Fresh off a positive weekend in Chicago, the Rochester Ice Hawks received more good news this week.
For the first time this season, the Ice Hawks will be at "home." The Rochester Recreation Center has undergone major renovations over the last year. And those renovations took much longer than expected, forcing the Ice Hawks to play their first home games at Graham Arena.
"There's still plenty of construction going on, and we're probably another week away from having our locker room completely done, but we're pumped to finally get to play back at the Rec Center," Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis said.
"Fans and players will still notice some work being done, but it's close, and close enough that we can finally play over there. We must give a big thanks to Bob Montrose and everyone at Graham for bailing us out with renovations being delayed. Bob and his staff were phenomenal, and we were treated so well by everyone over there."
The Ice Hawks face a familiar foe at 7:05 Saturday night at the Rec Center — the Minnesota Flying Aces.
The Flying Aces are in their fifth season in the North American Tier 3 Hockey League, but prior to joining the NA3HL, the Flying Aces were members of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League.
The Flying Aces are off to a slow start at 1-4-1 in the NA3HL's West Division. Jace Cseter is the team's top player with seven points through six games.
Dominik Bogdzuil and Nick Paulson are tied for the Ice Hawks team lead in points with 11. Jiri Trubacik leads the team with six goals in seven games player.
The Ice Hawks still are dealing with myriad injuries, particularly on the blue line.
Former Dodge County player Sam Bjellum returned to the lineup during the Chicago series following his injury, and John Zwarych is expected to return this weekend.
"We are very excited to have John back; we are really struggling for depth, and he's going to help out a lot," Fatis said.
Rochester defenseman Dylan Boysen remains out due to injury, and Trey McMillen is out this week due to suspension. McMillen is eligible to return Oct. 30.
The Ice Hawks released forward Jake Patenaude, who appeared in one game for the Ice Hawks. The Ice Hawks also traded forward Ethan Smith to the Euliss (Dallas) Jr. Stars in return for a tender and future considerations.
Forward Jon Roth of Alaska joined the Ice Hawks recently thanks to a trade with the Alexandria Blizzard. The Ice Hawks secured Roth's services for a third-round draft pick in the 2016 draft. Roth is a 5-foot-10, 160-pound forward. He skated in all three games over the weekend and scored a goal and two assists.
"We expect to make a few more moves in the very near future, probably early next week, as we continue to try to add depth and just get the right mix of players in the locker room," Fatis said. "We feel like we are pointed in the right direction. We have a long way to go, but we are getting closer to where we want to be."
Ben Pherson covers the Rochester Ice Hawks for the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @pb_phersy