There is a new game in town, and a new team at the Kay Yeager Coliseum—the Wichita Falls Force Junior Hockey team. Troy Mick is the newly appointed coach and the president of the United States of America Central Hockey League. “I’ve been skating since I was two when my father pushed me around on a frozen lake in Canada, and I have been involved in hockey ever since,” he said.
The team roster has 20 players and they are 17 to 21 years old. They are from all over North American including Canada. The team name was called the Force in honor of Sheppard Air Force Base. “The players here are trying to go to the NCAA to play college hockey. None of them are paid, and they are not professionals,” Troy said.
Troy played junior hockey in Canada and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the National Hockey League for 4 years. “Everything was going great with them, but then I had to have eight knee surgeries, and I realized that that part of my hockey career was over. After 4 years of playing professional hockey, I went into coaching and had good success as a coach. I always say it is the players—The players make the coach, the coach doesn’t make the players,” he said.
“I am proud I have gotten four championship rings right now from what I have done in the past, from coaching to being president and running teams,” Troy said. He coached several teams in Canada, Colorado and in the Western Hockey League. “The whole combination has been really good and my new chapter is being involved with the new league. I have been involved in hockey my whole life, and sometimes I wonder why,” he said with a chuckle. “But, seeing these young men working hard everyday reminds me why. They are not spoon fed. Their dream is to get to the NCAA and get a college scholarship.”
They are housed by hockey loving host families who get a stipend from the league and season tickets. Troy said that the players develop an incredible bond with their hosts. “You know it is quite a transition for these junior hockey players. They work hard and put their heart on the line. They put their bodies on the line every day, body checking, practicing, keeping their academics up, doing promotions in the community, and being involved in families the they have never seen before while living in their houses,” Troy said proudly.
“There are going to be a lot of growing pains this year,” he said. “The biggest thing is that people are patient with us because we want to be here for the long term. The fan support has been overwhelming in the local community. Everyone seems to be really excited.”
“The one thing I love about our league and the team is that everyone who spends money here is helping the economy of Wichita Falls, and I think that is a good thing, especially downtown where revitalization is going on. We are going to have scouts coming in, along with parents, grandparents and girlfriends. They are all going to be spending their money in town, so if we aren’t here, Wichita Falls will lose that economic value.”
“Hockey is back in the Kay Yeager Coliseum where they haven’t had a sports team in a while, and we are trying to make it work here; so hopefully the fans are going to come out and show us that they want to keep hockey here and show support for the team and the downtown. Once we drop the puck people will see that we are here. This is an opportunity for everybody to rally around and say, ‘Yes, Wichita Falls can support this sport team’,” Troy said. “The people here are amazing.”
“We are still looking for corporate sponsors, so if there is anybody in Wichita Falls that wants to their their brand on the boards for the only hockey team in town, contact us,” he added.
There will be 48 games in the season with half of them being home games. Then there are two rounds of playoffs with the season ending in April. Tickets are on sale now. Troy encourages everyone to go to the Wichita Falls Force Facebook page, web page or Twitter account and order them. Public skate and skate with the teams are on their way also.