By. J. Thomas McNamara, Sports Editor
Zac Pearson is enthused for the way events have turned out since he took a chance seven years ago to establish hockey in Decatur. Pearson says it’s hard to believe that the Decatur Blaze junior hockey franchise is seven years old. The Blaze Generals Manager and coach informs the Blaze has “found its groove in the Decatur community and the surrounding areas.”
Along the way, he says the fourth-year United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) program has gained an extensive fan following and solid core group of sponsorship partners. “We’re more than just a hockey team – we’re a team and group of guys that the whole town can get behind,” wrote Pearson. “We started out in Bloomington and when we found that was no longer a good fit, we took a chance on moving to Decatur and it has been so great to see the team grow and really become a part of this community. “Yeah, we like to put a good product on the ice, get as many wins as we can and move players on to higher levels, but this team has always had character off the ice and when we have a community event, the boys are always ready to get going and participate. That’s what this is all about,” opined him about the reaction he’s received since bringing the program to Decatur.
“On game days at the Decatur Civic Center, fans consistently fill the seats, many kids with their Decatur youth jerseys. Saturday nights feature live bands at the games and the fan experience at all home games is second to none,” according to Pearson. “Before we made the decision to come here, I was maybe skeptical that junior hockey would work here, but it has been a wonderful time here and we’re only getting started, to be honest,” Pearson said. “All our guys and our staff always look forward to home games because it’s just awesome to look in the stands and see fans with signs supporting the players and the team and kids waiting around after games to get autographs. Decatur is truly a hockey-mad town.”
One of the team’s sponsors, BlueRock Record, recently produced a song and video dedicated to the team and the video can be found on YouTube. “I just want to thank our many supporters that help make this all happen,” said Pearson. “It’s the support that we get from our sponsors that benefits everyone involved and shows what special things can happen when the community comes together for something positive.” The Blaze are back home Nov. 9-11 when they host the Motor City Hockey Club at the Decatur Civic Center. Game times are 5 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 12:15 p.m. Sunday. All games will also be available on www.HockeyTV.com.