Above, President Phil DeFranco, left, introduces head coach and general manager Dave Monteiro at Saturday's press conference. At left, VP of Operations Jerry Deno said the team's reception in the city has been positive.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Officials with the Berkshire Black Bears professional hockey team pledged their commitment to the community at a press conference Saturday.
"I am overwhelmed by the reception that the league has been given here in North Adams," Vice President of Operations Jerry Deno said at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink. "This place is fantastic from the mayor down to the last parent, and everyone has been so supportive of the league."
The Black Bears, which have been accepted into the North Atlantic Professional Hockey League, are hoping to make the arena their home rink.
Mayor Richard Alcombright, in a statement Friday, said the city and state Department of Conservation and Recreation are continuing talks with the team and league.
"While both parties are supportive of the concept, the details of how this league will operate and whether it will be allowed in this facility have yet to be finalized," he said. "The city and DCR continue to support this effort and are hopeful it will happen."
President Phil DeFranco stressed the importance the team will place on its community involvement and in youth hockey.
The Black Bears plan to approach local schools with an incentive program for students to read: free game tickets for those who read a specific amount of books a month.
DeFranco added that the team would also like to get involved in the school's physical education programs and introduce a floor hockey league.
"We want to be part of the community, and we want to be in the schools where we will see the kids most of the time," DeFranco said.
Along with the team's involvement in education, DeFranco sees the Black Bears contributing to youth hockey. He told the gathered players and parents from the local youth hockey teams that Bears want to get involved in introductory skating and hockey programs.
"If we could have six teams of kids that want to learn how to play hockey, that would be fantastic," DeFranco said. "We will be an intricate part of the hockey community."
A Black Bears player will be involved with each of the youth teams and they will provide clinics, he said.
DeFranco mentioned specifically a goalie clinic the Black Bears look to hold. The team's coaches and goalies as well as past professional goalies will help younger players hone their skills.
In addition to explaining community involvement, DeFranco introduced the team's head coach and general manager Dave Monteiro during the press conference. Monteiro has coached professional hockey for 13 years.
"I just wanted to say that we are going to put the best quality of players out on the ice, and our goal right now is to be committed to winning," Monteiro said. "We would love to have the fan base of the community to support us, and we are looking forward to having a successful season."
DeFranco said tickets prices would range from $5 to $10, depending on age and packages.
The team will hold its first camp and draft in June.
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