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Bloomington Thunder joining USHL

The Bloomington Thunder are leaving the SPHL, since the USHL has conditionally approved the proposal to bring an expansion club to Bloomington, Illinois beginning with the 2014-15 season.
BLOOMINGTON, IL - The USHL has conditionally approved the proposal CSH International has made to the United States Hockey League (USHL) to bring an expansion club to Bloomington, Illinois beginning with the 2014-15 season.  The proposal would have the team playing its home games at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in downtown Bloomington, Illinois.
 
“We have long had interest in owning and operating a team in the USHL, and we believe that having a team in Bloomington is a great opportunity for our group,” said Gary Gelinas, President of CSH International.  “We sought out the Bloomington market and specifically for the USHL due to its stability and elite players. The USHL is an outstanding league that has experienced significant growth over the last several years, providing an elite platform for some of the best junior hockey players in the world to pursue their NCAA and NHL dreams.  We want to be a part of that and believe Bloomington is a prime destination to become a part of the USHL.”
 
CSH International has been involved in the sports industry since 1977, owning and operating multiple teams in hockey, baseball, and basketball over that time.  The group also owns and manages golf courses, a facility management firm, and a sports agency located in Dallas, Texas.  Their current junior hockey properties include the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League (WHL), Amarillo Bulls of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), and North Iowa Bulls of the NA3HL. 
 
“Bloomington has developed a tradition of hockey over the last several years that continued this past season with the Bloomington Thunder in the SPHL, and the city has one of the best arenas of its size in the Midwest with the U.S. Cellular Coliseum,” said Gelinas.  “With a passionate fan base, community support, and high-quality facilities, it provides the perfect formula to become a top-quality organization in the USHL.  It takes a special type of community to support a USHL club, and we believe that we have one of those communities right here in Bloomington.”
 
CSH International includes CEO Bill Yuill, a businessman from western Canada that is the Chairman and CEO of The Monarch Corporation, a private investment company, and President Gary Gelinas, who has operated multiple sports properties and has extensive experience in the investment business.  Yuill and Gelinas are also partners in a private equity fund headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. 
 
The formal proposal by CSH International is subject to final review of league documentation by the USHL and its Board of Directors.  Currently with 17 Member Clubs, the USHL has operated as a junior league since 1979 and has been the nation’s only Tier 1 junior hockey league since earning that designation from USA Hockey in 2002.  With a player base in the age range of 16-20 years old, it is the top destination for players with NCAA Division I hockey and NHL aspirations.  Over 300 players that have competed in the USHL during the 2013-14 season have earned NCAA Division I scholarship opportunities.  Multiple players each season are selected in the NHL Draft and over 200 alumni of the League are currently under NHL contract.  Prominent alumni include NHL players David Backes (St. Louis Blues), Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks), Thomas Vanek (Montreal Canadiens), Kyle Okposo (New York Islanders), plus Illinois natives John Moore (New York Rangers) and Tommy Wingels (San Jose Sharks).  
 
The USHL has already announced that the Madison Capitols (Wisconsin) are being added to the League as an expansion club for the 2014-15 season. 
 
 “Having a USHL team in Bloomington would provide fans the opportunity to see the future stars of NCAA and NHL hockey, and this community could leave their stamp on the development of so many elite young players,” said Gelinas.  “We are confident in what our group can bring to the USHL and to the Bloomington community, and we look forward to the final approval process with the USHL. We plan on holding a press conference in the near future to introduce our group, staff and the league.”
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