Central Hockey League commissioner Duane Lewis is well aware of the rumors surrounding his league.
He’s seen the reports that Fort Wayne and Evansville could leave for the ECHL, the message-board posts that suggest Dayton won’t make it, the columns that say the CHL, which celebrated its 20th season this year, won’t have a 21st.
He also is well aware that many rumors are nothing more than that.
“Everybody’s got a different motive for starting a rumor, and sometimes they take on a life of their own,” Lewis said. “We know there are a couple of teams that have the ability to look in another direction, and that’s fine.
“But we’re looking at a possibility of one or two expansion teams for next year. It’s a lot more stable than people might give us credit for.”
Lewis did not comment on possible locations for new teams, but the Denver Post has reported that a new minor-league team could be announced in the Mile High City this month. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette has speculated that St. Charles, Mo., also is on the CHL’s radar.
“I don’t want to start rumors, but I think you will see changes,” Lewis said. “We’re doing market research in cities and looking at what pieces are possibly out there. We’re looking at the buildings and whether or not it fits in the geographic region.”
Currently, the CHL stretches from Ohio to Arizona, making both Colorado and Missouri workable geographic fits for the league.
At the other end of the spectrum, Lewis said some of the rumors about teams leaving the league have been dismissed out of hand. The reason is because he knows that such a move would be impossible because of rules or circumstances applying to the team in question.
One such example is Rio Grande Valley, which has been rumored to be dropping to a junior league after this season. However, according to The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, the Killer Bees’ arena lease forbids junior hockey, which would leave a hypothetical junior RGV team with no place to play.
On the other hand, Lewis knows the possibility of the Komets and IceMen leaving is a very real one, because those teams are at the end of the agreement between the CHL and IHL, which also covers the Mallards. At the end of this season, Q-C, Fort Wayne, Evansville and Dayton all have the option to leave the CHL with no penalty.
“We know there’s a chance for people to look elsewhere,” Lewis said. “Bloomington (which used to be an IHL franchise as the PrairieThunder) is already under one of our full agreements, and hopefully several more are soon.
“I’m surprised that they’re even going to need to look to another place, but I understand that that is human nature to look out for the best interest of your particular franchise. I think it’s something that will go on for a while, but in a couple areas, that remains to be seen.”
Lewis is hopeful that all 14 of the league’s clubs will return for the CHL’s 21st season, including the Mallards. He has had several conversations with owners Club 9 Sports, and he is confident that the team has a brighter future than some might believe.
“It’s nice to see a team on the uptick, and they’ve been going in that direction, which excites us,” Lewis said. “We want it to go smoother and they want it to go smoother, but it’s going in a positive direction based on what we’ve seen so far.”
Lewis believes the same is true of the CHL’s future.
“Time will tell how this all works out (with the league),” he said. “In a few months, we’ll know a lot more. But from the CHL side, we feel a lot more confident than what people may think from what they may be reading elsewhere.”
Inside the team
* With a torrid February, Eric Giosa has moved into third in the league in scoring, giving the Mallards two of the top three point-getters in the CHL.
Giosa has nine points in his past five games, including a four-point outburst in Saturday's win over Arizona. Since Jan. 27, Giosa has scored nine goals in 12 games, giving him 26 for the year and putting him third in the league in goals.
Teammate Brandon Marino is second in the CHL in both categories.
* While Giosa has been the Mallards' hottest scorer, his linemates - Jared Brown and John Snowden - have been pretty adept at lighting the lamp.
The trio has a combined 35 points in February, with Brown and Giosa each leading the way with 12 points. The last game in which all three failed to score was a 4-1 loss to Fort Wayne on Jan. 22.
* Goaltender David McKee showed no signs of rust in playing all three of the Mallards' most recent games, picking up wins in two despite having played only sparingly in 2012.
McKee's run began Tuesday with starter David Brown taking the week off for bereavement. He allowed seven goals in three games, earning wins over Rapid City and Arizona. Ironically, his best performance might have come in defeat, a 2-1 loss to Berry Conference leader Wichita.
Around the league
* Strength on the road has been the main reason the Evansville IceMen have shot to the top of the Turner Conference standings, as the IceMen recently swept a four-game road swing through Oklahoma and Texas.
The IceMen have won all five road games they have played in February and had won six straight overall entering Wednesday night's home game against Arizona. Evansville's 15-6-3 mark on the road is the best in the Turner Conference.
* Texas rookie goaltender Mark Guggenberger took the league by storm last week by victimizing three opponents on a shutout streak that nearly spanned four full games.
Guggenberger posted shutouts of Allen, Dayton and Rio Grande Valley before finally conceding a goal to the Killer Bees on Saturday, ending a streak that at 238 minutes, 31 seconds began with a win over Laredo.
Guggenberger has won his past six starts for the Brahmas, who have ridden his performance to a solid third place in the Berry Conference.
* When the game is on the line, opponents would be wise to keep the puck off the stick of Wichita's Matt Robinson.
Robinson leads the league in game-winning goals with seven and had three last week, notching the deciding goal in all of Wichita's victories, including a 2-1 win over the Mallards on Feb. 16.
Next three games
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When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City, S.D.
Keep an eye on: Shawn Limpright has scored in 13 of his past 14 games, with six being multi-point nights.
Fast fact: This two-game swing is the Mallards' first and only trip to Rapid City this season.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City, S.D.
Keep an eye on: Konrad Reeder has scored eight points in his past four games for the Rush.
Fast fact: The Mallards are 3-1-0 against the Rush, with all three wins coming by the same 3-2 final score.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: i wireless Center
Keep an eye on: Chris Auger leads Fort Wayne in goals (20) and is among 10 Komets with a double-digit positive plus/minus rating.
Fast fact: This will be the Mallards' seventh meeting of the year with the Komets, with Q-C sporting a 1-5-0 record against Fort Wayne.