By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
In the SPHL at this time of year, it’s not uncommon to see lineup changes due to injuries, loans to the ECHL and college seniors wrapping up their collegiate careers becoming available for pro teams to sign.
Knoxville Ice Bears second-year Head Coach Jeff Carr shook up his roster in a rather different fashion.
On Monday, the franchise announced it had traded leading scorer Danny Cesarz to the Quad City Storm in exchange for forward Mitchell Mueller. Mueller had been Quad City’s top scorer with 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 37 games this year.
The 26-year-old Cesarz has scored 12 goals on top of posting 26 assists for 38 points this year in 37 appearances for the Ice Bears. He joined the franchise in the middle of the 2014-15 season and finishes his tenure in Knoxville with 160 games played over the past four years.
Cesarz was held without a point in his last four appearances for Knoxville. He entered February second in the league in points.
Mueller, 24, is in his third season in the SPHL following one season at NCAA Division 1 American International College. During his rookie season he spent time with the Peoria Rivermen and the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in the SPHL, and the Danville Dashers of the Federal Hockey League.
Last season Mueller began the season in Roanoke and was called up to the ECHL where he played 17 games for the Norfolk Admirals. He finished the season back in the SPHL with the Fayetteville Marksmen. He joined Quad City at the start of this season.
Storm Head Coach Dave Pszenyczny told the Quad-City Times Mueller had expressed a trade “about two weeks ago” in order to join a team more primed to make a postseason run. Knoxville is currently tied for fourth place in the league standings. Quad City is eight points behind for the eighth and final playoff spot with less than 20 games remaining in the season.
To make things more interesting the Ice Bears host the Storm at the Civic Coliseum this Thursday night.
However, it appears unlikely Cesarz will be on the ice for Thursday. He missed three games over the last two weekends for Knoxville. Pszenyczny told the Quad-City Times the team’s newly acquired forward is in his home state of Michigan undergoing post-concussion protocol.