FAIRBANKS, AK-The NAHL draft is over and the Ice Dogs will continue to prepare for not only a new season but a new division and new looking NAHL. In recent weeks there has been a lot of team movement in the league.
The ownership group of the Wenatchee Wild relocated their NAHL membership to Hidalgo, Texas and are now the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. The Town Toyota Center where the Wild played, bought the logo and Wild name from the previous owners.
David White, the owner and governor of the Fresno Monsters relocated and reactivated the Monsters to Wenatchee.
So basically, the Fresno Monsters turned into the Wenatchee Wild and last year's Wild team are now the Killer Bees in Rio Grande.
Also the winningest coach in USA Hockey, Bliss Littler will remain as the Wild head coach and retain his assistant coaches.
Some new teams will be a part of the NAHL in the 2013-2014 season. The Minnesota Wilderness in Cloquet, Minnesota and the Minnesota Magicians in Richfield and the previously mentioned Rio Grande Killer Bees.
How does this affect Fairbanks?
The Ice Dogs will be in a new Midwest division featuring the Kenai Brown Bears, the Wilderness, the Magicians, Wenatchee, and the Coulee Region Chill. Get this, the town where the Chill play in is called OnAlaska in Wisconsin. So there could be three rivalries now for the Ice Dogs.
Today we caught up with Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt and head coach Trevor Stewart by phone about the league changes. Proffitt believes this will help the Ice Dogs in the long run.
"I think it'll help with our recruiting tools back in the Midwest again we kind of moved a little farther west the last few years and it isn't our first time through this Midwest slash West division we've been there with the likes of Bismarck and Alexandria, Minnesota and stuff in the past," Proffit said. "So it's not like our first time through it so, I think there's nothing but positives all the way around."
This division move will also be way for more eyes to be on the Ice Dogs organization.
"It'll be a nice geographical area to concentrate in. The transportation will be good and then as well as exposing our guys to even more college hockey programs in that area and being front of more college guys and opportunities for scholarships," Proffitt said.
Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart is preparing his new team to play, no matter the division.
"Our [west] division was definitely a skilled division and very competitive and I think the south is a bigger division and a little more rugged. I think whatever division we're in, we're going to be prepared for it," Stewart said.