Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rare: Lapeer Loggers (2010-11)

     After the Flint Generals folded, the single-A All-American Hockey League placed a team in nearby Lapeer for the 2010-11 season. The team was called Lapeer Loggers and would play their home games at the Polar Palace. Former General Lorne Knauft was hired as head coach.

2010-11 Regular Season--Loggers vs. Troy

     Expectations were high for the Loggers in their first season. The league was expecting not only Lapeer to get behind the team, but also Flint fans who weren't interested in the NAHL's Michigan Warriors. Loggers ownership even had a deal to bus Flint fans to Loggers games.
     The Loggers got off to a 10-5-1 start, but the crowds were just not big enough to maintain a pro hockey team at any level. The fanbase was simply split between the Loggers and Warriors, and both teams struggled at the gate. By December the team was already cancelling games and not paying rent. The franchise eventually folded after a New Year's Eve loss to Battle Creek. The team would be revived as the travelling "Michigan Moose" as the rest of the AAHL limped to a early finish.
     The AAHL was a total joke, both on and off the ice. The quality of hockey was a huge step back from the Generals, even in that team's darkest days. The teams were made up of castoffs from leagues like the IHL and players that had no chance at making it to a higher level. Off the ice, the league consisted of teams in small rinks and owned by people that simply didn't have the money to run any hockey team at any level. Small rinks, smaller crowds and owners that ran out of money quickly. Teams started dropping like flies by late-December, and the league finished it's season with a laughable "Finals Series" between Battle Creek (easily the strongest on and off the ice) and two teams made up of the leftovers of the folded clubs.
     I attended one Loggers game, an 8-2 loss to the Troy Bruins. It was ugly, pretty much over by the first intermission. Loggers defenseman (and ex-Icehawk) Derek Merlini attempted to goon it up in the third and was immediately kicked out. I would have gone to another game, but they started cancelling games before then. Not worth the risk of buying a ticket, IMO.
     With nearly three years in the books, the crowds clearly have not shown up for either Flint or Port Huron's NAHL teams. I've heard rumors that a Single-A league would immediately step in and place teams in those towns if the Warriors and Falcons folded. If that ever happens, I hope it's not another disaster like the AAHL. Single-A pro hockey, IMO, could work in those towns, but whoever steps in has to have the money to make it work. I have no interest in another All-American Hockey League trainwreck.

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