• Jeff Nygaard

WSHL Steamboat Franchise Folds

Updated: Jan 13

The Western States Hockey League's Steamboat Wranglers have ceased operations, effective immediately, according to a post on their Facebook page tonight at approximately 7:20pm Eastern time.

The post read:

It is with great regret that the ownership group of the Steamboat Wranglers have announced that the team will not continue. The last home game for the Steamboat Wranglers was today.

The pay-to-play hockey model struggles to work in a town the size of Steamboat Springs. Recruitment of players has also been extremely challenging with the recent increase in the number of Junior Hockey teams in the United States.

Ownership has decided that an immediate termination of the season will give the players who are committed to the game an opportunity to continue their season elsewhere. The Wrangler organization will help in any way with the relocation for those players who wish to continue playing hockey at the Junior Hockey level.

The Steamboat Wrangler organization would like to thank the Steamboat Springs community, our sponsors and supporters, all billet families, the rink staff at Howelsen Ice Complex, the Western States Hockey League, Steamboat Springs School District, all past and present Wrangler players and their families, our fabulous fans, and all of the dedicated Wrangler employees who worked so hard to bring a higher level of hockey to the Steamboat Springs community.

We are extremely emotional and regretful that we cannot keep the Wranglers in Steamboat Springs.

Respectfully, Steamboat Wranglers Ownership

The Wranglers had lost all 19 of their games so far this season, including today's 5-4 home loss to the Wichita Jr. Thunder. Their goal differential was a league worst -164.

Steamboat joined the WSHL in 2018 after the ill-fated Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League folded. The Wranglers played two seasons in the RMJHL, winning the league championship in 2017-18.

Jeff Nygaard is the editor of The Junior Hockey Podcast. He covers Junior and college-bound hockey as a traditional “beat,” in addition to breaking news stories during the course of the year

He has a vast amount of experience on the business and organizational side of the sport as a former owner-operator of two Junior organizations two youth clubs and having served as executive director or commissioner of the Eastern Hockey League and the United States Premier Hockey League.

A Fergus Falls, Minn., native, Nygaard grew up playing for the Fergus Falls Youth Hockey Association, Fergus Falls High School, Fergus Falls Community College and North Dakota State University programs. He can be reached at info@juniorhockeyhub.com for questions, story ideas and anonymous tips.

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