Excitement continues to grow and abound as Evansville and the Tri-State look forward with anxious anticipation to the opening of the all-new, brand-new state-of-the-art Downtown Evansville Arena in time for the upcoming 2011-12 season. For the Evansville IceMen of the Central Hockey League, the task at immediate hand is the continued construction of their team player roster as they seek a more contending status for the approaching campaign.
On this date, the IceMen General Manager / Head Coach Rich Kromm has announced that 2010-11 Team MVP BRIAN BICEK has assented to terms and affixed his signature on a new one year contract with Evansville for the 2011-12 season. Adhering to club policy, terms of the contract deal were not disclosed.
BICEK (BYE-seck), 25, is set to embark on his fourth pro season overall and his second full campaign clad in the colors of Evansville pro hockey. The diminutive, dynamic, bedazzling center returns to the IceMen following his best-ever season in the professional ranks in his initial season with the IceMen last season.
Affectionately referred to as the “Pocket Rocket,” the 5-9, 175lb swift-skating centerman topped the team in several major offensive key categories for the AA/CHL fledgling franchise in 2010-11 including total goals with 27; SHG with 5 and SOG with 222. “Ice-Bice-Baby” left an indelible impression on the CHL as well being named a lofty #2 in the league for “Fastest Skater” in the annual CHL “Best of the Best” Poll. His 5-SHG also ranked circuit second, comprising one-third of his team’s total of 15-shorthanded strikes. Somewhat overshadowed amidst his manifold of achievements and despite his rather compact stature, the American-bred from the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, IL has been a veritable “Ironman,” especially the past two seasons, not missing a single game in totaling 142-consecutive outings. Last season, in 66-games, he was also Evansville’s second leading scoring virtuoso, collecting 61-points on those 27-goals, 34-assists. Bicek’s total season output included 5-PPG, 18-PP/Points, 4-FG and 3-GWG with one of those produced in a thrilling OT triumph over archrival Fort Wayne.
In the CHL’s annual All-Star Game in Rapid City, SD last January, Bicek had lightning literally and figuratively coming out of his high-tech, high-octane, fuel-injected skates cannonading the natural 3-goal “hat trick” while attaining a brilliant +4 rating.
The 2011-12 campaign will mark the third in succession in which the former Western Michigan U. standout has plied his talents under the auspices of GM/Coach Kromm and “The Kromminator” is looking forward to the Bicek “trifecta” season. “We are certainly thrilled to bring Brian back to the IceMen. He has quickly emerged as a true fan favorite through his exciting style of play. He is an explosive performer who is a fun player to watch. He gives our team great energy; he is a stellar penalty-killer and creates a lot of offense with his sheer speed. In this upcoming season, we are expecting even more production from him and fully expect that he will be one of our top, key players paramount to our overall team success.”
The type of player who brings the fans right out of their seats, “Bice,” last season also was foremost on the IceMen squad in fashioning three 2-goal games as well as a team-best equaling 7-game point streak in which he assembled 13-points on 6-goals, 7-assists.
The latest IceMen signee could not mask his enthusiasm about his second coming to the IceMen. “I am very excited to be back in Evansville with the IceMen. One of the main reasons we came back was due to the excellent team that the organization is putting together for the new season. Winning is the biggest factor for me; we want to bring a championship to Evansville. This is a great community which has been so very supportive of our team. I want to be a part of all of this terrific hockey happening here in Evansville.”
Bicek originally arrived on the Evansville pro hockey scene as a member of the 2009-10 IHL Huber Trophy Championship Muskegon Lumberjacks club. In that latter season, he emerged as a prominent, pre-eminent sparkplug, finishing in the top 20 in the league-wide scoring derby, amassing 55-points in playing all 76-games on 22-goals, 33-assists, 110-PIM and a superb +13 rating. His 6-GWG ranked as fourth most in the IHL as he captured the team’s annual “Mr. Hustle Award.” Highlighting his scoring resume was his flair for the electrifying as he delivered the two fastest goals (:34) and three fastest goals (2:37) in a single game by an individual player for the Lumberjacks.
Evansville’s jet-streaming #10 actually launched his pro career in the CHL in the 2008-09 season with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees where in 57-games, he engineered 37-points on 17-goals, 20-assists. Prior to his collegiate career, he played four years in the highly-touted CCHA collegiate conference at Western Michigan U., in Kalamazoo, MI coming from the NAHL and the Cleveland Barons where he was 56(26-45-71). The IceMen now have 8-players signed for the new season, including defensemen Matt Gens, Jordan Little, Steve Makway, Jake Obermeyer; left wings Mark Cody and Matt Pierce; center Todd Robinson.