It's official: Muskegon joins USHL

It's official.  The USHL is a 16-team league in 2010-11.  From

The United States Hockey League today announced that it will expand to Muskegon, Michigan and a new membership will begin play in the 2010-11 season, bringing the League's total to 16 Member Clubs.

"This is a red-letter day for the USHL," said Commissioner Skip Prince. "Together with USA's Hockey's NTDP team out of Ann Arbor, the entry of Muskegon into the USHL places us squarely in the midst of one of hockey's hotbeds in Michigan, and in front of some of the most knowledgeable fans in the game."

The new Muskegon organization, which will be known as the Muskegon Lumberjacks, will be owned and operated by Blue Ox Hockey and Lou and Josh Mervis. Part of the USHL since the League acquired its exclusive Tier I designation by USA Hockey in 2002, the Mervis family originally operated the USHL Danville (Illinois) Wings. Mervis Industries, the family's principal business, is a leader in manufacturing and recycling of industrial by-product which operates in 12 cities throughout the Midwest.

"We spent a lot of time and effort exploring multiple cities that would be a solid USHL market, but Muskegon clearly established itself as not only the right fit for us, but for the League," said Josh Mervis.

"The city has a rich tradition of hockey and a knowledgeable fan base whose passion and loyalty rivals hockey fans anywhere in North America."

The new Muskegon team will play its home games at L.C. Walker Arena, a multi-purpose facility which seats 5,100 for hockey games. Blue Ox Hockey will also operate L.C. Walker Arena in a joint venture with Jeff and Stacey Patulski, who have managed the building in addition to holding ownership of a hockey organization in Muskegon for the past two seasons. Tim Taylor, a well-respected hockey executive and native of Muskegon, will assume the position of COO of the USHL Lumberjacks.

"The opportunity for the USHL to have strong, committed, experienced local management in Muskegon, a city that has hosted this great game in numerous leagues for fifty years, is a statement by all of us – the League, the city and its great fans, and the Mervis family – that the pinnacle of USA Hockey's development model has a home here," said Commissioner Prince.

Muskegon becomes the second Michigan entry into the USHL, as the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) became a full-time member of the League prior to this season. With the recent addition of the Dubuque (Iowa) Fighting Saints and the expansion to Muskegon, the USHL will have an all-time high of 16 Member Clubs for the 2010-11 season.


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