The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that the league’s Board of Governors has accepted the membership application of Fresno Ice, LLC.
The club, which will be named the Fresno Monsters, will begin play in the 2010-11 season and play its home games at the 7,600-seat Selland Arena in Fresno, Calif.
“The Fresno ownership group, along with the community, has shown a resounding commitment to junior hockey and our league and we couldn’t be happier to have them part of our family,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “Their acceptance brings so much to the NAHL, both in terms of player development and our expanding presence on the West Coast.”
The Monsters are currently in their first year of operations in the Tier III Junior A Western States Hockey League (WSHL). The organization will continue to operate a team in the WSHL next season.
After 36 games this year, the Monsters hold a WSHL-best 33-3 record while averaging close to 3,000 a game in attendance, which ranks first in the league.
“We’re excited to be a part NAHL and everything the league represents in terms of player development and exposure,” said Monsters coach and general manager Eric Ballard. “The city of Fresno has been overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts this season and we’re eager to showcase the league and its great tradition to our community for years to come.”
The first NAHL team to call California home, the Monsters’ presence is expected to open more doors for NAHL expansion in the Golden State, which is quickly establishing itself as a premier region for college and professional prospects.
“Year after year, California continues to develop a number of high-end players and the NAHL’s presence will give these aspiring student-athletes a chance to advance to higher levels while receiving first-class development right in their own backyard,” said Frankenfeld. “We’re excited about the prospects of future growth on the West Coast, and the Monsters’ arrival is a big step in the right direction.”
Selland Arena, which has undergone over $8 million in renovations over the past two years, is the former home of the ECHL’s Fresno Falcons, which ceased operations midseason a year ago.
“It’s one of the premier facilities in junior hockey,” said Ballard. “Not only is our fan support unmatched, but the arena also provides all of the amenities players need to develop, on and off the ice.”
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)