BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — The Midwest Junior Hockey League will be coming to Traverse City after all.
The league — which almost had a TC entrant in its inaugural season this year — will play a regular-season game at Centre ICE between the Hartland Hounds and the Soo Firehawks.
Centre ICE was supposed to be the home the Traverse City Cohos this season, but the team wasn't able to sign enough players quickly enough and had to go dormant for a year. Owner Scott Gardiner hopes the team will make a comeback next time around.
The game between Hartland and the Soo is set for 7:30 p.m. on March 1.
In the meantime, Gardiner is a part owner of the Hartland team, which is 33-0-1 and leading the 10-team league by 17 points. The Hounds lost their first game of the season Wednesday with a 3-2 overtime setback to the Michigan Ice Dogs.
"We knew it would come to an end at some point," Gardiner said of the win streak. "But our boys are excited to be coming up to play here (in Traverse City) and the Soo is excited because they wanted a team in Traverse City to have a travel partner."
The Firehawks are the MWJHL's second-best team at 23-6-1.
Former Traverse City West forwards Tyler Thirlby and Alex Grizzel are regulars for the Hounds. Thirlby is ninth on the team in scoring with five goals and 11 assists in 29 games, while Grizzel has sox goals and 10 points in just 10 games, joining the team in late November. Former Bay Reps defender and Kalkaska native Scott Luca has seen action in six contests for Hartland since being signed Dec. 14.
The Hounds lost backup goaltender Colin Longeway for the season when the Pinckney native was shot in the foot in a hunting accident. Starting goalie Andrew Brownlee is 22-1 with a 1.91 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.