The journey of professional hockey coming to Lake County, Ohio has been forthcoming since the news was tipped off to us in late March by a high-level source at the Federal Hockey League.
Since then, this expansion attempt has run into issues with lease agreements, finding proper local ownership, obtaining a liquor license (most recent delay), and who knows what else that we haven’t been told.
However, after long last, the Mentor Ice Arena (who followed BLH earlier this week) tweeted out a special teaser last night.
This tweet, as it would so happen, was retweeted by “@ElmiraFHL” who Rovitz discovered some time back before any announcements were made by Elmira. This tweet was also liked by the FHL.
As we look back at this journey, it’s important to note the incredibly low-key nature that this expansion has undergone. No local media outlets have had a single peep on the story, no official leak of the city had been made on social media or in the press by league administrators or staff – as Elmira eventually had been – and the only updates on the story coming from our site, it’s been difficult to know any info on the city and potential-expansion.
The only affirmation that our site received, outside of our initial league source and eventually confirmed by more at the FHL, came from a slip-up from a possible intern at Mentor Civic Center, who told us in the late Spring that an announcement “should come from the league itself” and that the league had been in talks with the arena.
Since then, it’s been mostly mum.
Until last night, which was the only public confirmation of ANYTHING Mentor, Ohio related.
Here’s what we do know:
- The FHL schedule has been finished and approved for roughly a week, and included Elmira and Mentor.
- This schedule is a 58-game unbalanced schedule. This replaces the previous 54-game balanced schedule. This is likely to allow for neutral-site games.
- Per a very reliable source, Port Huron’s Joe Pace Sr. will be taking over command of the Mentor team as the GM or a similar front office role.
- There are roughly under 100 days until the Federal Hockey League season
Now it just becomes a waiting game for all of us around the league. Scott Brand, who has orchestrated everything in the Mentor expansion and been the glue that’s held this deal in place through everything, teased the two expansion announcements for air on Wednesday of this week.
Instead, we got Elmira Tuesday, and nothing from Mentor.
With a tweet announcement like this, one can only suspect we either get a news break today, or early next week. One can’t imagine a large-scale press conference of Elmira’s scale simply due to the nature of time, and the secret buildup to this.
We have reached back out to Mentor Ice Arena, and – unsurprisingly – have not yet heard back.