The Federal Hockey League begins its third year of operation this fall. After starting the 2011-12 season with nine teams and ending with seven, the league will consist of six teams to start 2012-13. Two of those six teams will have an Ontario Hockey League grad between the pipes.
Matt Anthony will play in his second season with the 1000 Islands Privateers. In 2011-12, he played in 38 games for the club posting a 3.42 goals against average. The number was high but still good enough for fifth in the high scoring league. Despite a much shorter schedule than the NHL (each team will play 60 games this season), the FHL had three players exceed 100 points. The league was led by Pierre Dagenais who scored 81 goals and assisted on 62 for 143 points in just 45 games. Dagenais has 142 games experience in the NHL. The Privateers finished second overall and lost out in the semi-finals this past season.
Anthony played three years in the OHL from 2001-02 to 2003-04, all with the Windsor Spitfires. Used sparingly as a backup in his first two years, Matt played 54 of the team’s 68 games in his final campaign. For three seasons, 2008-09 to 2010-11, Anthony was the starter for Eindhoven Kemphanen in the Netherlands.
Stephane Cesar appeared in 21 OHL games over a two year span from 2006-07 to 2007-08. He backed up the London Knights in his first season and played with London and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in his second. Originally, Cesar was drafted by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL in 2004. He played sparingly with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2005-06.
2012-13 will be Stephane’s first season in the FHL. After the Dayton Gems lost their Central Hockey League franchise at the end of the 2011-12 season, the Dayton Devils were born as a FHL expansion franchise. Cesar will start for the Devils after playing just five games in 2011-12 with the Saguenay Marquis of Quebec’s LNAH. The previous two seasons, Cesar played against Matt Anthony in the Netherlands. In 2009-10, he played for Friesland Flyers and in 2010-11 he played for Nijmegen Devils – both years as the primary goaltender.
Along with the Devils and Privateers, the FHL will start the 2012-13 season with the Cape Cod Bluefins, Danbury Whalers, Danville Dashers and Williamsport Outlaws. After being scheduled to start the 2011-12 season with nine teams, the Vermont Wild claimed bankruptcy before playing a single game and the Delaware Federals called it quits after just 19 games.