The ECHL will lose two teams before the 2017-18 season gets underway this fall as the Alaska Aces and Elmira Jackals have both announced that they will be folding following the current season, meanwhile the Missouri Mavericks announced they will be re-naming their team the Kansas City Mavericks.
Alaska’s Aces have played hockey in Anchorage for nearly 30 years, first starting out in the Pacific Southwest Hockey League in 1989 as the Anchorage Aces before moving to the West Coast League in 1995. In 2003 the two coastal leagues merged retaining the ECHL acronym, it was during this merger that the Aces changed their name to Alaska.
“It’s a really difficult decision for us, it’s like losing a family member, ” Aces owner Jerry Mackie said in an interview with NBC’s Anchorage affiliate KTUU. “I’m just numb, as are my partners, having to come to this conclusion. We’d like to think we did a lot of good with the organization in the past 15 years”
Mackie attributed the end of the franchise on the economy in Alaska recently, the NBC article noted that the team had lost more money in 2016-17 than it had in the previous two seasons combined.
The Aces had won three Kelly Cups, the trophy presented to the winner of the ECHL’s playoffs, their most recent coming in 2014.
Also ending their run following this season is the Elmira Jackals, the Buffalo Sabres “AA” affiliate. The Jackals were based out of the tiny town of Elmira, New York, home to fewer than 30,000 people. Like the Aces they began life in another league, starting off in the United Hockey League in 2000 before moving to the ECHL in 2007.
The end of the Jackals has caught locals by surprise, the team had also owned the arena and were having issues with it but instead of finding a new owner for the building they simply decided to kill off the team and keep the arena. Problem solved, I guess.
The Jackals never won the championship in either the UHL or ECHL, they came close twice qualifying for the UHL Final in 2002 and again in 2004.
Finally, the Missouri Mavericks will be known as the Kansas City Mavericks in 2018. The team will still continue to play at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Mo (a suburb of Kansas City).
“Our desire is to unite all fans, no matter where they come from, in the greater Kansas City region.”, Mavericks owner Lamar Hunt, Jr explained. “This name change is reflective of all of the previous professional ice hockey teams who have been proud to call Kansas City their home.”
Along with the announcement the team also introduced the tweaked logo to accompany the name change. It’s a simple swap out of “Missouri” for “Kansas City”.
These changes are in addition to the two new clubs which had previously been announced to join the league next season, the Jacksonville Icemen (previously the Evansville Icemen) and Worcester Railers HC, an expansion club.