NAHL makes ’19-20 return to New Mexico with Ice Wolves
The end of February and start of March brought new beginnings for the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
On Feb. 28, the league announced that the New Mexico Ice Wolves will be joining the Tier II junior circuit for the 2019-20 season.
Then four days later, Phil Fox was named head coach.
The team will be owned by Desert Ice Investment, LLC, an entity owned and operated by Stan Hubbard and will compete in the South Division, playing out of the Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque.
“Part of buying the Outpost Ice Arenas from the founders, Bob and Pat Martin, was to create even more opportunity for hockey and other ice sports for the community,” said Hubbard. “The New Mexico Ice Hockey Foundation (NMICE) has been committed to opportunity, growth and development of youth hockey in Albuquerque under the name New Mexico Ice Wolves for many years. With the introduction of an NAHL team, we have agreed to share the name and work closely together to build more programs and grow the sport of hockey and in skating in general.
“The new team and NMICE are committed to the community and look forward to working with the Albuquerque business community as we engage hockey fans from across the city and state.”
“This is a great addition to the South Division, and we are excited to bring the NAHL to Albuquerque,” said NAHL commissioner and president Mark Frankenfeld. “As the NAHL continues to evolve, the growth of hockey in the South has played a large role in our league’s success and the addition of the New Mexico Ice Wolves continues to solidify the footprint and add another strong community-based team. With the knowledge and backing of Mr. Hubbard, we are confident that the hockey fans in the city of Albuquerque and state New Mexico will be supportive for long-term success of the team.”
Fox can’t wait to get started with the Ice Wolves.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity to coach the New Mexico Ice Wolves,” said Fox. “As a former product of the NAHL, I look forward to continuing the progress of the league by keeping their tradition of developing and moving players on to the next level.”
“With head coach Phil Fox the New Mexico Ice Wolves will be exciting and competitive from the first game,” added Hubbard. “Our players will be led by Phil in their development, both on and off the ice, from his experience and dedication, and Albuquerque will benefit from his love of the game as well as his commitment to the community.”
A native of Stillwater, Minn., Fox played NCAA Division I hockey for Northern Michigan University (then in the CCHA) from 2007-11, followed by three years of professional hockey in the Central Hockey League and one game in the AHL. He also spent time in the USHL and in the NAHL with the Fargo-Moorhead Jets franchise from 2004-06.
Fox has spent the last two seasons behind the bench as head coach of the Ice Wolves Bantam A travel team in addition to serving as vice president of NMICE and director of hockey for Outpost Ice Arenas. Prior to that, Fox spent the 2016-17 season as assistant coach of the Stillwater Ponies high school varsity team and director of player development for the Stillwater Area Hockey Association in Minnesota. Before coaching in Stillwater, Fox spent two years as the director of hockey operations at Northern Michigan.
In addition, more than $2 million in renovations at Outpost Ice Arenas are planned prior to the start of the 2019-20 season.
The NAHL previously had the Santa Fe Roadrunners from 2004-07 and the New Mexico Mustangs in Rio Rancho from 2020-12, while the Western States Hockey League’s New Mexico Renegades played from 2009-14, also in Rio Rancho.
— Matt Mackinder
(April 9, 2019)