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Indianapolis to be awarded USHL Franchise

by Mike Wallin
April 18, 2004 - United States Hockey League (USHL) - Danville Wings

The city of Indianapolis will have a hockey team to call its’ own with the arrival of the USHL. Paul Skojdt, an Indianapolis resident and hockey enthusiast, purchased the assets of the Indianapolis Ice from Horn Chen and will move the Danville Wings into the Pepsi Coliseum in time for the 2004-2005 season.

Skojdt invited the Ice booster club to Danville, Illinois to watch the Wings play this past Friday night. Roughly fifty Ice fans excepted the offer to get a first hand look at a USHL game and to meet with the new owner and his top brass. After the game, the Indianapolis contingent gathered outside the arena for an impromptu introduction and question and answer session.

The twelve team USHL is the premier hockey league in the United States for players age 16-20. Elite players, all with the dream of one day playing in the National Hockey League, are recruited from North America and Europe to play in the USHL. The young talent lives with families in the community while finishing high school or preparing for college life. They battle on the ice for no money, simply seeking an opportunity to be drafted by an NHL team or landing a scholarship to play NCAA hockey.

Fast skating, hard hitting, intense hockey was the name of the game on Friday night. These players showed the Indy fans in the stands that their league is full of talented, hard-working young men who play with passion and a spirit that is worth the price of admission.

Skojdt promised the Indy faithful, a quality entertaining product each and every night. “We will be known as the Indiana Ice because we want to regionalize our franchise to the entire state,” Skojdt told the Ice fans. “The USHL is the backbone to USA hockey. Each year, more and more NHL draft choices are coming out of this league. The NHL is no longer a league dominated by players from Canada. Players are coming from all over the world and the United States is on the right track in developing players in large part because of the USHL.” Skojdt went on to say.

Joe Hennessy, the former General Manager of the AFL Indiana Firebirds, was introduced by Skojdt as the man that will work alongside current Danville GM and Head Coach Josh Mervis in running the day-to-day operations. The Ice offices will remain at the Indiana Fairgrounds, although they will be unrecognizable after current renovations are completed.

“I come from the Arena Football League, but I am a huge hockey fan,” said Hennessy. “I can guarantee you that the Ice will be a hard working team on and off the Ice. We will be very visible in the community and we realize the importance that the Ice Booster Club will play in the structure of the organization.”

Mervis spoke briefly to the fans after witnessing his current Wings drop a tough 3-2 decision on the ice. “What you can expect to find from these young athletes is a group that plays hard, is filled with a lot of spirit and passion,” said Mervis. “It is our job to make them quality people. I am hard on them. Very demanding and even old fashion. I expect a lot out of them on and off the ice.”

Over the past eight seasons, the Wings have sent over one-hundred players to the NCAA game. Lukas Dora, a former Wing standout, recently helped Denver University win the NCAA Frozen Four title. Ten current Danville players already have college placements, eight of which will begin this Fall.

Skojdt will officially announce the team, staff, mascot and color scheme during a press conference at Conseco Fieldhouse next week.

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