KALKASKA - The Michigan Independence Hockey League is expanding. Their teams are located in Detroit, Waterford, Gaylord, Muskegon, Port Huron and now Kalkaska.
“We wanted to go somewhere that’s centralized that will be able to bring a good popularity and a good feeling of hockey. Kalkaska has got a great history of hockey with the Rhinos and the K-Stars. And we felt that there was a need for a semi pro team,” Andrew Dibble, owner of the newest MIHL team said.
The team will be named the Kalkaska Battlers.
“I was super involved with the creative process and the team. So it started as just an idea of bringing a team to Kalkaska. And I wanted something that would relate to the town,” Dibble said. “So if you actually do research on the name Battlers with Kalkaska it was a poem written by Ernest Hemingway in the early 1900s, when he was up fishing with his family. So we decided to go with that and go with the Revolutionary War thing.”
Though the team’s inaugural season won’t begin until October, they already have some of the Kalkaska community’s approval. The team has already formed connections with the Kalkaska’s VFW, roller derby, and ice hockey teams.
“Anyone that I’ve talked to in the Kalkaska area is 100% on board and wants to see good hockey up here. So I think they’re ready and I think they need it,” Dibble said.
As the former co-owner of the MIHL’s Gaylord Snow, Dibble knows the semi-pro teams of Northern Michigan are in need of a rivalry.
“I still have lots of good friends and good roots in Gaylord. I want to make it a fun, really good rivalry between Kalkaska and Gaylord because we’re so close. I believe that that’ll be something fun that will really drive up the popularity of hockey in northern Michigan,” he said.
The team is currently working on fielding players locally, as well as from Michigan colleges and the FPHL. Information on the team’s exposure camps are being released Thursday on the their website as well as their Facebook page.
“We encourage anyone if you think you have any sort of inkling or drive to do it to come out, especially to the free camps. Come out, see what you got and see where you can go,” Dibble urged.