Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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State of Hockey loses team to South Dakota

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Sports Updated: April 23, 2012 - 4:43 PM

The North American Hockey League's board of governors has approved the move of the Alexandria (Minn.) Blizzard to Brookings, S.D., for the 2012-13 season.

The team will still be nicknamed the Blizzard in Brookings and play in the NAHL's Central Division. The Brookings Blizzard will play their home games at the Larson Ice Center, which was built in 2002 and seats 2,000 in its main rink. It also has a second rink.

"Chris and Mitri Canavati have been fantastic and committed owners in our league for over seven years in the Alexandria market," NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld said in an NAHL news release, "and the relocation of the Blizzard NAHL franchise to Brookings allows them the bet opportunity for success with the NAHl financial model.

"The Brookings, South Dakota market fits nicely into our Central Division footprint and is an exciting addition to our league, given our already strong presence i the Dakotas and the community's passion and support for hockey."

Chris Canavati said he would keep the Alexandria team in the North American 3 Hockey League, an 18-team USA Hockey Tier III sanctioned junior league. That league has four other teams in Minnesota and one in northern Iowa.

Doc DelCastillo will remain the NAHL Blizzard's coach. "We'll get up and down the ice and we'll play physical," DelCastillo said. "This is going to be a tough ticket to get."

The NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey league in the U.S. with 28 teams in 14 states. More than 140 NAHL players in 2010-11 committed to NCAA schools.

ATTENDANCE RECORDS SET

The NAHL, with a record 28 teams this season, set attendance records for most fans with 1,128,098, and average attendance per game, 1,342.

The Austin Bruins in southeast Minnesota were one of the NAHL's success stories. The Bruins shattered their single-game attendance record (1,989) this season with their annual Pink in the Rink game and they increased their average attendance over 25 percent this year to over 1,000 fans per game.

“Being a part of the Austin community is everything to the Bruins and ultimately we feel like it is the community’s team, not an individual’s,” said Craig Patrick, governor/owner of the Bruins. “We made over 100 school visits this season and those kids they talk to and see at the schools then identify with the players and want to see them at the games.”


TEAM                     TOTAL      GAMES      AVERAGE
Fresno                  106,718    30               3,557
Corpus Christi       91,678    30               3,055
Wenatchee             90,855    30               3,028
Odessa                   86,413    30               2,880
Amarillo                  68,754     30               2,291
Fairbanks               64,044     30              2,134
Topeka                    63,876     30              2,129
Wichita Falls          61,150     30              2,038
Texas                      55,029      30              1,834
Aberdeen               38,405      30              1,280
Bismarck               35,794      30              1,193
Austin                     30,653      30              1,021
Dawson Creek     30,306      30              1,010
Minot                       28,861     30                  962
Springfield             27,497     30                 916
Alexandria             25,995      30                866
Chicago                 25,665      30                855
Kenai River           23,492      30                 783
Janesville              22,748      30                758
New Mexico          21,655      30                 721
Port Huron            21,465      30                 715
Michigan                20,077     30                 669
Coulee Region     19,786     30                 659
Jamestown           19,460     30                 648
St. Louis                15,825     30                 527
Traverse City        13,224     30                 440
Alaska                    11,630     30                387
Kalamazoo              7,043     30                234

TOTALS:           1,128,098   840             1,342

ETC.

* David Backes, a forward for Minnesota State Mankato from 2003-06, is one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy given to the top defensive forward in the NHL. Backes, in his fifth NHL season, had 24 goals and 30 assists for 54 points this past season for the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues are playing the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference semifinals.

The other finalists are Patrice Bergeron of Boston and Pavel Datsyuk of Detroit. Backes, of Blaine, played for Spring Lake Park High School.

* WCHA teams were 51-33-8 in non-conference-member teams:

13-1-0 (.929) vs the Atlantic Hockey Association

8-2-0 (.800) vs Alabama Huntsville

11-5-4 (.650) vs the ECAC

7-9-3 (.472) vs Hockey East

(12-16-1 (.431) vs the CCHA

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