Photo Courtesy: Idaho Steelheads
Thursday, May 17, 2012
(Boise, ID) - The ECHL family gained two new members on Thursday when the league announced that the Evansville IceMen and Fort Wayne Komets have been granted expansion memberships into the league.
Both teams will begin play in the ECHL this coming season and both are expected to compete in the Eastern Conference, likely both in the North Division, bringing the total number of new teams joining the league for the 2012-13 season to four.
Along with Evansville and Fort Wayne (both in Indiana), the Orlando Solar Bears and San Francisco Bulls will play this season as well.
Evansville and Fort Wayne are both “expansion” members in the same way that the Idaho Steelheads were back in 2003. The Steelheads had been competing in the now-defunct West Coast Hockey League before joining with several other teams, including the Bakersfield Condors and Alaska Aces, as an ECHL expansion franchise.
Likewise, both Evansville and Fort Wayne played in the Central Hockey League this past season before making the switch to the ECHL. It is the second straight year that the ECHL has gained someone from the CHL. The Colorado Eagles in the Western Conference made a similar jump last season.
Fort Wayne won the CHL championship this spring, defeating Wichita, and led the CHL in average attendance at 7,700 fans per contest. Evansville was fourth in the CHL in average attendance, drawing 4,882 fans per game to the Ford Center.
The ECHL begins its 25th season of play – the third-longest tenured professional hockey league in North America – in October. The Steelheads will release their 72-game schedule soon with season tickets available NOW by calling 208.383.0080 or by visiting www.idahosteelheads.com.