New Mexico Ice Wolves
Just a few years ago, the idea of a professional hockey team in New Mexico would have seemed far-fetched. The state, known more for its desert landscapes and southwestern culture, didn’t have a strong tradition or presence in the world of hockey. But all of that changed in 2000, when the New Mexico Ice Wolves were established as an expansion team in the North American Hockey League. Fast forward to today, and the Ice Wolves are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, with a young team full of talent and a passionate fan base backing them every step of the way.
In the world of sports, there are certain teams that seem to have all of the pieces in place for sustained success. These dynasties, as they are called, are characterized by a winning tradition, a strong fan base, and a culture of excellence that permeates every aspect of the team. While the New Mexico Ice Wolves may not yet be a household name in the world of hockey, they are well on their way to establishing themselves as a dynasty in the making.
The Beginning: A Humble Start
As mentioned, the New Mexico Ice Wolves were established in 2000 as an expansion team in the North American Hockey League (HL). The HL is a Tier II junior hockey league, providing a pathway for players ages 16 to 20 to develop their skills and hopefully move on to the next level of hockey, whether it be collegiate or professional. The Ice Wolves joined the South Division of the HL, competing against teams from Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas.
In their early years, the Ice Wolves struggled to find their footing, finishing near the bottom of the division in their first few seasons. But in 2003, everything changed when the team was purchased by a group of local investors with a passion for hockey. They immediately set out to create a winning culture and to establish the Ice Wolves as a premier team in the HL.
A Young Team Full of Talent
One of the key factors in the recent success of the New Mexico Ice Wolves is the team’s roster of talented players. The majority of the players on the team are between the ages of 16 and 20, but don’t let their youth fool you. These young players are determined, skilled, and driven to succeed.
The Ice Wolves have had several players go on to play at the collegiate level, with some even making it to the professional level. In the 2020-2021 season, the team set a new franchise record for college commitments, with 14 players committing to play at the NCAA Division I and Division III levels. This serves as a testament to the quality of players that the Ice Wolves have been able to attract and develop.
A Growing Fan Base
In the world of sports, a team’s success is often accompanied by a growing fan base. This couldn’t be more true for the New Mexico Ice Wolves. In just a few short years, the team has developed a strong and devoted fan base, filled with both passionate locals and transplanted hockey fans hungry for a team to support. The team’s home games are often sold out, with fans donning the team’s signature black and turquoise jerseys and cheering them on from the stands.
But the fan base isn’t just limited to those who can attend the games in person. The Ice Wolves have a strong social media presence, with thousands of followers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. This allows the team to connect with fans from all over the world and to grow their reach beyond just the local community.
A Culture of Excellence
Another key factor in the success of the New Mexico Ice Wolves is the team’s culture of excellence. From the top down, the team is committed to fostering a winning mindset and creating an environment where players can thrive. This starts with the ownership group, who have made it their mission to build a winning team, both on and off the ice.
Head coach and general manager Phil Fox has been with the team since 2018 and has been instrumental in creating a culture of excellence. His coaching style emphasizes hard work, discipline, and dedication, leading the team to its first playoff appearance in 2020. Along with a talented coaching staff and a supportive ownership group, the Ice Wolves have all the pieces in place to continue their success for years to come.