The United States Premier Hockey League is re-welcoming what one Federal Hockey League GM called “a great hockey market”, as Dyer, Indiana will officially be home to junior hockey once again.
As we broke around a month ago, while searching for future FHL expansion sites, we bumped into Dyer’s Midwest Training and Ice Center a beautiful ice complex in Northwest Indiana, and former home to hockey both pro and junior.
Upon reaching out to the rink in regards to considering tenants, we immediately heard back from them, confirming a team was coming, and later telling us it was for the USPHL, a non-USA Hockey affiliated Tier III Junior Hockey league.
We’ve now been exclusively given even further details on the expansion, as we can now proudly introduce the league’s newest member – the Midwest Blackbirds.
Dyer is roughly 30 minutes away from Chicago, and in the past hosted a pro team called the Chi-Town Shooters (AAHL). The name and logo are a clever homage to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks is a tip of the hat, while also recognizing the city’s heritage.
Dyer has been home to competitive hockey every year since 2008. The last team to skate in MTIC was the USPHL’s Illiana Blackbirds in 2017, who had to fold due to their owner/head coach Reid Simpson being offered a spot as a Blackhawks assistant coach.
The Blackbirds will be coached by MTIC Hockey Director Brian Bell, and the facility will host 17 games in the 32 game USPHL season, playing in the Midwest Division. Bell was officially hired in mid-May, and through the course of multiple big meetings, the facility officially worked out a plan to bring back the junior team, and enhance the community’s current hockey program starting immediately with summer camps.
Wanting to drive fans in, and having the capacity of roughly 1500, the Blackbirds and MTIC are offering full-season tickets for as low as $60 – roughly $3.50 a game. Hard to beat that kind of deal.
The team has already started accepting players from nearby hockey hub Chicago, Toronto, and “all over to play here”.
While not yet finished, the Blackbirds have registered a domain and are putting the finishing touches on their new team website.
This is a humongous boost for the USPHL Midwest, after seemingly losing the Dyer market last year, immediately having it back for the 2018-19 season.
We look forward to seeing junior hockey return to the MTIC, and hoping to continue the proud tradition of hockey in the Hoosier State.