NAHL approves Austin, Minnesota membership

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that its Board of Governors has accepted the membership for an expansion team in Austin, Minn.

The club, which is owned by Craig Patrick, will begin play in the 2010-11 season and play its home games at Riverside Arena in Austin, Minn.

“This is an exciting day for our league and the great hockey state of Minnesota,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld.  “Austin has been without a junior hockey team for 25 years and we’re eager to resurrect its presence with a committed owner dedicated to developing and exposing the most promising young players in all of North America to the collegiate and professional ranks.”

Patrick has been involved in hockey as a player, coach and parent for much of his life.

“Austin has a great junior hockey tradition in the past and has a bright future ahead,” said Patrick. “We’ll be bringing in strong, experienced coaching, coupled with a exciting off-ice atmosphere, which will create a great experience for the people of Austin and our players.”

“With a strong and successful business background, along with a deep passion for hockey, specifically junior hockey, we’re lucky to have an owner like Craig Patrick become part of the NAHL family,” said Frankenfeld. “His energy and enthusiasm for the sport, along with his unwavering desire to bring a fun, affordable brand of hockey to the Austin community, is unmatched.”

The Austin team is the fourth to call Minnesota home, joining the Albert Lea Thunder, Alexandria Blizzard and the Owatonna Express.

“Austin’s presence is instrumental in terms of strengthening our Central Division footprint and automatically enhances all of our great rivalries throughout the division,” said Frankenfeld.

For more information on the Austin team, visit

The North American Hockey League, the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior A league boasting 24 teams from across the country, prides itself on the social maturity and skill development of student-athletes ages 16-20 with aspirations of advancing to collegiate and/or professional hockey.