Let me clear the air, about me, the IHL and my disdain for certain areas and organization
Well, I guess I have to write about myself, this is a new experience for me, but I wanted to take some time out of my day to talk to everyone about me and the why/how of how I got here and about myself
First off, I am not a typical entrepreneur, businessman or even hockey player. I have no idea how to make my hair look nice, I wear button up shirts and jeans to every meeting and I am easily identified by my hat, which is always on backwards. I didn't go to college (well okay, I did, for like a week) and I got cut from high school hockey. I 100% run my mouth to much and I have been reminded constantly about not chirping Port Huron and the Fed, and I probably get a little more defensive then I need to be.
Believe me people, I am trying.
But if you know me, You'll be hard pressed to find someone that cares about hockey and people as deeply as I do, I am just a young aggressive guy.
See what I mean? I'm weird. But, to prove I am a good guy, here is a picture of my sister, can't be a bad guy with a sister as cute as that.
I am from a small town to the southwest of Lapeer, Michigan, called Hadley (hence one of our teams being called the Hadley Nepessings). If you have ever seen the movie "The Sandlot", that was my childhood, Baseball all summer and Hockey all winter.
That's where this idea came from.
I was longtime Flint Generals fan and was absolutely devastated when they left after the 2010 season, somehow that lit a fire under me to do something with pro/semi-pro hockey and after I graduated in 2014, I founded the Union Hockey League which began play in 2016.
Boy oh boy, was that a wild time.
We had 6 teams, all playing at one arena and for one year, it was the bomb.
There was a particularly violent and fun rivalry between my team, the Hadley Nepessings and Lapeer Lumberjacks (currently in the IHL as the Flint Wolfpack) we entered our first contest both undefeated at 4-0-0, they hype was real. Although the arena was small, we packed the barn in the middle of the summer, with no marketing, just word of mouth.
It was fast, back and forth affair, at the end of regulation, both teams tallied over 50 shots and the score was stuck at 2-2, naturally being the nat I am, I scored a redirection in overtime to give the Nepps a 3-2 OT victory.
But unfortunately due to me being green In the management field, that was the only season of the Union Hockey League, it really started to get unfun about midseason, the championship game brought us some hope, with the Brandon Vipers (now the Oakland Vipers) upsetting the Wolfpack in the Finals.
I left the league, then down to 4 teams. I strongly regret the way things turned out with the league, I wish I had been better with finances and management, it was a sick little league that could have been so much better.
But with every closed door, another one opens.
Last year I attempted to get the Interstate Hockey League off the ground, then the idea was to form an amateur senior circuit, with players paying around $500-$600 to play, needless to say, it wasn't going to work.
Good hockey players rarely will pay to play.
That brings us to the here and now.
We have really goofed quite a bit to start, remember people, I am 24, there are lessons to learn. Traverse City is a real bummer, I cant say I am happy that we wont have a team there to start and I feel as if they misled us, but I hope they will see what we have to offer and join up next year.
Lapeer was unexpected and it being my home rink, that one hurt more then anything. I truly believe that it would have been our best market, Lapeer is a crazy town full of crazy people, the hockey world would have never seen anything like it. I will always regret not having a team there.
But out of those failures came triumph.
St. Ignace is already rabid about us playing up there and with the Soo coming into the league next year, it will be absolutely bonkers.
Fraser is going to be a special place for the league, with the new videoboards, light system, bar, 12 new suites, new locker rooms and a new sound system just to start, it is going to be a terrific place to watch hockey, we completely copied the United Shores Professional Baseball League's system, 4 teams in 1 building, with focus on the entertainment aspects of it, such as dance teams, intermission games, wide selection of food and drinks, games on every weekend and just an overall fun time for all ages, it will be a spectacular place to watch hockey.
I have confidence in every one of our markets, Alpena, Battle Creek, Flint, Bay City, Holland, Battle Creek, Muskegon, St. Ignace and Fraser.
I am so excited for the Interstate League to kickoff, there is nothing more noble then a person following there dreams, which I am doing to the fullest. I promise you that this will be the ultimate pro hockey league and I hope to see everyone out to a game!
I want to say thanks to our sponsors and our players, this is going to be something legendary and great for hockey and I can't wait till puck drops.
Oh yeah for those of you who don't think a Commissioner should play in his own league, you are right. I am not an terrific hockey player, but if I am going to put all this work into a league, I am certainly going to play.