The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that the Soo Eagles, a Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan-based junior hockey team, has been granted a membership into the NAHL effective for the 2012-13 season. The group was granted approval to operate in the Sault Ste. Marie market conditioned upon acquiring and relocating an existing NAHL membership, which turned out to be the Traverse City North Stars. The NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey league in the United States, with 28 teams representing 14 states and British Columbia.
“We set out as an ownership group in June of 2010 to provide boys an opportunity to improve their game, grow as men, give back to the community, and provide a track to NCAA Division I and Division III college hockey programs,” said Soo Eagles owner Ron Lavin. “We’re delighted to have been accepted in the NAHL and we want to be sure everyone within the community knows that we are keeping the Soo Eagles hockey team right here in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Mayor Tony Bosbous, City Manager Spencer Nebel, and Parks & Recreation Director Dan Wyers have all been extremely supportive and helpful to us and we appreciate their support.”
This isn’t the first time an NAHL team has been in the Sault Ste. Marie area. The Soo Kewadin Indians played in the NAHL from 1995-2005, producing players like current Buffalo Sabres goaltender and Michigan native Ryan Miller. “We are very pleased to have a team back in the Sault Ste. Marie area because it has such a passionate and knowledgeable fan base,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “The NAHL’s roots reside in the state of Michigan and we are happy that we are adding a quality organization like the Soo Eagles to our already well-established footprint in the area. With the amount of NCAA hockey programs in the area, it is a natural fit and will provide the players the best opportunity for exposure as they look to build their hockey careers.”
“Working with the NAHL and Mark Frankenfeld has been a great experience thus far and we look forward to a long, successful relationship that develops the growth of young men who decide to play in the NAHL, on and off of the ice. We’re very pleased with the extensive and thorough process that it took to be approved by the NAHL,” continued Lavin. “As an organization, we are making a significant financial commitment and are looking forward to the continued support of our local fans and sponsors. Without them, we couldn’t begin to take on this new project. It’s our goal to sell 300 season tickets for the upcoming year.”
The Eagles will play their home games out of Pullar Stadium, which seats 2,250 spectators for hockey games. The facility has private locker rooms, a training room and team offices on site. Local broadcast group Sovereign Communications will deliver live coverage of the Soo Eagles hockey games on their all-sports radio station ESPN 1400 AM again next season. Veteran hockey announcer John Bell will continue to bring fans the play-by-play action.