Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Marquette to get NAHL team?

In a continuing effort to further the rich hockey heritage in Marquette, North Coast Hockey, Inc. is pursuing retention of a North American Hockey League franchise to be known as the Marquette Iron Rangers.

"The Iron Rangers have a rich tradition and colorful history, and are an integral part of hockey in Marquette,” stated David Saint-Onge, President of North Coast Hockey, Inc. “The community relishes the opportunity to revive this team and place it among the very best Junior A franchises in the NAHL.”

With the continued expansion of the NAHL into the Traverse City and Alpena markets in Michigan, the inclusion of the Iron Rangers makes perfect sense from a logistical, competitive and marketing perspective.

"Marquette is a great hockey venue,” Saint-Onge went on to say. “We believe the benefits of a Junior A team in a community that already sports an extensive junior hockey travel program and is home to the Marquette Electricians Midget Major AAA and the Division I Northern Michigan University Wildcats, are practical and obvious. If there was ever a true hockey town, it's Marquette, Michigan.”

Pursuit of this franchise has been on-going since 2003. The due diligence process was suspended for a short time to permit the NAHL to continue its reorganization efforts. Now, with the recent expansion of the league to 20 teams and the departure of the Soo Indians, the time is right for Junior A hockey to return to the Upper Peninsula.

In correspondence dated September 27, 2005, Michael Santos, President and Commissioner of the NAHL, noted, "The NAHL and its twenty active member clubs are hopeful for the opportunity to welcome Marquette and North Coast Hockey into the league.”

He noted the NAHL is celebrating its 30th anniversary and is the oldest and largest national Junior A league in the United States. Aside from its history of developing thousands of young hockey players for college and professional careers, the NAHL member clubs pride themselves on being generous contributors to their communities.

The Marquette Iron Rangers will uphold this legacy. Santos noted, "The NAHL believes the city of Marquette would make a fine home for a Junior A hockey club controlled and operated by North Coast Hockey."

North Coast Hockey, Inc. is currently negotiating with municipal leaders to house the team at Lakeview Arena, a multi-ice facility located in the heart of the community and next door to the NMU's Berry Events Center.

"Lakeview Arena has been home to numerous Michigan Amateur Hockey Association and USA Hockey National Championship tournaments over the last 20 years," stated Rich Tegge, Vice President of Hockey Operations for North Coast Hockey, Inc. "We respect the heritage of the Iron Rangers and are committed to operating this franchise in a manner that will make the community and the NAHL proud."

For more info, go to the official North Coast Hockey website.

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