Alpena semi-pro hockey team to start play in November

A new semi-professional hockey team is coming to Alpena.

The Alpena North Stars, a single-A semi-pro team will begin play this season at Northern Lights Arena. The team will be part of the new Interstate Hockey League and will be joined by the Battle Creek Cavalry, Bay City Americans, Flint Wolfpack, Oakland Vipers, Hadley Nepessings, Macomb Stags, Muskegon Voyagers, St. Clair Gulls and St. Ignace Grizzlies.

Alpena’s new team brings to fruition a goal for Myles Grix, who will serve as the team’s general manager and goaltender. Grix originally moved to Alpena to play with Alpena Community College’s hockey team in 2017 before it folded and has since focused his efforts on growing hockey locally.

“I moved up here to help build hockey and this is a huge way to do it,” Grix said.

The team won’t take the ice until late this fall, but Grix and team president Cameron Bernicki have been working hard to get things in order since the team’s formation was announced earlier this year.

The duo has been working to secure local sponsors and league-wide sponsors as both of them also work for the IHL.

They also plan to get the North Stars involved in community events including the home matches of the Shipwreck Alley Rollers roller derby team.

“We’re here to play hockey, but we’re here to be part of the community too,” Grix said. “It’s awesome (to see this come together). Alpena has always been a home away from home for me.”

The team’s roster is still coming together and team recently held a small tryout camp, which gave some players a chance to work on small drills. Grix said fans can expect to see a few local names on the roster, but the North Stars could also have players from Iowa, Wisconsin and California among other places.

Grix grew up in White Lake and spent time playing for Rochester College as well as Eastern Michigan. He also spent a season with the Hartland Hounds (later Traverse City Hounds), who played in the Midwest Junior Hockey League and played against the Alpena Street Cats and then later the Alpena Flyers.

“I always knew I would end up in Alpena. Really it’s kind of surreal,” Grix said. “Now I’m here and I can bring the first pro team to Alpena.”

Though the IHL is brand new, its focused on creating a sustainable business model that allows for longevity. The league will be fully funded before the season with each team having an operating budget of $300,000, which will cover payments for equipment, staff, travel and insurance. Door sales will go toward paying players as well as cover a league tax and team bonuses.

Teams will play a 32-game schedule over 20 weeks beginning in November.