CHEVY CHASE, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. (“BBSG”) has acquired a franchise in the North American Hockey League (“NAHL”). The team will play out of the Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, Maryland, beginning with the 2018-19 season. The NAHL is an under-21 hockey league with 24 teams focused on advancing players to NCAA Division I hockey programs and professional leagues.
“We are honored to be granted this opportunity by the NAHL,” said Black Bear Sports Group’s CEO and founder, Murry Gunty. “We are thrilled to bring this high level of junior hockey to Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic and are most excited about the fact that our local talent can now stay local and have the chance to advance to play NCAA Division I hockey. It’s a giant opportunity for us and our community.”
The yet-to-be-named team will be based out of the Piney Orchard Ice Arena, the former training center of the NHL’s Washington Capitals. The team will utilize the in-house gym, offices and private locker rooms at the arena. BBSG owns and operates Piney Orchard in partnership with its manager, Bob Weiss. “Youth hockey in the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia region has progressed over the past decade to an elite level where we expect the top players from the area to compete for roster spots against North America’s top prospects,” said Weiss. “NAHL expansion to Maryland brings both a higher level of hockey to the area and a path for our youth players to NCAA hockey.”
The franchise is expected to announce a team name and staff in the upcoming weeks. Tryouts will be held in May in advance of the NAHL’s June draft. Dates and times will be released on their NAHL team page shortly.
The NAHL franchise is the first junior hockey team purchased by BBSG. BBSG owns and operates nine ice rinks across the United States, including two in Maryland. BBSG also operates two elite under-18 youth hockey clubs: Team Maryland AAA (Maryland) and the Mercer Chiefs AAA (New Jersey), which will directly feed the NAHL team.
About Black Bear Sports Group, Inc.
Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. (“BBSG”) is a privately held company formed by Murry Gunty in 2015 that seeks investments in sports and entertainment facilities, teams and youth sports events. Our arenas are clean and professionally managed, and offer world-class recreational offerings. We focus on ice arenas in metropolitan areas with compelling demographics, markets with a National Hockey League club presence and arenas with an existing Tier I or Tier II youth hockey presence . We have the ability to acquire healthy and stable arenas, but also to turn around under-managed or under-performing facilities. BBSG currently owns and operates nine arenas across the United States with a total of 17 sheets of indoor ice, two indoor turf fields, two youth hockey clubs and one junior hockey franchise.
About the North American Hockey League
The NAHL, the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior league boasting 24 teams from across North America, prides itself on the social maturity and skill development of student-athletes ages 16-20 with aspirations of advancing to collegiate and/or professional hockey. So far during the 2017-18 season, 217 players have made NCAA commitments, 90% of which are NCAA Division I commitments. In addition, three NAHL players that played in the league this past season were selected in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.