Wild moving to Texas at expense of Bears

Staff report

The North American Hockey League announced Tuesday that the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild are relocating to Hidalgo, Texas.

The Wild, who have been a member of the NAHL for five seasons, will now be known as the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

Nate Kiel, the general manager of the Kenai River Brown Bears, said the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters have been granted inactive status for the upcoming season.

That leaves just the Brown Bears and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the West Division, which lost the Alaska Avalanche of Palmer and the Dawson Creek (British Columbia) Rage after the 2011-12 season.

“It looks like the West Division will be dissolved for this season,” Kiel said. “We’ll end up playing in another division.”

Kiel said he expects the NAHL to have finished realignment in the next seven to 10 days. He said being in another division will be costlier for the Bears. The travel costs will be greater, and the Bears will have to pay greater subsidies to get teams to travel to Alaska.

“In seven to 10 days, we’ll know what it means competitively and for our business model in terms of what we need to accomplish and what financial challenges we will face,” Kiel said.

While there are new challenges off the ice, Kiel said things are going full steam ahead on the ice, where the Bears won the first two playoff games in franchise history this year.

The Bears will hold their Alaska tryout camp Friday through Sunday at the Subway Center in Anchorage.

Kiel said there are already over 60 enrollees from Alaska and across the Midwest coming to Anchorage for a chance to get drafted and make the main camp for the Bears.

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