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Hockey returns to Wausau this fall

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For the first time since the Wausau Cyclones disbanded more than a decade ago, the city will once again have its own hockey team.

The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) has announced that it has approved the transfer of membership, purchase and relocation of the Chicago Jr. Bulldogs by the REB Enterprise, LLC, ownership group.

The team will be relocated from Romeoville, Illinois to Wausau for the 2017-18 season and will be renamed the Wausau RiverWolves. The Wausau RiverWolves will assume the playing rights to those players that were rostered with the Chicago Jr. Bulldogs during the 2016-17 season, according to the NA3HL.

The REB Enterprise, LLC, ownership group consists of Steve Black and Duncan Woodhull. Black, along with son Bryant Black, also owns the NA3HL’s New Ulm Steel. The Wausau RiverWolves have already begun operations and will play out of Marathon Park in Wausau.

Entering its seventh season in 2016-17, the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), one of 6 USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Junior leagues. The primary mission of the NA3HL, which is managed organizationally by the NAHL, is to provide a structured developmental environment for student-athletes whose youth options are limited but are still reaching their potential and have aspirations of playing in the NAHL or United States Hockey League (USHL) and eventually the NCAA or American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

On Wednesday, the RiverWolves also announced that Tim Brownell has also been named the new head coach of the team.

In a post on the NA3HL website, Black said: “I want to first thank Dan Fiorenza, Bob Stephens and Marathon County for helping make this possible. They worked diligently on making this happen and immediately made us feel like a partner moving forward. We are excited to become a part of the Wausau community, create opportunities for the young men coming to be a part of the RiverWolves and create something that Wausau and everyone involved can be proud of.”

“We want to immediately become a part of the Wausau community.  We feel it is so important to surround ourselves with great players with character, which also includes a great support staff.  We feel we have a group with experience to help lead the RiverWolves and that we have hired an outstanding coach in Tim Brownell to help echo the beliefs that we want to instill. His hard work, determination and professionalism will help set the organization for early success and create a lasting impression for everyone involved,” wrote Duncan Woodhull.

Brownell has spent the past two seasons as the assistant coach for the NA3HL’s Gillette Wild, according to the NA3HL. Brownell started his coaching career in Laramie, Wyoming where he was the Head Coach for the Laramie Outlaw Midget program. In conjunction with coaching the Wild, he also served as the Wyoming Amateur Hockey Association Director of Player Development. Prior to coaching, Brownell played four years of college hockey for Weber State University and earned his degree in Public Relations and Advertising. After graduating from college, he played minor professional hockey for the Toledo Walleye and the August RiverHawks.

“We are very excited to have been able to partner with the group to bring a Junior Hockey team to Wausau,” Dan Fiorenza of Wausau/Marathon County Parks, Recreation, Forestry commented to the NA3HL. “We know we have a great community, this will only add to our quality of life in Marathon County.”

In addition to the 40+ players who advanced to play in the NAHL throughout the season, 32 NA3HL players were either tendered or drafted by NAHL teams during the 2015-16 season, having the most movement to the NAHL out of any Tier III junior league, along while dozens more made NCAA commitments.

Wausau will be part of the NA3HL Central Division, joining the LaCrosse Freeze, the North Iowa Bulls, the Rochester Ice Hawks and the Wisconsin Whalers, a team based in Oregon Wis. The league has 48 teams in eight player divisions.

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