By Mike Albanese, TSB Staff
McKinney Warriors General Manager Reggie Hall said the decision to place a hockey team in McKinney was a no-brainer.
“McKinney is a growing and emerging market for hockey,” Hall said.
Last month, the North American Tier III Hockey League (NA3HL) announced four expansion teams, McKinney, Euless, Topeka Roadrunners and the Sugar Land Imperials. The league, which will be entering its 4th season, will have 22 teams and have four divisions: North, South, East and West.
Hall, who works as General Manager for both the team in McKinney and the Euless-based Dallas Jr. Stars, said he expects McKinney to open training camp Sept. 1.
He brings more than two decades of coaching experience to the job. And what he's seen is positive. Hall said the two youth programs in the area – the Texas Aces and McKinney Lightning – have done a great job promoting the game and bringing strong talent to the area.
Hall said it is his, and the league's hope, that the junior team in McKinney can become a “continuation” for local talent. He added that the league took into account the desire to have teams both north and south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and both McKinney and Euless presented ideal locations and opportunities.
The Warriors will play all home games at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter Ice Arena at Craig Ranch, and although the facility opened in 2009, Hall called the facility “different” from other rinks in the league.
While stating the facility is “spectacular” and praising the crew and ice at the facility, he said there are numerous items that need to be addressed to better suit his team.
First, Hall said, the facility will have to create a “designated space” for the McKinney Warrior hockey club. Hall said rinks similar to the one in McKinney were not made with the intent to house a junior-league team, but said the team needs to have a designated locker room and a “home base” for their players.
He added the addition of a workout facility is essential for players at this level.
There are other details to iron out, as well, before the 2013-14 season begins this fall. Hall said there has been no agreement reached between the league and the facility regarding ticket sales.
Although the StarCenter houses high school hockey games, Cody Rudnick of the StarCenter said he doesn't expect there to be any conflcits between the high school schedule and the Warriors. High school teams play there on Thursdays and Sundays, he said.
Leading the team behind the bench is Jeff Ramsay, who is no stranger to hockey in the North-Dallas area.
Ramsay, who began coaching in Winnipeg and Toronto before moving to Dallas in 1999, was instrumental in the creation of the Lone Star Wolves travel program in Grapevine Mills.
Hall said Ramsay’s experience in developing players, working in the community and his coaching experience made him the ideal candidate to lead an expansion franchise.
“We have to create some excitement,” Hall said, noting Ramsey’s experience working in the community and gaining support for various programs.
The NA3HL's South Division will compete in a 48-game schedule and will take part of the NA3HL Showcase to be held Nov. 22-25 in Romeoville, Ill.
They will also take part in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament slated for Feb. 16-18, 2014 in Troy, Mich. The winner of the South Division playoffs will join the winners of the three other divisions in the NA3HL for the 2014 Silver Cup Championship Tournament, which will be held March 28-31 in Geneva, Ill.
Hall said the Tier II junior leagues will be wrapping up their tryouts within the next week, and the players that don’t make a Tier II roster will have the opportunity to join a Tier III roster.
He added some players were selected and tendered through a draft process, but expects rosters to round into shape within three weeks.
He said he expects McKinney to open training camp Sep. 1.