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The Magician’s Door is Open

By frederick61, 06/27/13, 3:15PM CDT


The Minnesota Magicians open their doors

Wednesday the Minnesota Magicians held a ribbon cutting ceremony announcing their new North American Hockey League team is open for business.  They are inviting Minnesota hockey fans to “come on in”.  The team is led by an enthused management group centered around young guns (to hockey management) who played Minnesota high school hockey in the early 90’s.  Their goal is to provide an opportunity for local junior aged players to further their hockey careers playing what YHH has called “serious hockey” in the North American Hockey League.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Scott Meyer the Magicians new hockey coach introduced some new Magicians.  Meyer was one of those former Minnesota players from the 1990′s having played in the Jefferson program as a peewee and then migrated to White Bear Lake.  He played goalie and his Dad designed his leg pads (they were known as Meyers).  Scott played college hockey for St. Cloud State in the mid-1990’s and played pro hockey for four years.  He coached in the United States Hockey League and at the college level.

Meyer announced their first tendered players, all from Minnesota; Mario Bianchi/Holy Angels (skated four seasons for Holy Angels scoring 183 points including 75 goals), Colin Hernon/Jefferson (skated three seasons for the Jags scoring 92 points including 58 goals), Jordan Moran/Prior Lake (was in the net last season for the Lakers posting a 15-9 record last season with a sparkling GAA of 1.68), and Joey Kleven/Prior Lake (defenseman who skated last season for the Lakers scoring getting 19 points in 27 games).  All attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.  Most of the tendered players had played hockey in the Magicians new home, the Richfield Ice Arena in their youth.  The Richfield Arena is Holy Angels home ice.

For the fans who will be going to see the Magicians play, be advised.  NAHL hockey is not to be confused with “Junior Gold A” hockey.  The NAHL game level is professional and the fan experience far different.  It is a raucous affair with noise and all sorts of things going on around the fan.  The Magician management has lined up a locomotive and a foghorn to celebrate those Magician scores.

Most fans attending Magician games will be immersed in hockey since most seats in the Richfield Arena (capacity 1800) are close to the ice.  There will be no commercial interruptions.  It is a far different atmosphere from pro or major NCAA hockey where the fans are essentially above the fray and isolated.   There will be no need to amplify the hitting and puck clanking noises on the ice, Magician fans will hear that first hand.

For the new NAHL players, they will be placed in a hockey environment on and off the ice that is geared to players maturing and moving on to play college or pro hockey.  Most will have two years in the NAHL to prove their worth.  Some will be traded to teams like the Witchita Falls (Kansas) Wildcats.  So the pressure is on for the players since most will start the 2013-2014 season with no NCAA commitment.

The North American Hockey League is the oldest junior hockey league in the United States and one of only two that operate under the non-pay-to-play model.  This coming season will be the 38th for the NAHL.

The United State Hockey League is the other league and is considered Tier I.  The NAHL is considered Tier II.  The game on the ice is the same, the difference is Tier II players have to pay room and board and pay for their own skates.  Tier I pays the player’s room and board and furnishes the skates.  USHL players usually start the season with college commitments; few NAHL players have college commitments at the start of the season.

During the past 2012-2013 season, over 150 NAHL players (out of 500 total on 24 teams rosters) received NCAA commitments during the season; and last season over 100 NAHL alumi played in the National Hockey League.  Players have been successful and they will be scouted.

This season the NAHL will divide its 24 teams into four six (6) team division.  The Magicians will play in the Midwest Division along with the Coulee Region Chill (suburb of La Crosse Wisconsin), the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (Alaska), Kenai River Brown Bears (south of Anchorage Alaska on the Kenai Pennisula), the Minnesota Wilderness (another new NAHL team out of Cloquet MN), and Wenatchee Wild out of Walla Walla Washington.  They play league games outside their division and though the league’s  final schedule has not been released, the Magician may draw the Corpus Cristi Ice Rays (Texas), the Michigan Warriors, or the Odessa Jackalopes (love that nickname).  So check their schedule if you are planning to go.

The Magician’s open their season at the NAHL Showcase played at the Super Rink in September and as their management explained at the ribbon cutting, they feel that their location in the Richfield will be a draw for some top players in Minnesota and in the world.

YHH covered the NAHL Showcase last year and interviewed a number of the hundreds of scouts at the Showcase.  That story and the Texas Tornadoes game story remains one of our most popular reads on the site.  The Magicians will play three games at the Showcase in Blaine before opening their home season in late September at Richfield.

The Magician’s last tryout will be held in Richfield July 26-28 and has already attracted players from Sweden and other European countries.  The tryout usually consists of a series of games with the Magician’s coach staff evaluating the play.  The tryouts are open to the public.

YHH will cover the Magician’s opening games at Blaine and at Richfield.  The Showcase is always packed with all 24 NAHL teams, Minnesota Elite teams, and other teams playing games at the same time over a 5 day period.  They take advantage of the Super Rink’s eight sheets to put on a show for the scouts and fans.

YHH hopes to see a similiar packed crowd with a lot of noise and fun; sort of the St. Paul Saints version of more professional hockey in the Twin Cities. At the Magicians opening game at the Richfield Arena.

Tickets are on sale and are priced so reasonably that it is cheaper than taking the kids to the movies.  As a bonus, last season, Richfield Arena popcorn was only a dollar.  One thing for certain, the fans attending will not be above the fray but buried in the action on the ice-foghorn, train whistles and all.

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