LACONIA — Nestled in the northern range of the Appalachian Mountains, and situated between three of New England’s largest lakes, the historic town of Laconia is home to the EHL’s New England Wolves.
The Wolves’ home ice is the Merrill Fay Arena. Built by a passionate hockey community on 100 percent donations, the arena was constructed in 1996 and has served home to Junior Hockey for nearly 20 seasons, helping over 200 athletes achieve their NCAA hockey dreams. It boasts a seating capacity of nearly 1,000, with large crowds attending for many of the “community- first” type events that built the arena in the first place.
Whether it be a game to benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society, a local boy battling leukemia, or the annual JBT Benefit Game, the fans in Laconia create a “home ice advantage” for the Wolves throughout New Hampshire’s cold winters.
The scenic surroundings help players train their bodies in ways that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Resistance training on sand at the famous Weirs Beach in Laconia, hiking up a mountain or running the WOW Trail create a unique understanding of the players’ involvement and integration in their community, and the Wolves give back by volunteering over 1,000 man hours to community service projects in the Lakes Region every year.
The New England Wolves have access to tremendous resources, and players enjoy the following amenities:
• Dedicated team locker rooms with seating and lockers for 25.
• Skate sharpening/equipment room/ coaches office/laundry facilities/video classroom
• Gym with stationary bikes, weight machines, free weights and room for 25+ athletes
• New equipment (helmets, gloves, pant shells, practice gear, apparel package)
• Access to transferable college credits at Lakes Region Community College
• Full-time coaching staff, including head and assistant coaches, and an academic advisor/peak performance coach, dedicated to the development of the players’ off-ice academic needs.
Why play in Laconia?
Laconia has had a long history of hockey. The Laconia Lakers were a semi-pro team in the 1960s that toured New England and started the obsession with Hockey in the Lakes Region. The Lakes Region Lakers Youth Hockey Program has been training and developing young athletes for over 40 years, recently winning a New Hampshire state championship at the Mite, Squirt and Pee Wee levels in 2016-17. In fact, many former NHL players and coaches call the Lakes Region of New Hampshire home, including legendary coach Pat Burns who lived in Gilmanton before passing away in 2010.
The Wolves take the approach of building quality over quantity. In addition to our involvement with the Lakers Youth Hockey Program, the amateur hockey-playing community in Laconia is very small (fewer than 200 athletes), yet has seen its players promoted to the national festival, and all across the highest levels of NCAA hockey. The Wolves, utilizing a simple three-team (Split- Midget, EHLP & EHL) structure, players have the opportunity to receive quality on-ice and off-ice training time without cutting corners. The Wolves view every player in their organization as an investment. An investment, that has seen 70 of its athletes in the last five years move on to NCAA hockey.
The New England Wolves Junior Hockey teamshave been training and developing young athletes for more than 40 years. (Courtesy photo)
- Written by Mike Mortensen
- Category: Local Sports
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