(Courtesy of the Youngstown SteelHounds) YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO Youngstown SteelHounds General Manager, George Manias, announced today that the SteelHounds and the Cleveland Barons have reached an affiliation agreement for the 2005-06 season. Barons President Michael Lehr and Vice President of Hockey and Business Operations Michael Mudd were also on hand for the announcement made at The Core located downtown at 36 Federal Plaza W.
With this partnership and affiliation with the Cleveland Barons, it further gives our team and our league credibility in the hockey world, said Manias. With its geographic location and the proximity of AHL teams surrounding us, our games will see more AHL and NHL scouts, which in turn helps players on our team and in our league get the chance to move up. In addition, this partnership will help from a marketing standpoint, as we can have some great promotions between our two teams. Since Cleveland is right down the road from us, we can help each other out tremendously with player transactions and marketing opportunities.
The Barons play in the American Hockey League (AHL), the top minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League, and serve as the primary affiliate of the NHLs San Jose Sharks. The Barons are owned and operated by SVS&E, the same company that owns the Sharks. The original Cleveland Barons skated from 1937-72 and still own the most Calder Cup championships (9) of any AHL club. The current version of the Barons began play in the AHL in the fall of 2001 and are about to begin their fifth season. Over the last four season, the Barons have had 25 players dress for the Sharks including Miikka Kiprussoff (currently goaltender for the Calgary Flames), Jonathan Cheechoo (28 goals and 47 points in 2003-04 with San Jose) and Niko Dimitrakos (24 points with Sharks during 2003-04 season).
The Cleveland Barons are very pleased to see hockey continue to grow in the state of Ohio, said Lehr. Youngstown is a great market for us to partner with and we are proud to serve as their AHL affiliate during the Steelhounds inaugural season. Our organizations share common goals and philosophies. We are confident that both Youngstowns and our fans will embrace each others teams.
We are pleased to have an affiliation with the Youngstown Steelhounds for the 2005-06 season, said Mudd. Through my discussions with George Manias and Jean LaForest, it appears that Youngstown is going to be a first-class organization. I look forward to scouting some Central Hockey League games this season. In the past, geography has made it tough to do so.
SteelHounds head coach J F Laforest sees the relationship as a positive for both teams.
Our organization is very fortunate to have a working agreement with the Cleveland Barons. The affiliation with an AHL team presents us with several opportunities that will benefit our organization and our players. The support that Mike Mudd can provide us from a hockey operations standpoint represents a tremendous asset. Access to developmental players, recruitment leads and player movement are all items which will assist us towards our goal of on-ice success.
As a part of the affiliation agreement, the SteelHounds will serve as the premier CHL affiliate of the Barons and will be able to place five players in the Barons training camp which begins September 26th in Cleveland.
The SteelHounds also announced that The Vindicator will be a premier presenting partner for the 2005-06 season joining Completive Edge Sports Medicine as the two groups presenting SteelHounds hockey this fall. As a presenting partner, The Vindicator will be tagged throughout the SteelHounds inaugural season as one of the entities bringing you SteelHounds hockey. They will be branded on SteelHounds print advertisements, television spots and in all radio spots and promotions.
This premiere partnership with the Vindicator gives us a media outlet that can help us touch hundred of thousands of potential fans to educate them on our team, our community outreach programs, ticket and schedule information and about hockey in general, said Manias. The Vindicator gives the SteelHounds the ability to promote our team to the masses each and every day. Together we will offer the entire Mahoning Valley opportunities to get to know the team on both a professional and personal level. I look forward to growing this partnership.
The SteelHounds have already began an extensive marketing campaign with The Vindicator and will be partnered with the paper at selected times during the Canfield Fair beginning on Wednesday. The Vindicator will also place SteelHounds Hockey 101 guides in an upcoming Sunday edition of the publication.
In other announcement made at todays press conference, the SteelHounds introduced flex ticket plans which gives fans the opportunity to purchase season tickets for a portion of the upcoming 32-game schedule. Plans available include half-season (16 games) and 10-game options. The team also announced its group ticketing program discounting regular ticket prices between $2.00-$5.00 depending on seat location and size of group.
The team also introduced its Skate with the Hounds post-game skate party dates. The first chance for fans to take the ice with members of the SteelHounds following a game will be Saturday, November 5th after the Hounds host the Oklahoma City Blazers. Other dates include December 3rd, January 14th, February 4th and March 25th (all Saturdays). Fans are encouraged to bring their own skates, rental skates will be available for $2.00 with a portion of the proceeds going to the SteelHounds Charitable Foundation.
The SteelHounds begin training camp on October 10th and will play their first home game on November 4th when they host the Blazers.
For more information, please visit the Youngstown SteelHounds website