The Interstate Hockey League has expanded to six teams today, Commisioner Drake MacKenzie announces.
MacKenzie, who has been the busiest hockey mogul in Michigan this Summer, had initially had plans for the IHL to be larger than the four teams originally announced. With the Mitten-based expansion, he receives those wishes well before the season.
A team from Flint has formed under the name Vehicle City Villains.
Cody Lucas will serve as the team’s General Manager. The team has not found a suitable lease yet, but are considering a few.
The IHL’s beta-league, the Metropolitan Hockey League, was based out of Flint.
Lucas approached the IHL and MacKenzie after accumulating a team of interested players. With a full team and interest, this was a steal for the IHL.
“We started as the Lapeer Lumberjacks on 2015. We played in a couple leagues prior, and wanted to move the team to the Flint area, and really wanted to get back to full contact hockey,” said Lucas “We have a very solid group of guys, and a ready to rumble mentality and game play.”
The second-team is the Sanilac Blades, the IHL’s new northern-most team.
The Blades will play out of Colleen J. Howe Ice Arena in Sandusky, and lead by MacKenzie and Director of Marketing Josh Avedisian.
The Blades team will be made up by splitting the Fraser Sharks (formerly the Hadley Nepessings) team in half, who had too many players. MacKenzie is originally from Fraser.
Avedisian was very high on the area’s potential.
“Sandusky/Sanilac is going to be perfect for this league. It’s a small town with not much going on entertainment wise unless you travel to Port Huron or Saginaw. The arena is going to be perfect, if you are looking for the old-time hockey feel.” said Avedisian “They have a youth association there that we have every intention to work with and raise money for them. It’s the perfect fit and we are ready to put our roots down in the area and become apart of the community.”
The IHL in its initial inception into Senior Hockey focused strictly on Southeast Michigan, after having some previous poor experiences in the Flint area. With knowledge of rinks in the metro-Detroit area, the idea to scout and prospect down there made the most sense.
When Lucas approached with a team all-together in Flint, and the idea for Sanilac with Avedisian came together, it was too sweet to pass up for the league.
MacKenzie thought very highly of adding these two team’s into his league.
“Adding Flint is huge. Flint has been longing for the more rough and tumble hockey style. Which is what we have. I feel like it’s going to be one of our strongest markets,” said MacKenzie
“Sanilac and Sandusky is the perfect IHL market. We don’t have any competition with other entertainment. Not to mention they are hugely growing Hockey market, with their first high school team taking the ice the winter as well.”
The IHL will look to make a strong impact on the senior hockey community as it starts its season in the Fall, including the cross-league match up with Great Lakes Hockey League’s Fond Du Lac Bears.
The addition of prevalent communities in east Michigan will be great for the league’s legitimacy.
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