CALGARY — After four years in Winnipeg, the Western Hockey League's Ice franchise is moving west.
The team and league announced Friday that the club has been sold and relocated to Wenatchee, Wash. The move received approval of the WHL's board of governors and was effective immediately.
"Unfortunately, multiple attempts by the Ice ownership to construct an arena facility of acceptable WHL standards in Winnipeg, based on the agreed upon timeframes, were unsuccessful, leading to the relocation to Wenatchee," the league said.
"The Western Hockey League would like to thank the Winnipeg Ice fans for their support and the Ice organization for building a highly successful hockey program that we expect will have a great future in Washington State."
The team will operate under the new ownership of David White of the California-based Shoot the Puck Foundation, the WHL said in a release.
The franchise, formerly known as the Kootenay Ice, moved to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., in 2019. The team played at the Wayne Fleming Arena on the University of Manitoba campus.
The Ice reached the WHL final this past season before falling to the Seattle Thunderbirds. The team will now be known as the Wenatchee Wild.
"Despite our success in building the organization, we were unable to confirm our ability to build a new facility in Winnipeg that met the WHL standards on a timeline that was acceptable to the WHL," team governor Greg Fettes said in a Twitter post.
"Unfortunately we were just never able to get the project on solid footing due to the changing landscape (during and post-pandemic). Simply put, we ran out of time."
Wenatchee becomes the sixth U.S.-based WHL team and will join the league's U.S. Division and Western Conference for the 2023-24 season.
Interview requests left with the team and league were not immediately returned.
"The Ice would like to thank the fans, players, staff, billets, community and business partners for their support and engagement with the team," the team said on its website.
"In addition, the Ice express thanks and gratitude to Shaftesbury High School and the University of Manitoba for their partnership over the last four years."
The relocation will allow the WHL to balance its Western and Eastern Conferences with 11 member clubs in each conference starting next season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2023.
The Canadian Press