PRESCOTT VALLEY – Eric Lacroix and Hayne Ellis figure that if they can successfully entertain the tri-city area populace and educate it about hockey, they’ll build a legitimate minor league franchise here on the corner of Florentine Road and Main Street in the heart of Prescott Valley.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Prescott Valley Convention and Events Center Tuesday morning, a venue that will eventually house PV’s own Central Hockey League (CHL) team, the team’s management expressed their optimism for the new organization.
In October 2006, the Prescott Valley Hockey Club will officially begin CHL play for the 2006-07 season at the events center.
“Our goal’s going to be very simple: Once this building’s up, we want to make sure that we bring quality entertainment and professional sports at an affordable price,” Lacroix said. “Second of all, we’re trying to be good neighbors in the community. That’s going to be our motto in the office and for the players.”
The organization analogously equates to a Double-A baseball team, attracting hockey players that aren’t of NHL caliber but are nonetheless still shooting for the upper echelon. As for now, the PV team has no affiliation with an NHL franchise, although it plans to in the near future.
Lacroix co-owns the PV team along with Shawn Fowler, a business executive with the Morgan Stanley brokerage firm. Ellis, with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche the past eight years, will oversee day-to-day operations of the club.
Marco Pietroniro, 35, has been named the PV team’s first head coach in a CHL that will embark on its 14th season of competition Oct. 21.
Ellis said that Lacroix and Pietroniro will hit the road on a regular basis in late October to scout for players in both the professional and collegiate ranks.
Under league rules, neither Lacroix nor Pietroniro will be able to speak with players until the 2005-06 season has concluded.
“They’re going to have computer files full of all the players out there that they want to look at and approach to come and play,” Ellis said. “The majority of the positions that we fill will come from the ability of Eric and Marco to go out and sell the community to those players. And from what we’ve seen of the area, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem at all.”
The CHL, based in Phoenix, is a subsidiary of Global Entertainment Corporation – whose primary interests include sports entertainment and facility development/management in mid-sized communities across North America.
The CHL has led all North American “AA” hockey leagues in average attendance over the past four seasons. In its 13 prior campaigns, the league has averaged 4,293 people into 7,542 contests.
To lure fans into minor league hockey, Lacroix, a former NHL player who is a co-owner and governor of the Prescott Valley Hockey Club, and Ellis, club president, are sponsoring a two-pronged “Name the Team Contest.”
The first phase of the contest will run from now until the end of September, and it invites fans to cast a write-in vote for the team’s identity and nickname. One can vote either via the team’s official web site, www.pvhockey.com, or through the mail at the address listed below.
In early October, the final voting phase commences when the top six selections for the team’s name are placed on www.pvhockey.com – a site that offers fans up-to-date information and the latest on team developments.
Fans will then have two weeks to once again either vote for their favorite team moniker over the Internet or mail their selection to: Prescott Valley Hockey Club, ATTN: Name the Team Contest, P.O. Box 26544, Prescott Valley, AZ 86312-6544.