No, that is not a typo in the headline.
Grand Rapids has a roller hockey team, and former Grand Rapids Griffins goalie Thomas McCollum was selected in the first round of the draft.
We are excited to announced our first pick of the 2020 NRHL DRAFT.
With the second pick in the 2020 NRHL DRAFT, the Grand Rapids Warthogs select Tom McCollum – Goaltender.
Tom currently plays professional ice… https://t.co/dJqCxVOO1q
— Grand Rapids Warthogs (@GRWarthogs) January 19, 2020
McCollum isn’t the only player with local ties involved in the league, as Tyler Spezia, who has played 15 games for the Griffins this season (3-3—6), was drafted by the Port Huron Yeti with the third pick, according to MLive.
The four-team league plans to open the season in May with a 26-game schedule and two playoff rounds that run until August.
The NRHL will complete one draft round per week through Feb. 29.
McCollum, who is currently playing with the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack, told MLive he is interested in playing.
“This could fill the gap when I’m not playing ice hockey. Honestly, Grand Rapids will always have a special place in my heart. Obviously, I grew up in western New York but West Michigan is kind of where I went from a teenager to being an adult. I’ve had some many great experiences and know so many great people from there.”
McCollum, 30, appeared in 263 games with 123 wins as a member of the Griffins from 2009-16, 17-18.
The Detroit Dragons and St. Louis Vipers are the other two teams in the league.
The league started in 2015 and went dormant after two seasons in order to “develop a methodical and strategic plan on how to move forward,” according to NRHL President Matt Wiedenhoeft.
I’m excited to witness hockey during the summer, and while I’m not sure there is much of a market in Grand Rapids for roller hockey, it could be good for players like Spezia, who are looking to get extra playing time during the offseason.
I’m sure NHL/AHL teams won’t exactly be busting down doors looking to sign standout roller hockey players, but more playing time certainly helps for developing skills.