This year marks the first year the Milwaukee Power Junior Hockey Team plays its season from the Kettle Moraine Ice Center in West Bend, Wis. This week, Kris Marion joins me to talk about the Milwaukee Power, how they came to West Bend, and what to expect as a fan!
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Fuzz Martin 0:09
Hey here we are. Hello, everybody. Season 2 of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. And you're here with me right now. Thank you. I only took a month off but it felt like an eternity. I'm glad to be back. I hope you had a good August. It's September now. So summer is officially over. And it's time for us to talk about hockey. Specifically, we're talking about the Milwaukee Power which is a junior hockey team. Think minor league that plays in West Bend at the Kettle Moraine Ice Center. Kris Marion is the Vice President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Power. She joins me to talk about how the team ended up coming to West Bend, what to expect when he come to Milwaukee Power game, and what goes into running a minor league hockey team. And with that, here's Kris Marion of the Milwaukee Power on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.
Fuzz Martin 1:11
Kris, thanks for joining me today. So the Milwaukee Power hockey team is new to West Bend. The team plays a category nice center. Can you give me the history of the team and how you guys got here?
Kris Marion 1:20
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. The Milwaukee Power is new to West Bend this year. First season here. We're super excited to be here. We started in Milwaukee five years ago, hence the name Milwaukee Power. In our name. Yep. And we played at Wilson park for two seasons down on the south side. We played there until COVID hit so we got through two seasons and then COVID basically shut down Wilson Park. Okay. So because of all the restrictions, and it being a county facility going into that fall of 2022 County came to us and said we're not opening up sure to everything you need. As far from a playing perspective, no fans allowed all of that it was really going to be impossible to have a season there. Sure. So we kind of scrambled in August of 2020. To find a new home because we were committed to the league. We had players coming in, you know, we had to generate some revenue and sell tickets and things like that. So we found a home at Ozaki center. Okay, maquon, Cedarburg, beautiful facility. It's a two sheet facility, it's actually the home to Concordia University. Okay. That was it was able to accommodate our schedule from both a practice and a game perspective. So it was fantastic. So we moved there. And in that COVID year, season three, we were able to have 25% capacity of fans, which was good, it was great. We were able to have some fans in there. So that was important. I'll be at that pretty much the whole season was monitoring COVID systems and making sure we were still able to keep a team on the ice. Yeah, that was very critical, because some teams were not allowing that. And it was it was a really tricky year, but we got through it. And we stayed there for season four. Again, it's a great facility. Everything was starting to kind of we get we're gonna get a nice wave behind us. But it was about halfway through the it was actually at the beginning of kind of that season four and getting into the season that we formed a very good partnership through our Youth Power Play initiative. Okay, with the Washington County Youth Hockey Association here in West bet. Yeah. So they were the first youth organization to sign on with us, which is a promotion program, excuse me, where our players got very involved with the teams with that youth organization. They came to their practices, they did different skills. You know, our coaches worked with the coaching, staff mentoring and mentoring and partnering and helping out, you know, there's a lot of little ones and Washington County Youth Hockey, so those practices sometimes got to be a lot for those coaches. So having our boys on the ice was not only good for our boys, but it was good for the organization. We did some parent education sessions for the organization kind of on that lead ladder of development within USA Hockey. And then the youth organization brought two of our games in season four to category and Ice Center. Okay, so we want you to play on our bar, and we want you to be here. So we did that we had two games here, and they were a great success. So it was kind of about halfway through the season is when the board came to our staff and said, You know what, we really want you in West Bend. We want you to be our hockey team. We want you in our building. It's a great resource. It's a wonderful partnership. And so you know, like I said, we loved Ozaki, it was great, but kind of the more we thought about it and having this really good support system in partnership with us. And then moving to West Bend, which is a phenomenal hockey town. Great hockey town. It's a great Junior demographic here. We decided it was the right move for us.
Fuzz Martin 4:39
Sure. So we recruited to you so good.
Kris Marion 4:43
Yes, you guys you did was recruited us. And it's been a little bit of a challenge because five C's This is season five. We're starting okay. And this has been our third move. Yeah, we needed a home we want to solidify. We want our roots here now. We have now signed a long term lease agreement with calamari and ice center that we are still In here, that's going to be our permanent home. No more moves. Yeah, yes. We still have Milwaukee in the name we are we have some plans underway behind the scenes that you know, it possibly rebrand. But yeah, we are here to stay. So it was a little bit of a path. It was kind of a little bit of a journey to get here. But now we know we're here and we're here to stay.
Fuzz Martin 5:18
Well, I think with the Milwaukee name, though, to you, so the league that you're in so it's the North America is a three HL is the three HL correct and, but you're playing a lot of teams that are with big names, cities and things like that. Anyway, like we're talking to Atlanta and I can't even remember, they're like 34.
Kris Marion 5:33
Across the country, our league itself has 34 teams, okay? They all have different divisions. There's a West Division, there's an East there's a south, we are the Central Division, okay? Which, in my opinion, is the toughest division in the league. We have some very good teams in our in our division here in Wisconsin, we have Wausau, okay, cyclones, we have the Oregon tradesmen which Oregon right outside of Madison, and now West Bend the Milwaukee Power. And then we also have St. Louis, Missouri. Sure, you are Yeah, Illinois, Rochester, Minnesota. Yeah. So that makes up our division.
Fuzz Martin 6:05
So the name West Bend wouldn't be as well known to the rest of hey, that's
Kris Marion 6:09
kind of was part of our thought process behind getting here first. Sure, you know,
Fuzz Martin 6:14
sure. Well, I think it's gotta be good for you to now to have that more permanent home, the start building the fan base, right. So that people know when to come and see the games. And speaking of that, your first game so this is starting to air on September 6. Your first games are starting in Peoria. Right?
Kris Marion 6:31
We will be on the road to start the season. The ninth and 10th is our first weekend. And we are facing a very, very tough Peoria, Peoria team on the road.
Fuzz Martin 6:40
And then your first home game is home matches on the 23rd. Right, and that's also against Peoria.
Kris Marion 6:45
It is September 23 24th is our home opener here in West Bend at Kettle Moraine Ice Center. Both games are at 7:30. Okay, that Friday night game is kind of that home opening tailgate or opening up some tailgating and some fun before that Saturday night game is very popular in it because it's skate with the Power. Okay, so that's where fans can come on. They can bring their skates, they can get skates at the rink. And then once the game is done for an hour, but on your skates, slice them up, get out for kids and adults alike can go skate with this with the team after so that's going to be a really exciting first weekend here as we officially kick off that kind of marine.
Fuzz Martin 7:20
Awesome. Let's go back and talk about the league for a moment is can you kind of explain the level of the League of the North America three HL league where that is you know, obviously it's not NHL, but what's how does that all work? Yeah, so
Kris Marion 7:32
this is junior hockey. And a lot of people really aren't quite familiar with that because hockey, unlike traditional sports of football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, they don't players don't go right from high school to college. They play junior hockey. So if you see collegiate hockey players that have made it there, they've come through the junior ranks, okay, so junior hockey is made up of players 16 to 20 years old. And then they're kind of tiered based on tier one, tier two, tier three, all the same, same ages are all looking to do the same thing, which is go on and play collegiately and beyond. Okay, so we are the NA three. So there's three tiers were the three, tier two tier, the tier two League, excuse me is the NHL. And then Tier one is the USHL. Okay, so it's, again, all the same concept of junior hockey, it's just kind of similar to that triple A double a single a ball.
Fuzz Martin 8:22
Sure. And then after collegiate is that when they go to like the Admirals level,
Kris Marion 8:26
okay, so this step is just again, it's a step in their journey. It goes from either AAA youth High School, wherever they're coming through, then they go into that junior timeframe, kind of that ladder of development. And from there, we want to springboard them on to collegiate opportunities, which then open up. Yes, obviously beyond that. Well, that's
Fuzz Martin 8:47
awesome. And it's great to have that right here in West Bend at the Kettle Moraine Ice Center. So you have players that are not just from Wisconsin, that right? They come from all over the place.
Kris Marion 8:54
Correct? Correct. We have a handful of local players. And that's kind of what we're looking to really have that opportunity here for our local players. But we have kids, players, I shouldn't say kids. We have young men from all over the country. This season. We have aliens, we have one from Florida, one from Utah, one from Arizona. And then obviously, we can really pull kind of from the heavy from the Midwest, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, and then Wisconsin as well. So but yeah, they are from all over. So they come here, and they basically pick up and move. And they'll live with host families which in hockey, we call billet families. So they will basically it's families that are looking to open up their homes and take in a hockey player for six months out of the year. And they'll live with our billet families, and then live here play here for the season.
Fuzz Martin 9:39
Now I can understand some Canadian TV TV shows that I watch a little bit better when I know that word for some of the players that you have on the Milwaukee Power that we should look out for this year.
Kris Marion 9:47
Yeah, we have a handful. We have a handful of returners, which is which is good and we really have some high end rookies, we'll call them the first first year junior players that we're looking out for and I actually tapped into our coaching staff to say can I A lot of our top players I'm handle I handle the business side the watch the guys but actually Max are stead he is a returner. This will be his last year, juniors. He's been with the power for two seasons already. We are expecting very big things from him on the offensive end. Okay, big time scoring. He's a he's a big kid, very skilled and we're expecting him to win, especially with his experience in the league to really take that leadership role. We have a good a couple good rookies Keegan Ruta Bush, Berta Bush, from Minnesota, Gavin Reid. He's a local kid on the offensive side, looking for very high end things for a couple of those kids in our Captain Mike Daly. Again, another season veteran that's returning on the offensive side. Just a really good what a phenomenal role model, but he's also really good on the eyesore, expecting big things from him. Awesome.Fuzz Martin:
And if you go to it's mkepower.com, right? Correct. Check out the whole team and see us there. Yes,Kris Marion:
we just, we will have them loaded shortly. We just took our headshots this week during training camp. That's where you'll find anything. Yeah, anything about our players in the league actually updates the player side of things. So each game the stats get loaded, so you can kind of see who's wearing that, you know, those who scoring goals and whatnot.Fuzz Martin:
Yeah, yeah. On the website. I went to the website and then also went through the league's website, I was very impressed by like, just how well put together and how much information is on those. Yeah, it'sKris Marion:
right. I mean, this is it is a business. It's junior hockey, but it says run like a you know, like a minor league. Right organization.Fuzz Martin:
Yeah, certainly I liken it to like the, the Lakeshore Canucks and that kind of correctKris Marion:
people. A lot of people can relate us to them. Yeah, same concept where kids kind of come from all over to play right. Kind of that minor league fun, we're looking to bring that experience as well. And that shucks, if you've been to any of the any of the minor league games, or admirals, games, even that's a professional level, right? It's the same kind of entertainment we're looking to bring to our games here.Fuzz Martin:
Yeah, lots of fun, energetic, alright, fans that are you know, gung ho for the team andKris Marion:
a lot of fan interaction, you know, an intermission activities, always stuff to do so. Yeah, it's gonna be a really, really good time.Fuzz Martin:
Yeah, super fun for the kids and all that I'm looking forward to catching some matches here this year. Is it matches or games, games games? Match? Yeah, it's games. I am hockey them, but I'm trying to get smarter.Kris Marion:
You will be now you probably knowFuzz Martin:
what, what goes into when you're talking about this. It is a business what goes into running a hockey team, you know,Kris Marion:
it is it's a business, it's a lot. It's, you know, every we've kind of operate on two sides of the, of the business. Whereas business operations were really, that is where everything outside of hockey falls, our hockey side of things is basically our coaching staff, our general manager, hockey operations, and that really focuses on that side of the business focuses on first of all, recruiting players, getting them here, getting them on the ice, and then making that product be the best it can be on the ice. So the coaching side of things, the development side of things, and then everything else really falls on the business side of things. So again, we're a for profit business. So we need to like any other sports and we need to sell tickets, we need to generate revenue, we need sponsors, you know, so that all falls under the business side of things and other things that fall under there's our players have to have meals, our players have to have transportation to and from games, you know, right now, a big part of what we're doing on the business side of things is community service and community involvement. Because our players, when they come here, not only do we want to develop them really good hockey player, so they can go play collegiately is we want to develop the human Yeah, we want them to become really good humans. So community service is a really big part of that. So coming into this new community of West Bend, you know, it's very, very important for us to give back. Sure. And let the community learn who our guys are, you know, and see them out and about. So really anything outside of putting those players on the ice and having them play the game, and the hockey side of things, everything else falls on the side. Sure,Fuzz Martin:
sure. And it's uh, you know, important to to get to recruiting good players and things likeKris Marion:
that a product we put on the ice that makes it more attractive to kids coming in. That's part of kind of this whole process of, again, the three moves in five years and educating people about what junior hockey is. Because it's a little bit of a challenge for us right now in building our brand building our reputation because previously, there wasn't junior hockey in this area anywhere in southeastern Wisconsin. So it's educating even hockey people that you know, you have junior hockey here. Now, the Power is that you were a top class or a first class organization. We run it well, we do things right here. Yeah, we are moving our players on to the collegiate ranks, we've signing them. They're moving on, we're doing what we need to do. And now that's the opportunity for kids all over the country. But yeah, even our local kids. Yeah. So it's exciting. It's good, but that's just part of the whole the process of kind of building that that brand and building that education based on letting people see us get to our games. We're opening up practices right now for the community because, well, I'm gonna check us out because sometimes when you hear junior people spines go right to little kids, small, small ones. And that's really not what we are. Some people may confuse us with an admirals type level or the bombers or whoever might be, you know. So it's good. It's just kind of letting people see who we are what we're all about.Fuzz Martin:
If I ask, did you, how did you get involved? Did you have kids? They were in hockey.Kris Marion:
I did. Yeah, my boys both played, my girls never played and actually Chase Ernst, who is our president and CEO of the marquee Power and local hockey partners, which is our ownership group. He actually coached my boys. Okay, when they played triple A and here, yes, so he was a coach, and he is a St. Louis product. He moved up to Milwaukee with the intention. He was working for a triple eight marquee Junior admirals at AAA organization. But his intention was really to get that junior hockey here, bring it to southeastern Wisconsin. Sure. So he started the team, and then kind of a couple years into it as it was growing and there was, you know, more, more of everything to do. That's when I became involved.Fuzz Martin:
Gotcha. Okay, perfect. So, again, first game of the season is in Peoria, with the first home games are coming up on the 23rd of September 24. Correct. How can people get tickets to the game? Yeah,Kris Marion:
we would suggest go online, mkepower.com. And you can buy, we have general admission tickets. So if you just want to get in the door general admission tickets, all tickets are going to save some money if you do it online, in advance, prior to game day. We also have an all inclusive beverage ticket, which is like kind of the hottest thing in town. It's 25 in advance 30 Game Day where you get in the door and then you also get five adult beverages nice to go back. And we got to have an area for those people that buy those inclusive tickets. We have Season Passes. So you can buy a family season pass, you can buy an individual Season Pass. And then we are this year doing really focusing on group sales, because culinary is a great barn. And we have an area in the rink where fans can get right down on the glass. Oh, cool. So that's going to be available for groups to rent for corporate events, birthday parties, bachelor parties, whatever you want to do there and you can kind of have that corner right on the glass right by the benches. It's gonna be a lot of fun.Fuzz Martin:
Awesome. And that's mkepower.com To do that, no. If some if somebody wants to get involved with the team, you guys need volunteers or their sponsorship officers.Kris Marion:
Yes. sponsorship of course. Like I said, that's really really important because we you know, obviously we have to run our business. Yeah. So sponsorships, we start our sponsorships at a very reasonable start at $250. Okay, and can go up from there we have you know, gameday sponsorships we have in rink branding. So if someone wants to get their name in front of not just power fans, but everybody that comes through Kettle Moraine Ice Center throughout the year, we have opportunities for that. Volunteers we love we would love anybody that wants to be part of the action volunteers obviously getting free to our games. But I'm a game day staff we're looking for people to help with, you know, merchandise sales and ticket sales. And you know, we want to sit in the penalty box and open the door for the players when they get a penalty. We have those opportunities available. So we'd love to have community involved in that it's fun for the fun for the community, but it's also fun for the players. And we are also still open looking for billets. Okay, we have enough beds right now, when all of our players came into town, some of them are a little farther away than we like, Okay, we really want all of the bullets to kind of be within the radius of Washington County and in West Bend. So billets is another way for families to get involved. Billet families get in free, okay. They also receive a stipend each month of $400 a player Oh, really. So they it helps offset food costs, basically. But yeah, we are still looking for billet families. And we were always well, because kind of through the season as as the players move up or down or trades could possibly get made or players that that and tier two level might, you know, come down to the tier three level for a little bit or move up and down. Even throughout the season. We'll be looking for additional families.Fuzz Martin:
Sure. And that season goes from September through March.Kris Marion:
Regular season goes through early March and then the playoffs starts. Okay. We will be it will be in the playoffs. AllFuzz Martin:
right. We're looking forward to it. We're looking forward to it. Chris Marion with the Milwaukee Power. Good luck this season. And thanks so much for coming on the show.Kris Marion:
Oh, thanks for having me.Kris Marion:
Thank you again to Chris Marion at the Milwaukee Power for joining me on this week's podcast. You can go catch game soon. It tickets at mkepower.com Go Power. And thank you for listening to 15 minutes with fuzz. We're looking forward to a great season. If you like the show, please subscribe on your podcast player whether that's Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you prefer to listen your podcasts. Go there. smash that subscribe button. Lame. Also, if you really liked the show and you want to support it, consider sponsoring the show you can email me 15 with firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss what's available there again 15 spelled out FY f t e n with email@example.com New episodes come on every Monday. Thanks for listening and we'll talk to you again next week right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz
Transcribed by https://otter.ai