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Rochester to get Junior B team

Ice Hawks to make move from LeSueur

By Bob Brown

brown@postbulletin.com

The obituary for the Rochester Mustangs has no more than been written and there's a new hockey team to take its place in town.

Rochester will be the new home of the Minnesota Ice Hawks Junior B team, it was reported on the team's website Tuesday.

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There was no press conference to announce the team's move. Ice Hawks president Michael Fatis announced on the website that a June press conference is planned to formally introduce the team in Rochester.

The Ice Hawks, who have called LeSueur home, will begin play in Rochester, beginning next season. They will play at the Rochester Olmsted Recreation Center, where the Junior A Mustangs of the United States Hockey League played before ceasing operations in March.

The Ice Hawks are one of eight teams in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. The others are the Dubuque Thunderbirds, the St. Paul Lakers, the Iron Range Yellowjackets, the Minnesota Owls, the Northwest Wisconsin Knights, the South Suburban Steers and Shattuck St. Mary's Sabres.

Iron Range won the 2001-2002 MJHL regular season and playoff championships. The Ice Hawks finished seventh during the regular season with an 11-31-5 record and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

The Ice Hawks, who were formed in 1996, averaged less than 200 fans for games last season at the LeSueur Community Center.

Like the Mustangs, the Ice Hawks play a 60-game schedule with their season running from September until April. They expect to play 22 to 25 games at the Rec Center next season.

The Ice Hawks' roster last season included seven players from Minnesota and the remainder from throughout the U.S. Forwards Asham Bell of Austin and Todd Walerak of Hayfield were on the Ice Hawks' roster last season.

Michael Fatis -- a professor of clinical psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato and recently retired from private practice at Riverview Clinic in Mankato -- is the founder of the Ice Hawks and is responsible for administration and team operations.

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Nick Fatis has completed his third season as the Ice Hawks' head coach and assistant general manager.

According to information on the team's website, negotiations to move the Ice Hawks to Rochester began immediately after it was announced that the Mustangs had folded.

The Mustangs averaged only 500 fans per home game last season, playing in the top Junior A league in the United States.

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