Just hours after being officially eliminated from the NA3HL playoffs this past weekend, the Lockport Express of the NA3HL announced officially that it will no longer call the Cornerstone CFCU Arena in Lockport, New York its home ice.
The Express are moving to the Hyde Park Arena in Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls is located about a half an hour to the West of Lockport.
Lockport General Manager Frank Vecchio, who also took over as head coach midway through the 2016-17 season, stated the following… “The opportunities to grow our program at Hyde Park are tremendous because we will have a youth program as well as rink management that wants to work hand in hand with us so that we can all enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship for years to come. We are very excited for this opportunity. We will most certainly miss the friends we made in Lockport, our sponsors and most of all, our fans. We will be reaching out with exciting and fun ideas to have our fans from Lockport continue to attend our games at Hyde Park,” said Vecchio.
In a letter to the City of Lockport, Mayor Anne McCaffrey, the Grigg-Lewis Foundation and fans, team owner Steve Bueme and general manager Frank Vecchio said the move was strictly a business decision.
“It is with a heavy heart that the Lockport Express bids farewell to the city of Lockport and the fans that have supported us over the past three seasons. The decision to move to the Hyde Park Arena in Niagara Falls was purely a business decision and is not in any way a statement against the wonderful people who call Lockport their home,” the letter said.
“As with most sports teams at our level, the majority of our players and coaches come from other parts of Western New York and, in some cases, other parts of the world. But each and every player and coach who was ever a part of our organization felt the warm welcome that the fans and community of Lockport rolled out at every game. We enjoyed being a part of the community, and we felt proud when we gave back whatever we could through our charity work and through our relationships with local organizations.
“We want to thank all of our sponsors who made our program a success, and without whom much of what we accomplished would have been impossible. We are proud of each and every relationship we created through our work with local businesses, and we appreciate the tremendous effort all of our sponsors gave to our organization.
‘We want to especially thank Mayor Anne McCaffrey for all of her support and the recognition she helped to bring to our organization. We will never forget Lockport Express Day prior to our first league showcase, and we want to thank the mayor for always keeping the lines of communication open whenever we reached out to her.
“We want to extend a warm thank you to the Grigg-Lewis Foundation for their persistence in making sure the arena was completed and helping us to establish our program.
“To our fans we say a heartfelt “thank you.” Each game we were happy to see families and people of all ages coming to the arena to take in some Junior A hockey action. The cheers, chants, and noise from our fans made Cornerstone Arena an intimidating place for opposing teams to play. We know that the community will move forward and continue to make Cornerstone Arena into something Lockport can truly be proud of.
“We enjoyed our time in Lockport. We will never forget the friends we made and the interesting people we met along the way. We wish the city of Lockport nothing but prosperity in the future, and we hope to see some of you at the Hyde Park Arena when we get ready to start up the 2017-18 season.”
The Express were eliminated from the NA3HL postseason on Saturday when the Roc City Royals beat the Syracuse Stampede, 1-0, at the Morrisville State College Complex, southeast of Syracuse.