The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the membership application for an NAHL team in the state of New Mexico owned by Desert Ice Investment, LLC, an entity owned and operated by Stan E. Hubbard. The team will be known as the New Mexico Ice Wolves and will compete in the South Division beginning in the 2019-20 season and play out of the Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The NAHL has had a team in the Southern part of the United States since 1999 and the South Division first was formed in 2003. The division currently has six teams competing in the NAHL: Amarillo Bulls (Amarillo, TX), Corpus Christi IceRays (Corpus Christi, TX), Lone Star Brahmas (North Richland Hills, Texas), Odessa Jackalopes (Odessa, TX), Shreveport Mudbugs (Shreveport, LA), and Topeka Pilots (Topeka, KS). The New Mexico Ice Wolves will be the seventh team in the South Division of the NAHL starting in the 2019-20 season.
The NAHL is in the midst of the most opportune times in its 44-year history. In the past five years, 1,300+ NAHL players have made NCAA commitments and 30 more with NAHL ties have been selected in the NHL Draft. In addition, 32% of all freshmen that played NCAA Division I hockey this past season, played in the NAHL. So far during the 2018-19 season, 190 players have made NCAA commitments, 94% of which are NCAA Division I commitments.
"This is a great addition to the South Division and we are excited to bring the NAHL to Albuquerque, New Mexico,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld. “As the NAHL continues to evolve, the growth of hockey in the South has played a large role in our league’s success and the addition of the NM Ice Wolves continues to solidify the footprint and add another strong community-based team. With the knowledge and backing of Mr. Hubbard, we are confident that the hockey fans in the City of Albuquerque and state New Mexico will be supportive for long-term success of the team.”
The New Mexico Ice Wolves will play out of the Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The arena facility was acquired by Mr. Hubbard in mid-August. More than $2 million in renovations are planned prior to the start of the 2019-20 season. The building has bleachers that will be upgraded to provide premium seating, a bar rail in the expansive mezzanine, party rooms on each that will be upgraded for fans and sponsors, and a very unique set of connecting ice tunnels that allow fans to watch from the ice while also public skating in the auxiliary rink. Seating, bar rail, party rooms and restaurant are all evolving in the renovation, as are a new team locker room, team space and offices for the new NAHL team.
“Part of buying the Outpost Ice Arenas from the founders, Bob and Pat Martin, was to create even more opportunity for hockey and other ice sports for the community," said Mr. Hubbard. "The New Mexico Ice Hockey Foundation (NMIce.org) has been committed to opportunity, growth and development of youth hockey in Albuquerque under the name New Mexico Ice Wolves for many years. With the introduction of an NAHL team, we have agreed to share the name and work closely together to build more programs and grow the sport of hockey and in skating in general. The new team and NM Ice are committed to the community and look forward to working with the Albuquerque business community as we engage hockey fans from across the city and state.”
Stan E. Hubbard moved to Albuquerque ten years ago when he and his family relocated the REELZ television network from Los Angeles. The Hubbard family also owns KOB-TV in Albuquerque (which includes KOBF and KOBR, in Farmington and Roswell respectively). Mr. Hubbard, his wife Jennifer and their three boys have been actively involved with the NM Ice youth hockey program since moving to Albuquerque in 2009.
The New Mexico Ice Wolves team is expected to announce additional staff and tryout dates in the upcoming weeks. You can learn more about the New Mexico Ice Wolves on their NAHL Team Page or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. For team media inquiries, please contact Aaron Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org