Hockey in the desert The New Mexico Ice Wolves

Apr 15, 2024

Hockey in the desert

The New Mexico Ice Wolves

Home to a hockey team in the desert, the Outpost Ice Arena is where the New Mexico Ice Wolves reside – a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in the South Division.

The team was founded in 2019, and since then they have been getting down and dirty competing against nine other teams across the South Division from Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Colorado.

The organization has recruited players from all over, including defenseman Luca Ricci from Montreal, Canada who is amazed at the amount of support the team received when he first arrived in New Mexico.

“The biggest surprise when coming down here to play was the fan’s support,” Ricci said. “You’re in Albuquerque – you don’t expect them to know much about hockey, but you come to the games and there’s hundreds of people and it’s really awesome to have that support from the fans.”

Despite being far from frozen lakes, New Mexico has shown it has what it takes to support a hockey program. The program’s success in player development and helping athletes reach an elite level in hockey speaks for itself. Most players get recruited to play Division I or Division III hockey, with the most recent commit being Michael Schermerhorn to Notre Dame.

Team owner Stanley Hubbard said that multiple Ice Wolves alumni got the chance to compete in this year’s NCAA hockey tournament and is optimistic that we will see more players in future years.

“In the NCAA tournament this year, eight of our former players played in that tournament,” Hubbard said. “Now, none are in the last two games, but eight of them started and we’re going to have more.”

Hubbard has been aiding the organization to grow into one of the most legit programs in the NAHL. He has rigged the Outpost Ice Arena to produce state of the art live broadcast for every home game with 10 different cameras, an entire broadcast room and microphones throughout the facility so no one ever misses any action on the ice.

The team has access to a fully equipped training gym, designed by hockey training physiologist, Jack Blatherwick.

“(Blatherwick) is an old friend and helped us design our hockey gym here right on the property. It’s designed specifically to build strength for speed, specifically for hockey,” Hubbard said.

The Ice Wolves are putting in the effort on the ice to improve their skills, but they’re also putting in work with local charities in Albuquerque to make an impact off the ice.

Throughout the season, the organization has supported organizations like Locker 505 through jersey auctions. Locker 505 helps to provide school clothes for students who live in Bernalillo County.

The organization, Ricci said, puts effort into getting him and his teammates involved with local groups.

“It’s awesome that we’re raising some money for the charities. I think it’s a great way for us as a team to get involved and support what’s happening locally,” Ricci said.

The team has worn limited edition jerseys for holidays and special events including Veteran’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and a special edition jersey in support of Locker 505. After the games, fans were given the opportunity to bid on the worn jerseys with all proceeds going to the designated charities for each occasion.

But Hubbard’s goals go beyond just hockey. He wants to create an ice sports community that helps to grow skating, figure skating, curling, sled hockey and ice hockey. The facility he has built is helping the program take those steps to grow the ice sports community across New Mexico.

Beyond the Ice Wolves, the Outpost Ice Arena is home to sled hockey teams, figure skating, curling and other ice events. The sled hockey team gives disabled individuals the opportunity to try their hand at hockey, and Hubbard encourages anyone that can participate to get involved.

“The best part about playing here is the brotherhoods and the friendships you have with these guys. It’s really awesome to grow with these guys and play together everyday,” Ricci said.

Keep an eye out for the Ice Wolves as they compete in the South Division’s semifinals. This past weekend, they beat the Amarillo Wranglers in a best of three series, 2-1 and 6-3. They advance to the semis this coming weekend.


courtesy of The Daily Lobo