“When this project was first presented to me, it really got me thinking of all the advantages that such an affiliation would do for the Bobcats and our hockey community in general if we all put our effort on working towards a common goal, instead of against each other, aside from competing on the ice,” said Filion.
“Combing energy and resources to work together will eliminate many issues that were holding both our programs back in producing even more talent. As a result, Arizona players will be afforded more opportunities to develop and advance their careers.”
Coyotes Ice president Mike O’Hearn is on board with making the transition for the Bobcats a smooth one.
“Integration of all of our hockey programs may be the largest impact we’ll notice at Ice Den Chandler,” said O’Hearn. “We’ve enjoyed robust growth in all our programs since we acquired the Chandler facility in 2014. We place a premium on quality and program diversity, and we’ve prided ourselves on maintaining the balance between the hockey and skating worlds. We viewed this venture in a similar way. We’ve operated a very strong house/development model that mirrors our Scottsdale CDP program under the guidance of Scott Gruber and Gary Ihling. Kenny Corupe has done a wonderful job with our Tier II travel package.
“Given the size of the Scottsdale facility, with its three ice sheets, we were able to shift Kenny’s program from Chandler to Scottsdale to integrate with our Tier II program and support Marc Fritsche’s Elite program. In doing so, we paved the way to invite the Bobcats to Chandler.”
Fritsche said seeing two AAA programs coexist under “one roof” is all a matter of common respect.
“Ron Filion and the Bobcats program have been a worthy adversary of the Jr. Coyotes for almost a decade,” said Fritsche. “The competition has only made both programs that much more competitive. Recently, our Jr. Coyotes proudly watched our 15U Elite team take the bronze medal at the USA Hockey Youth Nationals in Michigan. This is the first time an Arizona-based Tier I team has not only made it through the district playdowns but medaled nationally. We and the Bobcats believe that working in unison, we can further strengthen the overall growth of hockey in Arizona while ensuring greater opportunities for the best players at all age levels to thrive.”
Filion noted that another similarity between the Bobcats and Jr. Coyotes are the common goals organization-wide.
“We want to advance kids to junior and college hockey,” said Filion. “Having two organizations pushing to develop the best players in Arizona will allow them more opportunities to realize their dream. Both our goals are to develop two top Tier I programs – programs built on hard work and respect to represent Arizona well in the country. We have a lot of good players in Arizona and it’s time to get them working together. Every association in the Valley has developed quality players that are ready to play at the next level. The Bobcats have worked with Mission Hockey for many years and Jeremy Goltz has always had the best interest of his players in mind and understands how it works. We all lose players that we are counting on every year, but we can’t stop a kid from moving up. If they do, it means we did a good job and Arizona can be proud.
“It takes time, but each season, we make great strides.”