The Worcester Railers have announced an affiliation for their inaugural season, as the club is the new ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders. The agreement covers the 2017-18 season.
One of the newest members of the ECHL, the Railers are set to begin play at Worcester’s DCU Center this fall. The club was granted membership into the ECHL in January, and the announcement of the affiliation was expected to be one of the biggest developments that would follow.
The Railers announced their partnership with the Islanders on Thursday. “The Worcester Railers are thrilled to become affiliates with a first-class organization in the New York Islanders,” Railers general manager and head coach Jamie Russell said in a statement. “We are looking forward to working closely with the organization to help develop their prospects, while at the same time having the overall goal to win hockey games.”
A major benefit that is expected to come from the partnership is the proximity between the Railers and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the Islanders. Having the two cities be a relatively close distance away from each other should help operations, and it is something that both the Islanders and Railers believe will benefit their organizations. More from The Telegram:
The Islanders’ most recent ECHL affiliation was with the Missouri Mavericks of Independence, hometown of President Harry S Truman. In their two years with the Islanders, the Mavericks — owned by Lamar Hunt Jr. of the Kansas City Chiefs Hunts — compiled an 85-45-14 record.
While the affiliation did well on the ice, geography was an issue, another factor that worked in the Railers’ favor. Worcester is just a couple of hours from Bridgeport by car.
“We loved working with Lamar Hunt,” [Islanders assistant to the general manager Kerry] Gwydir said. “It was a first-class operation in every way.”
Russell said geography was a big consideration in the Railers’ search for an affiliate. Being just a car ride away will allow the Islanders’ player development coaches and officials to work directly with Worcester prospects.
The Railers are scheduled to play their home opener on October 14.