The Michigan Warriors, who will begin play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) this fall, and Firland Management, which operates Flint’s Perani Arena, announced they have agreed to terms on a five-year lease.
Under the lease terms, the Warriors will play NAHL home games at Perani Arena as the facility’s anchor tenant through the 2014-15 season.
“For at least the next five years, Mid-Michigan will have the opportunity to cheer for a Flint-based team of talented young men, including many hometown products, as they work toward collegiate and NHL opportunities,” said Pat McEachern, a member of the Warriors’ ownership group. “Today, we committed to building a team for a community that appreciates hard work and skilled play at an arena in the process of returning to its heyday.
“Continuing the hockey tradition here in Flint means new opportunities for many young men from the heart of this state to continue their careers.”
Michigan-born players who developed their skills in the NAHL on the road to the highest level of professional hockey include Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller of East Lansing and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski of Dearborn.
The task of developing the talent of Warriors players looking to follow in the footsteps of NAHL alumni like Miller and Rafalski belongs to general manager and former NHL player Moe Mantha.
Mantha brings to the Warriors a wealth of experience in developing young hockey talent. He has coached and managed at the junior and professional levels for 15 years, including coaching the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and is active in the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association. Many of Mantha’s players have graduated to NHL and other professional hockey opportunities.
A player as well as a coach, Mantha patrolled the blue line for five teams over 12 NHL seasons and was the assistant captain of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.
“Moe is here to create an exciting brand of hockey while helping a talented group of Michigan Warriors players continue developing their abilities as they work to advance to the next level,” McEachern said. “He has been part of the game at all levels for a long time and will use that experience to help our players realize their potential right before the eyes of our fans.”
Perani Arena, which opened in 1969, has a long and storied history of hosting professional hockey. Under Firland Management, which assumed operations at Perani Arena earlier this year, the facility already has seen initial improvements, including enhanced lighting, as investments in the fan experience. Additional upgrades to the 4,000-seat facility are planned.
“Over the past 40 years, Perani Arena has been home to some of Mid-Michigan’s most exciting hockey moments,” said Firland Management chief executive officer Jim Cain, who oversees operations at the facility. “The addition of the Warriors to this venue is another important step toward our goal of providing this community the arena experience it expects and deserves.”