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Miami club coach takes over New Jamestown Ironmen

May 18 2011 at 10:09 AM
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NAHL approves relocation of Motor City to Jamestown, New York
May 7, 2011

New Jamestown Ironmen head coach Dan Daikawa spent the last four seasons behind the bench of Miami University's club hockey team.
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the relocation of the Motor City Metal Jackets’ membership to Jamestown, N.Y., for the 2011-12 season.

The team, which is owned by a group headed by Kenji Yamada, will be renamed the Jamestown Ironmen and play its home games out of the 2,685-seat James Saving Bank Arena in Jamestown, which is located 75 miles southwest of Buffalo.

“Since he’s been associated with our league, Kenji Yamada has shown a tremendous commitment to the growth and success of the NAHL,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “He and his staff deliver a first-class product, both from a business perspective and in terms of player development, and we’re looking forward to him carrying that winning combination into the Jamestown market for years to come.”

“I’m thankful for the support the NAHL, the arena and the local community has shown for our organization,” said Yamada. “Our relocation is sure to be a positive move for junior hockey in Western New York and the surrounding areas, and it’s our hope to showcase a competitive and entertaining product for both the community and the NAHL.”

“The Lake Chautauqua and Jamestown areas give the team the opportunity to be the premier hockey program in the region,” said Ironmen vice president David Cole. “Western New York has a great hockey tradition and a first-class facility like the Jamestown Saving Bank Ice Arena gives our organization and the NAHL the opportunity to provide hockey players an ideal platform to develop and great entertainment for local fans.”

Dan Daikawa has been named the team’s head coach. He replaces Cole, who served as the organization’s head coach its first two seasons.

The last four years, Daikawa served as the head coach of the Miami University club team of the American Collegiate Hockey Association where he guided the program to four consecutive national tournament appearances.

“With Dan’s experience and professionalism, I expect him to instill a strong work ethic in our team and a high level of player development,” said Yamada. “He’s also a very admirable person to work with, so I strongly believe we can build a competitive team - one that will prove successful on the ice and in the community - among our management, staff and players.”

“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to lead the Ironmen and begin our quest to establish the team as a top NAHL program, on and off the ice,” said Daikawa. “I'd like to thank Ironmen president Kenji Yamada for the trust he's placed in me to pursue this great challenge.”

As a player, Daikawa skated in the United States Hockey League before playing at Miami University from 1991-94. He was named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team his freshman season and was a member of the Redhawks team that advanced to the NCAA tournament in 1992.

After college, Daikawa embarked on a successful playing career in Japan, where he played 11 years in the JIHL and AHL. He was a four-time member of the Japanese National Team, playing on four Pool A World Championship squads, and was a member of the Japanese Olympic Team that competed in the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.

“The NAHL is a great league and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Daikawa added.

Daikawa and his wife, Lori, have three children: Kullan, Makenna and Cooper.

Motor City, which played in suburban Detroit, was a member of the NAHL since the 2008-09 season. It played the 2008-09 season as the Motor City Machine.

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Jamestown becomes home to NAHL team

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May 18 2011, 10:14 AM 

Jamestown becomes home to NAHL team

May 14, 2011

By Rob Tucker - Special to the OBSERVER

For Kenji Yamada, it was love at first sight.

Yamada, owner of the then-Motor City Metal Jackets, was introduced to the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena and the greater Jamestown area by North American Hockey League (NAHL) commissioner Mark Frankenfeld some three years ago and, upon laying eyes on the facility, immediately deemed it his preferred place for relocation.

"To be honest I was introduced to this area and this community by (Frankenfeld) and for a long time we had dreamed of having this type of ice arena as our home arena," Yamada said. "As soon as I saw the (JSBIA) I fell in love with it and I couldn't walk away. I kept telling my staff that this is the place we need, so go make it happen."

He then added, "Finally we made it happen."

On Friday afternoon Yamada and the rest of his management team, including vice president of business affairs David Cole and newly-minted head coach and general manager David Daikawa, announced that the relocation of the Metal Jackets, based in Detroit, is now official and the newest NAHL team will now call the JSBIA and Western New York home.

"This is a great venue and it is going to be a great product," Jamestown mayor Sam Teresi said. "I'm looking forward to many, many years of this wonderful addition to our community and seeing the stars of tomorrow taking the ice today."

The franchise, which has not finished better than fourth in its division since 2009, began as an expansion team in 2005 and was named the Southern Minnesota Express. It has been slowly migrating east ever since. In 2008 it became the Motor City Machine, in 2009 the Motor City Metal Jackets and now, in 2011, Western New York has the Jamestown Ironmen.

The NAHL is the largest Junior A Hockey League in the United States with 28 teams that are located in areas spanning from Jamestown, southwest to Texas and then back up north as far as Alaska. The league is confined to junior players ages 16 to 20, with the expressed goal of developing talent and aiding players in reaching college hockey and beyond. Alumni include familiar names such as Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Patrick Kane and Nathan Gerbe.

The Ironmen, like the Metal Jackets before them, will compete in the North Division and will be the only team in the division based outside of Michigan. According to Yamada and Mike Ferguson, the JSBIA general manager, the move was a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a first-rate facility and also corner the market on talented hockey players from the east.

"This is the area where strategically we want to have a strong presence," Yamada said. "There are a lot of Division III and Division I colleges in the area and there is also pro hockey, so it will provide very strong exposure for our players. We are the only team east of Michigan so we are very interested in developing and seeing the local players as much as possible and provide a high quality product on the ice."

Ferguson echoed those ideas.

"Michigan is, besides New York, one of the most popular hockey communities and hockey states in America, if not the world,'' he said. ''(But it is) a very crowded place. We like to think that we've got a nice stronghold on the market now. Western New York has been known for cranking out NHL players and now we'd like to think that some of that spotlight will be shining on Jamestown because we've got great hockey players in this community and we believe that they can compete at this level. We want to see some local guys in the NHL someday soon."

The NAHL season will run from the beginning of September through the end of March with the playoffs lasting the months of April and May - which totals about 64-68 games per season. All told, area ticket holders and fans can expect 27 total home games taking place on weekends.

With 27 home games scheduled, there remain about 27-30 away games, and with all of the Ironmen's division opponents based in Michigan, the franchise has budgeted for a great deal of travel.

"The North is probably the strongest division in the league," Cole explained. "There is some added travel by our new location but that is just a fact of life at this level. Our league does a very good job of scheduling and we don't see (all the travel) as a negative at all. It is just another opportunity for us to go a little further down the road."

And bus will be the mode of transportation.

"Mainly our games will be within the division with some cross divisional games in St. Louis or Chicago,'' Cole said. ''To those areas we will go by bus and that will be affordable. A cross division game (for example) in the west like Fresno or Alaska, then we may have to fly."

Before any traveling takes place, however, the Ironmen will be looking to fill their roster with the best available players. As such, they have announced tryout camps, the first being at the end of the month - May 27, 28, 29 - with another tryout to be held in mid-June-17, 18, 19. The cost to tryout will be $150 and players can register by calling 484-2624.

"My eyes are wide open," Daikawa said. "I would love to have kids from this area come and try out and they will have just as much opportunity as anybody else to make the team. I want everybody to understand that we're going to give these kids an opportunity to fit into our system because this is a building block for them to go to college. Our goal is to develop these kids, that's what this league is all about."

For those preferring to cheer for the team rather than play, tickets are on sale now at the JSBIA, with individual game tickets starting at $7 for adults and $2 for students, children and seniors, and season tickets starting at $189.

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