Thursday, April 21, 2005

Alpena gets NAHL team for this fall

It's official - the Toledo IceDiggers are moving to Alpena.

In a press conference held at the Northern Lights Arena last Saturday night, Mike Mankowski, head coach and general manager of the IceDiggers, the team's owners, and Norm Sommerfeld, manager of Northern Lights Arena, made the announcement that the North American Hockey League unanimously approved moving the team to Alpena and an agreement has been signed with the rink.

The team will be re-named the Alpena IceDiggers.

"It's been a long three to four weeks working out the final details," Mankowski said. "Obviously, this is an exciting time for us and the Alpena community. We're excited to go to a community where we're wanted and appreciated. Norm has done a tremendous amount of work to get this done and our owners have done a tremendous amount of work to get this done. The Northern Lights Arena and the IceDiggers see this as a great opportunity - a win-win situation."

The IceDiggers are signed to a one-year contract with two one-year options.

"First off, we're glad it's over," Sommerfeld said. "There have been a lot of revisions to make it happen. There hasn't been any one sticking point, but we've been going back and forth. This is huge for us economically and for the community. This is going to bring $70-80,000 in revenue to the rink. There are a lot of expenses, but the revenue outweighs the expenses."

The NAHL playoffs are in full swing and although the IceDiggers aren't in the postseason things aren't going to slow down for long.

"April and May are big recruiting months," Mankowski said. "In June and July are open tryouts."

The IceDiggers will be holding their invitational camp in Alpena July 31-Aug. 2. Rookies will report on Aug. 14 and veterans on Aug. 21. Mankowski said the IceDiggers are holding open camps in Toledo and Philadelphia and there are plans to hold an open camp in Alpena in late July.

Goalie Phil Greer, center Andrew Wilcox and left wing Darin Holland have all signed with Alpena for this coming fall.

Wilcox and Holland were teammates this past season with the Rochester (Minn.) Century High team while Greer tended goal for for Kimball Union (Mass.) Academy in the New England Prep League where he played 897 minutes posting a 3.01 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.

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