Junior hockey -- The Bulls -- coming to Mason City

Junior hockey -- The Bulls -- coming to Mason City

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MASON CITY — The Bulls are coming to town.

The Mason City Bulls will begin play in the NA3 Hockey League in the 2011-12 season at the North Iowa Ice Arena.

The NA3HL announced Friday that its board of governors has accepted the application. The Bulls are owned by Consolidated Sports Holdings USA Inc.

“This is a really exciting time for North Iowa,” Mason City Youth Hockey President Dan Burgmeier said. “We need to get this community turned around and this is a business coming to town.”

Mason City was the home of the North Iowa Huskies of the USHL from 1983-99 and the North Iowa Outlaws from 2005-10.

“We couldn’t be happier to bring hockey back to Mason City — a community that boasts such a rich hockey tradition, especially junior hockey,” league President Mark Franenfeld said.

“Behind an experienced ownership group — one that fosters our league’s mission of development and advancement in addition to working closely with the local youth affiliates, all the pieces are in place for success on and off the ice,” Franenfeld said.

Consolidated Sports also owns the Amarillo (Texas) Bulls and Texas Tornado of the Tier II Junior A NAHL.

“We’re committed to the 3HL and the market of Mason City, said Consolidated Sports Executive Vice President Gary Gelinas.

“With the strong support the community has shown for junior hockey in the past, we’re excited to position ourselves as one of the top markets in the NA3HL,” he said.

The NA3HL season runs from October to March, which is shorter than the NAHL season that the Outlaws played.

“That’s what our lease is,” Burgmeier said. “That takes pressure off the Fair Board. It fits very nicely.”

A problem scheduling North Iowa Fairgrounds ice time for postseason tournament games was one of the reasons the Outlaws left town for Onalaska, Wis.

The NA3HL also recently announced the acceptance of three membership applications from teams in Minnesota to begin play next season: the Granite City Lumberjacks (Sauk Rapids, Minn.), Minnesota Flying Aces (Little Falls, Minn.) and a team from Vadnais Heights, Minn.

A total of 12 teams from six states (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania) competed in the NA3HL during its inaugural 2010-11 season.

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