By Paul Morello
BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington Blaze are getting ready to open their second season in the Central Hockey League.
The Blaze open the 2012-13 campaign Friday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum for the first of two games against the Rapid City Rush.
New Blaze coach Brian Gratz will take the helm this year, and said Thursday his team might be a bit "chippy" this year.
"We want to make sure we have a physical team that's going to work hard every night, that's going to stick up for themselves and their teammates. I think we have some good puck-moving defensemen who are all pretty much oak trees back on the blue line," he said.
The Blaze start the season with a five-game homestand, hosting Wichita for two games next weekend, before facing the Mallards at home Nov. 2.
Gratz thinks the NHL lockout could help minor league hockey this year.
"Pretty much every coach in the league is wondering what our league is going to be about. We know it's going to be better, but how much better? Is it going to be just a little better than last year, or so much better that everyone will have to adapt a bit," he said.
All games at the Coliseum start at 7:05 p.m.
Listen to games this season on WJBC.com.
Paul Morello can be reached at email@example.com.