Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dayton Gems (CHL, 2011-12)

2011-12 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown
     The Dayton Gems were members of the Central Hockey League (CHL). They joined the CHL in 2010 when that league merged with the International Hockey League. The Gems played their home games at Hara Arena, a 5,500-seat arena in nearby Trotwood.
      Brian Gratz returned as head coach for the Gems that season. However, 2011-12 was not as good as last year, as the Gems dropped to 23-29-7-7. Their 60 points were good enough for sixth place in the CHL's Turner Division, 22 points behind Quad City for the last playoff berth. Attendance increased slightly from 2010-11, as the Gems drew 2,228 per game, the lowest average in the CHL.
     The Gems struggled both on offense and defense that season, scoring only 185 while allowing 228, both near the bottom of the league. Damian Surma led the team in scoring, with 31 goals and 65 points. Former Port Huron Icehawk Larry Sterling led the team in goaltending, with a 12-14-5 record, a 2.92 GAA and one shutout. The Gems used four other netminders that season.
     The Gems were miles out of the playoff picture in 2011-12. Fellow IHL alum Fort Wayne won the Miron Cup championship by beating the Wichita Thunder.
     Decent program for the Gems that season. It's 33 pages, all in color and on glossy paper. The team had a promotion at every game, from retro jerseys to Angry Birds plushes. Each player had a color picture with their stats. Local advertisements include Super Subby's, Cassano's Pizza and Buckminn's D&D Harley-Davidson.

Aftermath: The Gems suspended operations after this season, due to low attendance. They were replaced by the Dayton Demonz of the Federal Hockey League (FHL). Despite winning the FHL championship in their first season, attendance dropped significantly, leading to the Demonz folding after three years. They were replaced by the the FHL's Dayton Demolition, who promptly folded after the 2015-16 season. Hara Arena, the long time home of minor-pro hockey and concerts in the Dayton area, had by then was falling apart and losing millions and closed shortly after the Demolition folded. 

Central Hockey League Statistics: 2011-12 (from

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