The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that Johnstown Sports Partners LLC, a private investment group led by Esmark, Inc. Chairman and CEO James P. Bouchard, has completed the acquisition of the NAHL’s Alaska Avalanche and will relocate the franchise to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The NAHL has granted a membership to the yet-to-be-named franchise for the 2012-13 NAHL season.
Terms of the all-cash acquisition and relocation were not disclosed. The NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey league in the United States, currently with 27 teams representing 14 states. The new Johnstown franchise will inherit approximately 18 players eligible to play junior hockey from the Avalanche franchise and will play its home games at the historic Cambria County War Memorial Arena, which was featured in the classic hockey movie, “Slap Shot.”
James P. Bouchard, Chairman and majority owner of Johnstown Sports Partners LLC said, “We’re thrilled to have been accepted into the NAHL and excited about bringing a new brand of junior hockey to the region that recognizes the illustrious past of the Johnstown Chiefs and provides a showcase for the young men seeking to further their hockey careers in the NCAA’s college hockey programs.
“This sale and relocation wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous collaboration and support of the NAHL, Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld, and Mark Lee, former principal owner of the Avalanche and an investor and co-owner of the new team,” added Bouchard. “Along with investor and team co-owner James Vasilko, President of Johnstown Construction Company, we intend to field a highly competitive team that the great hockey fans in the Johnstown community and region will embrace, support and enjoy in a family-friendly atmosphere.”
NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld said the league is delighted to welcome a junior hockey presence to the Johnstown market. “With its historic past and fan base eager for the return of hockey to the War Memorial Arena, we’re very pleased that Jim Bouchard and his management team have committed to building a winning tradition and being an active member of the Johnstown community.”
About Johnstown Sports Partners LLC
The Johnstown Sports Partners LLC group includes Chairman and Majority Owner James P. Bouchard; Mark Lee, former Alaska Avalanche principal owner and investor/co-owner of the new team; and James Vasilko, President of Johnstown Construction Company and an investor/co-owner of the new team. The team will be named and managed under the Johnstown Sports Partners organization. The team also announced that Richard E. Bouchard will serve as the new President of the franchise. In addition, the team announced that Rick Boyd, a former Johnstown Chief player and longtime junior hockey advocate, will serve as General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations for the franchise, and that former Chiefs player Jean Desrochers will serve as Director of Business Operations. The team said that it will seek input from the Johnstown community for the new hockey team and is currently conducting a search for the head coaching position. A new team name and logo design will be announced in the coming weeks.
About Esmark, Inc., The Bouchard Group and Esmark Sports & Youth Development
Through Esmark, Inc., The Bouchard Group and the company’s Sports & Youth Development subsidiaries, the company has been an active supporter and benefactor of both professional and youth sports organizations in the Pittsburgh area for many years, including its sponsorship of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team; its financial support for the Quaker Valley (PA) Recreation Association’s sports programs and the Pittsburgh Vipers All-Stars AAA youth hockey team; and the development of the Bouchard Family Park and Esmark Field baseball and sports complex in Bell Acres, PA. The company is also a longtime sponsor of the Quaker Valley High School hockey team program, which won the 2011-2012 PHIL Class A State Hockey Championship. Mr. Bouchard and Esmark also founded and support the FC Pittsburgh Youth Soccer Development program, as well as being a principal sponsor of the Pittsburgh Power Arena Football League franchise. More information about Esmark, Inc. and its subsidiaries can be found at www.esmark.com.