NATHANIEL MATA | STAFF WRITER
The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees are back.
With the ice setting in Hidalgo and two natural geographic rivals chomping at the bit, the first drop of the puck is just days away for the newly formed USACHL.
Friday, RGV hosts the Laredo Bucks, who will ice their first team since the 2012 CHL club moved out of South Texas.
Finalizing the coaching situation was one of the final steps in forming the leadership coalition of the Hidalgo-based hockey club. After its first selection at head coach, John Ollson was relieved of his duties before the season started and assistant coach Kyle Christensen was given the reigns as interim head coach.
That interim label has been replaced with a co-head coach title he’ll share with his father Terry Christensen. The elder Christensen had previously been vice president and director of hockey operations.
“There’s a long tradition of successful hockey in the Rio Grande Valley area and certainly with the Bees,” Terry Christensen said. “The time that I was down there, I was really surprised with how many people knew about the Bees and the support that the Bees have.”
The USACHL is a junior league consisting of young men born between the years 1998-2000, still with college eligibility and hopes of advancing their hockey careers.
The Christensens, Michigan natives, have experience with youth and junior level players. Terry said that they have worked together in the past.
“He’s a big part of our hockey school,” Terry Christensen said. “Which is Christensen hockey program. We’ve coached teams together too. You want to have people around you that are going to have your back. When it comes to this sort of thing, I couldn’t have a better person than my son.”
Terry is set to join the team on the ice this week as they practice. Kyle Christensen is already working with the team on the ice but also in the community to gather fan support and spread the word at local events.
From Palmfest a few weeks ago to the Corn Maze in Donna, to breast cancer awareness walks and haunted houses, the team is making sure they are visible and embedded in the Valley.
“First off, we wouldn’t be here if the community wasn’t part of the game,” Christensen said. “You look at how many little kids are around and they look up to us. We’re role models; we have to hold ourselves to higher standards.”
The four-team USACHL will consist of; the RGV Killer Bees, who will play at State Farm Arena, the Texas Lawmen, also based in the Valley but will play home games at Frio Grande Ice Center on 26th Street and Business 83 in McAllen. Laredo and the Wichita Falls Force round out the league members.
The Bees box office can be reached at (956) 313-1112. Single game tickets start at $8 for seniors, students and military, and $10 to the general public.