FHL Expands to Mentor, OH
Mentor, OH - The Federal Hockey League announced on Monday a second expansion team for the 2018-19 season that will play at Mentor Civic Arena. The team will be called the Mentor Ice Breakers.
The Ice Breakers join Elmira, New York (team name to be announced at press conference next week) as the league’s two expansion franchises, bringing the FHL’s member count to six.
The Ice Breakers will be run by a local majority ownership group comprised of Dan Moon and Chris Bryniarski.
Additionally, Joe Pace, Sr. was announced as the team’s inaugural Head Coach and General Manager. Pace, Sr. has previous coaching experience in the FHL, spending the last 2 seasons as the head coach of the Port Huron Prowlers, where he led the Prowlers to a berth in the championship series in the 2017-18 season. Pace, Sr. also spent time as the Danville Dashers head coach between 2011-2013, and interim head coach of the Dayton Demoltion in 2016. Pace, Sr.’s role as a developer has seen players under his tutelage go on to be high NHL draft picks.
“We are excited to bring family friendly entertainment to the Eastern Cleveland Metro, Lake County, and the City of Mentor. We want to thank William Furman and the City of Mentor for working with us on a fair lease. Our goal is to bring affordable entertainment to Lake County. The beautiful Mentor Ice Arena is a great place to watch hockey and a great family venue. We are looking forward to watching Coach Pace put together an exciting product and bringing some hardware to Northeast Ohio” the ownership group said in a statement.
“I'm obviously very excited to be able to coach in Mentor. This opportunity will be something great. Being able to talk with some of the locals and visiting the area, it's a beautiful town and it is certainly ready for pro hockey” Pace, Sr. said. “It's going to take everyone to get this team ready and be successful right away. The arena, the ownership group, the community, and the local businesses are all on board. Bottom line is we are starting from scratch; it will take time and a lot of hard work. We'll need players who are ready for this challenge. Players who are good citizens, good hockey players, and good teammates.”
In the front office, Iain Duncan will serve a dual role as Assistant General Manager and Assistant Coach. Duncan was a former NHL player for the Winnipeg Jets between 1987-1991, and had a long professional hockey career with various minor league teams after that. Duncan was also named to Bowling Green State University’s “All-Century Team” in 2000.
Mentor will not have to wait long to play its first home game, as the Ice Breakers open the season at home on October 26th, the same day the FHL season begins.
FHL Commissioner Don Kirnan stated: “I believe [the Ice Breakers] will be an excellent opportunity for Ohio and other Midwest players to enter into North American pro hockey. Fans will enjoy the entire experience and at reasonable costs.”
The team will have a color scheme of Pro Silver, Navy Blue, Columbia Blue, and White, and feature a shark logo.
Mentor, Ohio is the largest city in Ohio’s Lake County with a population just under 50,000.
The Ice Breakers become the sixth team set to play in the FHL’s ninth season coming up in 2018-19. They join the Danville Dashers, Watertown Wolves, Port Huron Prowlers, Carolina Thunderbirds, and a team from Elmira, New York that will be named at a future press conference.
More information on the Mentor Ice Breakers can be found online at mentoricebreakers.com, on Facebook (Mentor Ice Breakers), or on Twitter (@FHLIceBreakers).