Welcome to the Central Hockey League the Bloomington Blaze
(Jason Christie named Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations)
“Fire and Ice” is coming to the U.S. Cellular Coliseum this October as the Bloomington Blaze joins the Central Hockey League. And Blaze owners Gary DelBuono and Sandra Hunnewell are proud to announce that 2010-11 CHL Coach of the Year, Jason Christie, has been named the team’s first Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations.
Jason Christie returns for a second season in Bloomington after leading the former PrairieThunder team to regular season record of 37-22-7. The team finished third in the CHL’s Turner Conference, just three points out of first place, and under his leadership, Bloomington qualified for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The team’s 37 wins set a record as the PThunder posted an outstanding home record of 20-10-3. And on March 24, 2011, Jason was named CHL Coach of the Year. As head coach for the ECHL Peoria Rivermen from 2000-01 through 2004-05 and the ECHL Utah Grizzlies from 2005-06 through 2008-09, Christie posted seven winning seasons in eight years and qualified for the ECHL playoffs in six of those eight seasons. His overall coaching record in the ECHL was 307 wins-203 losses-66 overtime losses, making him the sixth winningest coach in the history of the ECHL (dating back to 1988).
This past season, Jason was inducted into the Peoria Rivermen Hockey Hall of Fame.
Among Jason’s other coaching accomplishments include coaching in the ECHL All-Star game in 2001 and again in 2004. He also coached in the AHL All-Star game in 2008. His 217 victories in five seasons in Peoria are the most in Peoria Rivermen history in the IHL-AHL-and ECHL. During his tenure in Peoria, the Rivermen never finished lower than third place during the regular season. And with the Utah Grizzlies during the 2007-08 season, Jason led Utah to the conference finals. And in 2008-09 and again in 2009-10, he served as an Assistant Coach for the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League.
As a player, Christie was a hard working right wing who played for nine seasons in the ECHL, AHL, and IHL in Columbus, Ohio; Hamilton, Ontario; Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Maine; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and in Peoria. A highlight of his playing career came in Peoria during the 1999-00 season where he helped the Rivermen win the ECHL Championship as a player / assistant coach. Jason scored 21 goals-35 assists-56 points and was named the Co-MVP of the ECHL Playoffs that year.
Another side to Jason Christie is his strong commitment to community involvement. During his 2007-08 season in Utah, the Grizzlies set franchise records in several community areas. The team made 220 appearances in the community, including over 80 elementary school visits. The Grizzlies also were involved with over 400 non-profit groups during Jason’s time with the organization.
“We’re very excited to have Jason Christie on board for the Blaze inaugural season,” said team owners Gary DelBuono and Sandra Hunnewell in a joint statement. “His successful coaching record speaks for itself and we look for great things as the Bloomington Blaze competes in the CHL’s Turner Conference against some of the league’s top teams. We also hope the sports fans of the Bloomington-Normal area will embrace our new name. We think you’ll love the team’s new logo.” The Bloomington Blaze logo is expected to be unveiled next week and the team’s website (currently under construction) will be www.bloomingtonblaze.com .
Jason Christie, along with his wife, Kelley, and their two sons Jaxon and J.D, live in Bloomington.