The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that Johnstown Sports Partners LLC, a private investment group led by Esmark, Inc. Chairman and CEO James P. Bouchard, has completed the acquisition of the NAHL’s Alaska Avalanche and will relocate the franchise to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The NAHL has granted a membership to the yet-to-be-named franchise for the 2012-13 NAHL season.
Terms of the all-cash acquisition and relocation were not disclosed. The NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey league in the United States, currently with 27 teams representing 14 states. The new Johnstown franchise will inherit approximately 18 players eligible to play junior hockey from the Avalanche franchise and will play its home games at the historic Cambria County War Memorial Arena, which was featured in the classic hockey movie, “Slap Shot.”
James P. Bouchard, Chairman and majority owner of Johnstown Sports Partners LLC said, “We’re thrilled to have been accepted into the NAHL and excited about bringing a new brand of junior hockey to the region that recognizes the illustrious past of the Johnstown Chiefs and provides a showcase for the young men seeking to further their hockey careers in the NCAA’s college hockey programs.
“This sale and relocation wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous collaboration and support of the NAHL, Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld, and Mark Lee, former principal owner of the Avalanche and an investor and co-owner of the new team,” added Bouchard. “Along with investor and team co-owner James Vasilko, President of Johnstown Construction Company, we intend to field a highly competitive team that the great hockey fans in the Johnstown community and region will embrace, support and enjoy in a family-friendly atmosphere.”
NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld said the league is delighted to welcome a junior hockey presence to the Johnstown market. “With its historic past and fan base eager for the return of hockey to the War Memorial Arena, we’re very pleased that Jim Bouchard and his management team have committed to building a winning tradition and being an active member of the Johnstown community.”
A presentation to and final approval by the USA Hockey junior council is expected no later than June 9th.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)