Richmond RiverDogs

A brief unofficial history compiled by Pattie Anderson.

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 After the ECHL Richmond Renegades took a voluntary suspension in April 2003 (a suspension based on working out a new arena deal that never happened, ultimately leading to the revocation of the franchise), Richmond briefly had no hockey during the offseason.  However, later that spring, at a press conference, team owner Eric Margenau, UHL commissioner Richard Brosal, and representatives of the city of Richmond and Richmond Coliseum announced that a UHL team would play at the Richmond Coliseum beginning that fall.  

 A name-the-team contest was held that summer, and at another press conference at the Richmond Coliseum, general manager Jeff Croop announced the team name (Richmond RiverDogs), team logo and colors.  

At a press conference at Mulligan's in the Fan, Norris Trophy winner and (then-future) Hall of Famer Rod Langway was introduced as the team's first head coach.  Over the 76-game season, the team finished with a record of 44-27-5.  Alas, the team did not perform well in the playoffs and were upset in the first round by the Elmira Jackals.  

In their sophomore season, former assistant coach Donny Martin took over as head coach.  Former silent owner Glenn Morelli took over as sole owner as the team.  Problems on and off the ice plagued the team, which limped to a disappointing record of 33-42-5, denied a playoff berth. 

 The summer of 2005 brought more changes.  A sale of the team fell through, so the UHL revoked the franchise (which later led to a lawsuit - you can view at the complaint on the original RiverDogs site -- see the link in the left column) and granted another to Eric Margenau and Jay Action.   Jeff Croop was briefly rehired as general manager, later to be replaced by GM/head coach Robbie Nichols.  Nichols originally assembled a team bigger on brawn than on talent, and the team got off to a bad start, losing its first five games.  With some tweaking of the roster, lines and systems, the team began to gel and play better.

On Jan. 11, 2006, comments by co-owner Jay Acton implying that the team would not be back the next season and that Robbie Nichols was not getting the job done as coach infuriated fans and players alike.  That night, the team soundly thrashed the visiting Port Huron Flags 5-1 and beginning a six-game winning streak.  

Things looked grim for the team when the owners pulled Nichols to work on their new team in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.  Nichols' last game behind the RiverDogs bench was a 3-2 home win over Danbury, giving him a record as 20-21-6.  That left Kris Waltze, who had a brief stint as Nichols' assistant after a career-ending shoulder injury in November, and no prior experience as head coach to guide the team.  He began his career the next night with a 3-2 win over Roanoke.  Waltze's final record for the season was a highly respectable 20-9-2.  Also by the end of the season, the front office was running on a skeleton staff of administrative assistant Edward Meek and gamenight operations director Shawn Jones.  Forty different players skated in a RiverDogs uniform over the course of the season.

The team's final record of 40-30-6, third in the UHL's Eastern Division and ninth overall in the 14-team league, meant the team finished one point out of a playoff berth. Richmond was actually tied with the Motor City Mechanics in points and wins, but Motor City held the tiebreaker (head-to-head wins, having won two out of three contests between the two clubs that season).  

Richmond's head-to-head records against other teams in 2005-06:

vs. Adirondack 14 games 1-10-3
vs. Danbury 10 games 6-2-2
vs. Elmira 15 games 10-5-0
vs. Flint 2 games 2-0-0
vs. Fort Wayne 2 games 1-0-1
vs. Kalamazoo 1 game 0-1-0
vs. Missouri 3 games 3-0-0
vs. Motor City 3 games 1-1-1
vs. Muskegon 3 games 1-2-0
vs. Port Huron 2 games 2-0-0
vs. Quad City 1 game 0-1-0
vs. Roanoke 18 games 15-3-0
vs. Rockford 2 games 1-1-0

Mike Oliveira led the team in scoring.  In 76 games, he had 61 goals and 44 assists for 105 points.  Captain Dan Vandermeer led all UHL defensemen in scoring with 90 points (15 goals, 75 points). 

Under terms of the team's contract with the Richmond Coliseum, the owners had until the day of the final home game of the regular season (April 8) to inform the Coliseum whether the team intended to return next season.  April 8 came and went, and after attempts to contact the owners were unsuccessful, on April 20, the Coliseum and City of Richmond jointly announced that they would not renew the RiverDogs contract for 2006-07. 

Although Hoffman Estates was originally announced as an expansion team, the RiverDogs franchise were relocated to Hoffman Estates for the 2006-07 season as the Chicago Hounds.  

A sample of my photos from the 2005-06 season is at the left.  You can find all of my UHL photos on Fotki

Interested in buying any of my photos?  Visit the Fotki site.  Select the photos you wish to purchase, noting the size.  Once you have added all of your desired images to the cart, click on the link at the top of each page for "Cart." You can change the sizes and quantities when you get to the shopping cart, if you like. You can order photos "anonymously" if you are not a Fotki member. Complete the ordering process, then wait for your prints to arrive directly from Fotki.com.  Feel free to contact me (see my email address in the image to the left) if you have any questions.