It’s been quiet of late on the Federal Hockey League expansion front. Too quiet.
But today, we came across a bit of news that should have FHL fans salivating and excited for the start of the 2018-19 season.
Early today Carolina Thunderbirds GM Scott Brand stoked the expansion flames with this post in the Carolina Thunderbirds Fan Page on Facebook:
Hey now. That’s three teams! Two for this year, as we’ve reported a couple weeks back, and one for next year.
So let’s try and figure out these three teams, starting with “1st team.”
We believe first team is Mentor, Ohio. We’ve confirmed through numerous people that there will be an expansion team in Ohio near a major city, and our earlier sleuthing led us to Mentor, which features a beautiful rink, the right size city, hockey in the local culture, and the fact that it’s right in the heart of FHL territory. We’ve even reached out to the rink who played it coy and said any news of a team should come from the FHL, rather than the rink. This one has been hotly rumored on at least two occasions that an announcement was imminent, and it sounds like we should have one on this team in a week or so, according to that “before June 11th” Brand mentioned above.
Next, the “other” team.
This one has been the hardest one to figure out, the only nugget we’ve been able to dig up was another post from Brand in the Thunderbirds fan group where he said he was meeting with a city in the, “northwest midwest.” Which isn’t terribly specific, but maybe gives us a hint that it’s Illinois, or perhaps Indiana? There’s a rink in Evanston, Illinois that fits the mold of the FHL, but we haven’t heard anything back regarding that, and then struck out on Dyer, Indiana, when we broke that they are getting a USPHL team. This is the wild card, and one we’ve been working to get more info on, but haven’t been able to get much.
Finally, the 2019-20 team.
The city that was on the front burner for expansion talk up until a month or so ago was Battle Creek, Michigan. Now, during that time of trying to find out if a team was heading to Battle Creek we were told one team had some “bad news” regarding expanding the arena. We believed that was Battle Creek, whose rink is under local ownership, but only seats around 900 people at the moment. It makes sense that they would want to take a year to get the arena up to 1500+ seats, rather than rush into the league and play with less than 1000 seats this year. Plus it gives them a year to market, brand, and whatever else a team needs to do.
The other interesting note is the schedule release should be coming in late mid-June, which means the league has been working diligently on a schedule, likely with seven teams, even before the two expansion teams for this year have been officially announced. So it sounds like the league has known all along they had two teams for sure, and have just been waiting for Ts to get crossed an Is to get dotted.
So to recap:
Two expansion teams for this year, an announcement on one no later than June 11th, an expansion team that is all but done for 2019-20, and the league’s schedule release later this month. PHEW. Quite a lot of news to process while you’re hungover.
Get excited FHL fans, there’s lots of news and updates heading your way in the coming days and weeks.