West Michigan franchise dormant for season
The Midwest Junior Hockey League has announced that the West Michigan Freeze franchise will not compete during the 2013-14 season and has placed its team into dormancy.
The Freeze will be eligible to apply for reinstatement to the MWJHL for the 2014-15 season, the league announced on it website.
“This is an unfortunate situation, but it’s the right thing to do at this point with the season just a couple weeks away,” MWJHL commissioner Scott Gardiner said. “Many factors go into making a Junior hockey franchise viable and while (Freeze owner) Mr. (Ed) McCormack worked very hard and put forth the effort, all the factors needed to make his team work were not present.”
Any players that had signed with West Michigan are now considered free agents and the Freeze is working to find teams for its players for the 2013-14 season.
“We will move forward with our seven solid member teams for this coming season,” added Gardiner. “We will continue to accept and review applications for future membership in our league and will continue as a league to grow and keep our focus on our players and developing them for higher levels of hockey.
“We had close to 30 players from last season commit to play College Hockey this year. That shows you that our league has credibility and that our players received the necessary exposure for college scouts and other Junior hockey scouts. Our league is still growing and I am extremely excited with the direction we are going.”
The seven teams for the 2013-14 MWJHL season include six in Michigan – the Alpena Street Cats, Berkley Bruins, Detroit (Allen Park) Fighting Irish, Michigan (Farmington Hills) Ice Dogs, Soo Firehawks and Traverse City Hounds – and the Bloomington (Ill.) Jr. Blaze.
A revised 2013-14 MWJHL schedule will be released soon.
LC AAA vet joins Traverse City
Josh Smith is used to playing hockey away from his home in Alaska and this year will be no different.
This season Smith is going from playing Midget Major AAA for Little Caesars to Junior hockey for the Midwest Junior Hockey League’s Traverse City Hounds.
And knowing what the Hounds went through last season in winning the MWJHL regular-season and Veteran’s Memorial Cup championships makes the 19-year-old forward ready for the current campaign to get underway.
“The best thing I bring to the team is my work ethic,” said Smith, a native of Eagle River, Ak, on the MWJHL website. “I don’t want to lose in the playoffs this year. It’ll be a great season as long as we work hard and stay disciplined. To go all the way this year, we need to push harder and get better every day.”
As an Alaska native, Smith has been exposed to hockey his whole life, with two NCAA Division I teams in the state (Alaska-Fairbanks and Alaska-Anchorage) and two North American Hockey League franchises in the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Kenai River Brown Bears.
“There is some very great hockey in Alaska,” said Smith. “This last year our 18 AAA team went to nationals and played well.”
At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Smith is built for the rigors of Junior hockey and hopes to use this season as a stepping stone to higher levels of the game.
During the 2012-13 season, Smith skated alongside another Hounds’ commitment, Garrison Sanipass.
“(Hounds’ director of hockey operations) Lester Griffin was my team manager this last year for Caesars and he invited me at the end of the season and here I am,” Smith said. “Last year went well, not what I hoped for in the playoffs, but we came together as a team. I also improved a lot and learned what it takes to play at the next level.”