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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Green Mountain to play two games in Lewiston

The Federal Hockey League's Green Mountain Rock Crushers are the first professional hockey team in Vermont's history. They are hoping they can plant the seeds for a natural rivalry with a potential franchise in Lewiston.

"Playing in Lewiston is kind of nice because we would be the closest rival team," said Rock Crushers GM Andrew Makal. "It could spark some serious buzz for us and for a (potential) new franchise (in Lewiston)."

It was announced last month that the Federal Hockey League, which is in it's second year of existence, would play 5 games in Lewiston.

"The biggest concern for us is that it did cost us a home game," said Makal. "The travel isn’t terrible, but missing out on a game’s worth of home revenue might be a tough pill to swallow down the road."

Still, it was an opportunity for the FHL to test the waters of the Lewiston pro hockey market, which is still stinging from the loss of the Lewiston Maineiacs over the summer.

"This is indeed a 'trial balloon', as the FHL would love to have an arena like (The Colisee) in our league," said Makal. "The question becomes how willing the market is to support minor professional hockey after having a major junior franchise. If done properly, and we are using a Canadian Hockey League model here in Vermont, I think it can be successful, but that depends on who runs it."

Makal is a realist, and feels if fans temper their expectations, the FHL could have a great run.

"As we don’t try to be something we’re not (compete with the level of play of the Pirates or the Maineiacs), I think it will be fun for the local fan base who are losing out on having a hockey tenant this season with the departure of the Q team," said Makal.

The Federal Hockey League consists of 7 teams. Will Lewiston turn out to be the eighth?


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