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Minor league hockey will bring Magic to the Valley

| Saturday, June 28, 2014, 10:37 a.m.
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Magic picks in the junior/college draft (from left) are Karak Davis, Nick Cicolini, David Kutzer, Cody Sackman Staves and Wayne David.

There's some Magic coming to Rostraver Township in the fall.

The Southwest Pennsylvania Magic, an “A-minor” league team, will make its Federal Hockey League debut in October, with Rostraver Ice Garden serving as its home arena.

The team will play a 60-game season with 30 home games.

Donn Hoffmann, the team's vice president and general manager, said the league and team ownership are excited to have a team in the region.

“We brought a game to Connellsville last year and the league was really interested in expanding into the region,” Hoffmann said. “We looked into Connellsville, but the building really wasn't up to par for what we needed.

“But the Ice Garden is an old-style rink. We're going to update the building a little bit. The building has great history to it. We want to bring some old-school hockey to the area. It was the aura of the arena that really attracted us to the site.”

Some of the updates to the building will include fresh paint, refurbishing the pro shop and minor renovations.

“We're also going to bring some state-of-the-art technology into the building in terms of cameras, a big screen to have instant replays ... we'll have the ability to scan the crowd. We really want it to be a fan-friendly environment,” Hoffmann added.

Hoffmann will run the day-to-day operations of the team.

Rod Davidson has been hired as coach.

“Coach has experience with four championships under his belt in the major and junior level,” Hoffmann said of Davidson, a native of Ontario, Canada. “He brings great experience and good ties with junior organizations, the ECHL, AHL, and NHL. He has a lot of connections.”

The age range of players on the team is 21 to 35, with the team acquiring properties to provide them with quality housing in the region during the season.

“We'll have a few players and team officials living in the homes,” Hoffmann said. “We're really looking at our team as a family, which is going to include the entire region, not just the Mon Valley.”

Hoffmann said he has been contacted by players from Europe and Canada interested in attending the team's training camp.

The team roster will consist of 11 players from the Watertown (N.Y.) franchise, whose new ownership elected to start from scratch and released most of its roster, five from the junior/college draft and free agents. Hoffmann said he expects nearly 60 players to attend a training camp Aug. 22 to 24.

He said the team is aiming at a roster of 18 active players and five inactives. There will be two goalies and 15 to 16 skaters.

“I'm confident this is a great opportunity for the area. The Mon Valley has gone through so much with the loss of the steel mills, now it's rising again with the oil and gas industry,” Hoffmann said. “We're going to take into account the region's economics with our pricing system. We really want this to be a family affair, for the community and our players.”

The team will have a kids' club with numerous activities planned for local youths and players. Hoffmann vowed the team will reach out to the region's high school teams and youth hockey organizations.

The team held its junior/college draft Wednesday at Redd Dawgs in Rostraver Square.

The team will begin play the third weekend of October. The Federal League will have six teams this season.

One team has yet to be named that will join the Magic, the Dayton (Ohio) Demons, the Danbury (Conn.) Wheelers, the Danville (Ill.) Dashers and the Watertown (N.Y.) Privateers.

“What really drew us here was the opportunity of the untapped market in this region,” Hoffmann said. “We want to bring our family to those in the region and we look forward to providing great opportunities to the families of the Mon Valley and southwestern Pennsylvania.”

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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