the Storm s top scorer against the Royals, with six assists in seven starts. . . . C Carl Mallette finished tied for second in ECHL scoring with 30 goals and 50 assists in 64 games. . . . The Storm set a franchise record by allowing only 41 power-play goals, besting by seven the previous mark set during 1997-98.

• Royals: Reading (43-22-7, first ECHL North), which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season, set team records this season for wins (43), points (93), consecutive wins (9) and road wins (18) while tying the record for home wins (25) and

consecutive home wins (6). . . . G Barry Brust fi nished second in

the ECHL with a goals-against average of 1.96 and went 5-1-1

with a 1.42GAA and .942SVP against Toledo. . . . RW Cail MacLean

tied for the league lead in power-play goals (15), two of which came against the Storm. . . . Aside from MacLean, who had three goals and four assists in seven games versus Toledo, four of Reading s top fi ve scorers against the Storm this season are centers. Graig Mischler had three goals and eight assists in fi ve games, Eric Fortier

had four goals and four assists in nine starts, Mike Sandbeck

had three goals and two assists in six games and Preston Mizzi

had two goals and three assists in eight outings. . . . Reading s

power-play ranked seventh in the league (18.3 percent), nine

spots ahead of Toledo (16.1). The Storm s penalty kill was

better seventh overall at 86.1 percent compared to Reading;

12th overall at 84.0. . . . The Royals led the ECHL in shorthanded

goals (16). Toledo tied Bakersfield for second (14).



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