Rockers Sign Jonathan Juliano and Francis Moore to PTO's


As the 2023-24 FPHL season quickly approaches, teams are making moves to fine tune their rosters and the Motor City Rockers are among many that made moves today. The Rockers added two more forwards to their roster ahead of training camp on PTO's, one a familiar returning face and Federal League vet, the other a collegiate player looking to make his professional debut in the Motor City.   

I'll start with the name most Rockers fans will know as Jonathan Juliano has returned to the active roster. And yes it's Jonathan, not sure why the FPHL site continues to misspell his first name as Jonathon, but it does. Juliano is one of the all-time veterans of the Federal League, having skated in 323 career games for seven franchises. The bulk of his time came in the old FHL days with the now defunct Danville Dashers, but he also spent time in Watertown, Dayton, Danbury and the debacle that was the St. Clair Shores Fighting Saints. From 2017-2020 he played in 83 games with Motor City's top rival, the Port Huron Prowlers. After a couple of years out of the league, he returned to pro hockey last year with the expansion Rockers, a perfect fit for the Clinton Township native. Juliano skated in 26 games for the Rockers, scoring seven goals and adding eleven assists for eighteen points. He then stepped off the ice and into an assistant coaching role on the team so I was a bit surprised to see him return as a player, but he will fit right in if he's on the opening night roster. Juliano has always been able to put up big seasons in the Fed, and even with him turning 37 in November, that veteran skill and experience should help add punch to the Motor City offense.           

As for the new addition, Francis Moore comes to the Motor City after having spent four years in the ACHA with Robert Morris University/Roosevelt University (the schools merged in 2020). Moore, who also goes by Frankie, was the team's captain the last two seasons after Roosevelt University acquired Robert Morris, and really filled the stat sheet in his final season with the Lakers last year. In 29 games, the Richfield, Minnesota native buried 19 goals and added 17 assists for 36 points, by far his best season. Now the 26 year old looks to continue his career at the professional level with the Rockers. 

Juliano and Moore join a crowded group of forwards trying to make the Motor City roster as there are now twenty officially listed. Keep in mind, what you see on the FPHL site for current team rosters will change quite a bit in some cases by puck drop on opening night. Players will try out for higher leagues, with some potentially sticking. Other players not even listed on an FPHL roster yet will filter down to the Fed after being released from ECHL or SPHL camps. Some players whose rights are owned by the Rockers will not play this season for various reasons and have to eventually be released. As I look at the current Motor City roster, Dylan Johnson has signed in the SPHL and Tommy Cardinal in the LNAH so those are just two examples of how the current rosters of each team are nowhere near set in stone. Things will change, guaranteed. 

Rockers Acquire Charlie Bedard in Delaware Dispersal Draft

Welcome to The Rock Show Bedard

The FPHL held a dispersal draft today for players on the now dormant Delaware Thunder franchise. In total, eighteen players were dispersed among the eleven teams that will make up the 2023-24 Federal Prospects Hockey League. That means another new addition is in the mix for the Motor City Rockers.

The Rockers only took one player in the draft, and that is 24 year old defenseman Charlie Bedard. After playing two years of NCAA Division III hockey at Morrisville State College, the Southampton, New York native went pro in the 2021-22 season with the Thunder, playing in 19 games, scoring three goals and adding five assists. Last season, Bedard started the year in the SPHL with the Vermilion County Bobcats, playing in 28 games with one goal and two assists. But the Bobcats organization was doomed under bad ownership and folded during the season, which brought Bedard back to Delaware to finish out the season playing in 14 games with the Thunder, scoring four times and adding two assists. 

At 6'2", 183 lbs. Bedard will add more size to the Motor City blueline should he make the opening night roster. Welcome to The Rock Show Charlie.


Rockers Announce 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

2023-2024 Regular Season Schedule

The Federal Prospects Hockey League officially announced its schedule for the 2023-24 regular season today. The FPHL will enter its fourteenth season with eleven teams after the Delaware Thunder chose to go dormant instead of relocating to New Jersey as had been rumored. That sent the schedule into a bit of flux at the last minute but it is now finalized. Once again, each team will play 56 games, 28 each at home and on the road.

For the Motor City Rockers, that means the franchise's second season is set to take off in late October. After opening at home last season, the Rockers open on the road this season but it's against their closest rival, the Port Huron Prowlers. For a less than an hour drive up I-94, Rockers fans can still check out their team as the puck drops on a new season. And they better get used to seeing a lot of Port Huron again, as the two teams will play each other a whopping eighteen times, eight in Fraser and ten in Port Huron. After the two game set at McMorran Arena, the Rockers return to Fraser for their home opening weekend at Big Boy Arena October 27th and 28th against the new Wytheville, Virginia franchise. Rockers fans had better savor those two games however, as Motor City plays twelve of their first fifteen games on the road, including an eight game road trip from 11/22 to 12/8. That script gets reversed in February though, when Motor City has a nine game home stand starting 2/17 through 3/10. In fact, overall they play eleven of twelve at home during this stretch with the lone road game in nearby Port Huron. This should be a crucial stretch of the season for playoff positioning and Motor City will be at home for over a month, something they must capitalize on. 

Judging from fan comments on Facebook and Instagram, there are a lot of FPHL fans across the league unhappy with the schedule this season. In fact, Port Huron will be the only team that faces every other team in the league at least once. In the case of the Rockers, Motor City does not play a single game all season against the new expansion team in Baton Rouge, or the Mississippi Sea Wolves. That's a shame as the Rockers and Sea Wolves had developed a little bit of a rivalry by season's end. More frustrating to me, the defending Commissioner's Cup Champion Danbury Hat Tricks don't make a single trip to Fraser this season, although the Rockers go there for two games at the start of December. In fact, Danbury never sets foot in Michigan all season as Port Huron has to travel there twice, but never hosts them once. I completely understand the league trying to cut down on travel budgets, the last thing I want to see is a team unable to continue to operate due to prohibitive travel costs. But as a fan, it stinks that three of the other ten teams in the league will never skate a second in Big Boy Arena this season. This is not a Motor City problem, let me make that clear. Every fan base in the league is commenting on what they will miss this season, some with more vitriol than others. For me, I get it, it won't affect my attendance at games or support of the team, but I don't have to be thrilled about not seeing nearly a third of the opposing teams in the league all season.

As for who Motor City will be playing, here is how things shake out. As mentioned, Rockers fans will get to see their biggest rivals Port Huron eight times in Fraser. Surprisingly, the other team that plays here eight times will be the expansion Wytheville franchise, while Motor City only has to travel there once for a set of games in January. The Columbus River Dragons make the trek to metro Detroit to play four games against the Rockers, while Motor City plays three down in Georgia. The Binghamton Black Bears play here three times, while the Rockers play two games there. The new Elmira team is in Fraser for a pair of games right before Christmas, while Motor City plays there four times. The two times Motor City hosts the Watertown Wolves in March could be of interest to fans of former Rocker goalie Travis Ridgen as he was acquired by the Wolves via trade this past week. Keep in mind, March is a long way off and Ridgen still has to earn his spot on the Watertown roster, but definitely something to keep an eye out for if he does. The Rockers meanwhile will play five games in Watertown. December 15th will be another notable date as it is the only time Motor City plays the defending Continental Division Champion Carolina Thunderbirds all season, with this lone match coming in Fraser.       

The Rockers will once again host Port Huron on New Year's Eve at Big Boy Arena, with a 2:05pm faceoff set. This was one of the best attended games of last season, so definitely one to look forward to this season. All of Motor City's home games this year will take place on the weekend, with eleven Friday night games, twelve Saturday games and five Sunday afternoon contests. Weeknight games are a tough draw and they had a few last season so I'm glad to see the weekend-heavy schedule for 23-24. Despite some of the issues with the league's schedule, I guarantee you once the season rolls around and the action starts again, most of that will be forgotten when we have games and rivalries to debate.   

You can view the complete schedule on the Motor City Rockers website here.               

Rockers Lose Three in FPHL Expansion Draft

Rockers Expansion Draft

The Federal Prospects Hockey League held an expansion draft today for the two new franchises coming in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Wytheville, Virginia. Neither team has a name yet, but each now holds the FPHL rights to twelve players after today's draft. The Motor City Rockers had three players selected from the pool that were left unprotected, with all three selected by the Wytheville franchise.

Defensman Nick Papandrea, a Chesterfield Township native, came home to join the Rockers late in the season in March but only saw action in five games, going scoreless in those games. The Rockers were his fourth Federal League stop last season after stints in Carolina, Elmira and Watertown. He has also seen action in forty SPHL games over the last two seasons so he could be a solid addition to Wytheville's blueline if he chooses to sign there.

Cody Oakes joined Motor City in late December after opening the season in Carolina. He played in eighteen games for the Rockers, scoring one goal and adding seven assists. He can play both forward and defense so his versatility had to be attractive to the new Virginia-based squad.    

Travis Ridgen might be finally getting what he has been asking for, a chance to play meaningful minutes as a professional goalie. The You-Tuber/podcaster/goaltender only played 44 minutes for the Rockers last season as the third goalie on the roster, before his season ended with a knee injury late in 2022. He did win a game for Motor City, replacing Trevor Babin early in Watertown back in October after Babin was tossed from the game for fighting. But it was also a wild 7-6 win, not exactly a goaltending clinic. I wish Ridgen all the luck in the world, I enjoy his podcast, he's self-deprecating enough, but when you look at who else Wytheville drafted, it may still be a tough road for Trav. Port Huron's Ian Wallace was selected, as was Columbus' Christian Pavlas, and if either or both of them sign in Virginia, they are ahead of Ridgen on the depth chart. If both sign, Ridgen is in trouble as Fed teams are only allowed to carry two goaltenders on their rosters this season. 

The caveat to all of this is that none of these picks mean these players will be playing for these teams. Sure, some will sign, but others may not and choose to become free agents, or look for a spot overseas or in another pro league in North America. Regardless, I don't see any of these three returning to the Rockers. Motor City's braintrust did a tremendous job with their protected list, none of the team's core was eligible for the expansion draft, and some of the stronger players who were unprotected like Mike Winn, Cade Lambdin, Jameson Milam and Blake Scott remain eligible to be brought back to the Motor City. 

This is just the beginning of what will be a busy summer with player moves and signings. Watch this space, as things get announced, I'll have timely updates posted here.

Rockers Announce Scott Brand as Team President


A momentous day for the Motor City Rockers franchise as they have officially announced Scott Brand as their Team President. I've been waiting for this to be made official as there is a lot to say about this hiring and the implications on the long-term success of this franchise in Metro Detroit. For an FPHL franchise looking to build corporate sponsorships and a fan base, you really cannot make a better move than this. Brand has had success everywhere he has been, including building both Carolina, and most recently Columbus, into FPHL hotbeds. With Nick Field continuing on as General Manager and the addition of Brand, if this group cannot build the Rockers into an institution in this area, no one can. As a supporter and fan of the franchise, I can't emphasize enough how huge this is and how excited fans should be about the direction of the Motor City Rockers. 

I will have a lot more to say about not just the Brand hiring, but the outlook for the Rockers to build a diehard fan base that packs Big Boy Arena on a nightly basis in a future post I am planning. But in trying to keep this blog timely with news, I wanted to get this up the same day as the announcement was made. The team's full press release can be seen here. Of note, the team expects to announce ticket plans for the 2023-24 season on June 1st.     

Rockers Prepare for FPHL Expansion Draft, Announce Protected List

Rockers Expansion

The 2022-23 FPHL season has come to an end with the Danbury Hat Tricks being crowned Commissioners Cup champions, after they came back from being down two games to none to defeat the Carolina Thunderbirds in overtime in Game Five. Now all eyes turn to the offseason and in the minor leagues, there is rarely a dull moment. Just because the season is over doesn't mean there still won't be plenty of news, moves and rumors around the FPHL. 

The first order of business will be finalizing what teams will take part in the 2023-24 season, and currently that is in a state of flux. The Delaware Thunder are out, at least in Harrington, where Delaware State Fairgrounds officials have essentially told the team, "we don't want you here", much to the chagrin of their diehard fanbase. More detailed information about the Delaware decision can be found here.  There is also trouble in Elmira, where the Mammoth are now involved in a dispute with the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency, who is in the process of terminating their lease with the franchise to play at First Arena. You can read all about that situation here. If neither of those teams are returning, that drops the number of teams to eight, but what about expansion?

So far, we know Baton Rouge is in, the franchise has officially been announced and is listed as one of next season's teams on the FPHL website. Wytheville, Virginia is also apparently in. They are listed as a future market on the FPHL site, and in a league press release today, the franchise was named as joining the league for this coming season. There are also rumors buzzing that Danville, Illinois could be returning to the Fed after the complete debacle that was the SPHL's Vermilion County Bobcats. Conditions could be right for a return of the Danville Dashers who were in the league from 2011 to the end of the 2019-20 season. But this is still in the rumor stage, nothing has officially been said one way or the other. If Delaware and Elmira are out, the league is back to ten teams next season with the addition of Baton Rouge and Wytheville. Time will tell how this shakes out.

So all this uncertainty leaves the exact date of the upcoming Expansion Draft up in the air, you certainly won't find any information about it searching online. But, we do know there will be one, and we do know that each team is allowed to protect fifteen players, so turning things back to the subject of this blog, how does this affect the Motor City Rockers? That came to light today when the league announced which players each team, including Elmira but excluding Delaware, are protecting for the 2023-24 season. So let's take a look at the Rockers fifteen protected players. 

Ross Bartlett - It's easy to forget about Bartlett as he only played in seventeen games for the Rockers before getting the call up to Huntsville of the SPHL right after the New Year. Unfortunately, he only played in five games with the Havoc before suffering a season-ending injury, but when you look at what he did in his seventeen games in Motor City, it's easy to see why he was protected. Bartlett scored seven goals to go along with twelve assists, a point a game forward. His 58 penalty minutes also shows he plays with grit, he'd be a welcome addition back to the Rockers lineup next season.

Trevor Babin - As much of a no-brainer as it gets, the team's number one goalie and one of the best in the Fed. The only question with Babin is does he get a shot at a higher league? If he does, it's much deserved, but either way you have to protect his rights if you're Motor City.

Tommy Cardinal - Cardinal finished second on the team in penalty minutes, but also was one of four twenty-goal scorers on the Rockers. You can never have enough forwards who can put the puck in the net, but also aren't afraid to get their nose dirty.

Scott Coash - Like Babin, another player that certainly is deserving of a shot at a higher league. Coash led the Rockers in goals with forty and points with 72. As natural a goal scorer as you'll find in the FPHL, if he's returning to the league, thankfully it will be here.

Josh Colten - The big defenseman is one of the anchors on the blueline for Motor City and finished tied for fifth in points on the team.

Declan Conway - Centering the top line with Coash and usually Connor Inger, this was another easy choice. Conway finished second on the team in goals with 27 and points with 52.

Roman Gaudet - The Flat Rock native, and biggest forward on the team, finished seventh in points with 33, and also wasn't afraid to mix it up and use his size.

Connor Inger - Another local player from Macomb, Inger joined the team in mid-January, only playing in 29 games, yet finishing tied for eighth in points with 31. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he can put up in a full season, especially if he remains on the first line with Conway and Coash.

Nicholas Magill-Diaz - Clawson's own came home to join the Rockers in mid-December after starting the season in the SPHL with Vermilion County and Quad City. He was a welcome addition to the defense corps, just a steady defenseman who also will throw his body around.    

Derek Makimaa - The Swartz Creek native impressed in his first season of professional hockey, finishing third on the team in goals with 22 and tied for fifth in points with 41. Another big forward who isn't afraid to get physical, one of the anchors of the second line.

Tim Perks - Hailing from Oxford, Perks is a fan favorite, I hear people shouting his name at games all the time. The hard working forward is also one of the quicker players on the team and he chipped in seven goals and seventeen points in 33 games.

Brad Reitter - At 5'7", 170, Reitter is on the smaller side, but do not let his size fool you. Like Perks, another speed demon who also wound up third on the team in points with 47. The Grand Rapids native made it easy to protect his rights.

Dante Suffredini - Along with Colten, another rock on the blueline who had to be kept. Suffredini also led the team in assists with 36 and finished fourth in points with 44. And he's another local guy.

Elias Thompson - Every team in the Fed needs toughness and at this level of hockey, every team needs that one designated tough guy. Elias fills that role perfectly. He's also quickly becoming kind of a folk hero to the fanbase with his heavyweight bouts and post-fight celebrations. His 138 penalty minutes led the team, but the fact he chipped in three goals and six points in such a limited role tells me "Big Sexy" has a lot more to give on the ice with increased playing time. 

Danny Vanderwiel - The former Plymouth Whaler joined the Rockers in late November and by the time 2023 rolled around, was named team captain and a player/assistant coach. His sixteen points in 28 games were a big contribution as well.

With those fifteen players protected, that means the rest of the roster is not and is available to the expansion teams at the time of the draft. Let's take a quick look at the players who were not protected.

Ricardo Gonzalez - The rookie goaltender joined the Rockers at the end of March and saw 42 minutes of action. Given his status, I'm honestly not even sure if his rights needed to be protected. I'll try to get this clarified. 

Dylan Johnson - Another player you might have forgotten about, Johnson joined Motor City at the beginning of December, popped in six goals and added five assists in just seven games, then was recalled to Birmingham of the SPHL, where he spent the rest of the season picking up thirty points in 38 games. More than likely, he wasn't coming back to the Motor City next season.

Cade Lambdin - This was the biggest surprise for me as Lambdin is another fan favorite. The undersized forward busts his tail every shift, blocking shots with reckless abandon and is not afraid to mix it up or get under the skin of any player on the opposing team. However, it's hard to argue with any of the fifteen protected. Unfortunately Lambdin may be playing elsewhere next season, but I'm certainly hoping a deal is worked out for him to return.

Jameson Milam - After former Red Wing Ian White signed in the ECHL, Milam was a welcome veteran presence on the blueline. He joined Motor City in late January and was a +22 while also contributing four goals with that booming slapshot of his and six assists. Milam has played at higher levels most of his career, but at 39 he might be ready to hang up the skates. And even if he is not, the Lake Orion native is not likely looking to play far away from home at this stage. 

Cody Oakes - Oakes joined the Rockers in mid-December after starting the year in Carolina, appearing in eighteen games and contributing eight points. But he is one of those players on the bubble when you look at who was protected, he just wasn't going to supplant any of those fifteen.

Nick Papandrea - Much like Oakes, Papandrea is another player who just didn't play enough to warrant being protected over the fifteen who were. Papandrea bounced around quite a bit in the 2022-23 season, seeing some time with Quad City of the SPHL and playing for Carolina, Elmira, Watertown and Motor City in the Fed. He joined the Rockers in March but only saw action in five late season games.

Travis Ridgen - The You-Tuber/podcaster/self-promoting Ridgen never really got much of a shot here, but credit to Trav, he has championed Trevor Babin as the best goaltender in the FPHL consistently on his podcast and social media. He knows it would be foolish to complain about not playing over Babin. Ridgen played in just 44 minutes before a season-ending knee injury took him out of the picture, but he did win one game for the Rockers, a wild 7-6 victory over Watertown in October, after he had to take over for Babin who was tossed from the game for fighting.

Ryan Rotondi - The Port Huron native signed with the Rockers on three separate occasions during the season and I was always impressed with his solid play on the blueline. In thirty games, Rotondi scored three goals and added five assists and also spent 41 minutes in the penalty box, always willing to take part in the physical side of the game. 

Blake Scott - Scott won the backup goalie battle and, at times, stepped in admirably when Babin was out, either due to suspension or illness. Scott went 11-5-2 in net, with a 3.69 GAA and .898 save percentage. He stood on his head in a shutout over Port Huron as well. But with Babin firmly the number one here, it's tough to use two spots on goaltenders and Scott did struggle at times letting in untimely goals, especially during a rough road trip to Mississippi in February after Babin was suspended. Scott was a solid backup, but my assumption is the team is looking for an upgrade.

Mike Winn - Another bit of a surprise, although Winn did miss a good portion of the season due to injury. Once he returned in March though, he was on the blueline every night logging a lot of ice time. On the depth chart, he fell behind Colten, Suffredini and Magill-Diaz who were protected. It will be interesting to see where Ann Arbor's Winn lands.

Before the protected list was announced, I had made my own best guess at the fifteen players Motor City would retain, and I was spot on with one exception. I had Cade Lambdin instead of Ross Bartlett, not knowing Bartlett's status. You really cannot argue with who was protected, and one important note for fans who may be upset about a certain player who was not. A lot can happen between now and the start of the regular season. Deals are made, players are left unprotected because teams know they won't sign elsewhere, or have no intention to even play next season in some veteran's cases. Just because a player is unprotected above, does not necessarily mean they won't be wearing a Motor City Rockers jersey come next season. On the other side of that coin, just because they were protected doesn't mean these fifteen are a lock to be there when the season starts. As I mentioned, players will be looking for opportunities in higher leagues, or maybe even overseas.  A lot happens in the offseason with player movement in minor league hockey and I'll be here to chronicle all of it involving the Rockers from now until opening faceoff in October.