Lang an auto dealer when meeting with the Cruz’s from the very first time knew that the two were just the right people to share the organizations vision of keeping Downriver Hockey at the top of the game, and to use Junior hockey as a life developmental tool thru community service and mentorship. The first priority for the Cruz’s was to return the team to the Ice Box (Now the Brownstown Sports Center).
The Cruz’s plan included a branding of the organization with a full identity to Downriver Hockey which was significant in their first season as the teams rosters was made up of 85% downriver residents.
2nd was to create a core values in which all members of the organization would abide to and would become the code in which any member of the Fighting Irish past and present would adopt as their own code.
Third was to create a mentoring program in which Fighting Irish players and staff would share those core values.
Fourth which was the most difficult was for the organization to return to USA Hockey this they felt was necessary to eliminate any doubt of legitimacy of the program and to put the organization more visible in the Landscape of Junior Hockey in the US
“What makes the Cruz’s unique as junior hockey owners is that priority has been their sense of community which is very endearing to Pete and I in addition when adopting our core values they included players from our program that were part of our organization before their ownership”. States Vasquez.
In the Spring of 2015 it was announced that the Irish along with 5 other MWJHL teams would combine with the Minnesota League to become part of the largest Junior Hockey organizations in USA Hockey the United States Premier Hockey League this move which placed the Irish in the 20 team Midwest Division not only opened the Irish up to competition in the Michigan Major Markets but also now offers the Irish exposure in Indiana , Illinois and Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as inter-league play on the entire eastern seaboard.
The team currently is sitting in 3rd place in the Midwest Division and have several home games left for the regular season before playoffs in Late February. Several special community events will be held over the next few months which include Hero’s Day which will be held to benefit the American Cancer Society and honor Cancer Survivors on January 10th. The Teams annual Teddy Bear Toss game for St. Joesph Mercy Hospital will be held January 31st, and Veterans and Armed Forces day which will honor Disabled and American Veterans and Military on February 2oth.
In addition the team will also be participating in an event with league partner and cross town rival Motor City Hawks which is a benefit for Ice Dreams a non-profit organization dedicated to the mentoring of inner city youth in the City of Detroit through sports and community service the game will played outdoors at Detroit’s Clark Park on January 29th
During a recent conversation with team owners Lisa and Mark Cruz it was apparent that the Cruz’s and their staff believe they have a responsibility to carry on a tradition of keeping the game of hockey Community driven that in some way the Irish will be a catalyst for the games stability and continue to be part of downriver Detroit’s well earned identity in the game of hockey on the National Spotlight.
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