WSYHA IceHawks to rebrand as Junior Thunderbirds
Winston-Salem, N.C.— The Carolina Thunderbirds are pleased to announce the rebranding of the Winston-Salem Youth Hockey Association from the WSYHA IceHawks to the Junior Thunderbirds. The name change comes as an opportunity to align the two organizations and further grow the game of hockey in the Triad.
“As a kid, I was able to wear the Junior Monarchs jersey. I remember how special it was to be attached to a pro team,” said Thunderbirds general manager Kelly Curl. “I look forward to our organization being able to share that with the kids of Winston-Salem Youth Hockey.”
The Junior Thunderbirds are a purely volunteer run program with over 200 players on its various teams. The organization fields teams for boys, girls, special needs, and sled hockey players.
“For the past several years, the Thunderbirds have been big supporters of our programs,” said association president Lucas Dargis. “Aligning under the Thunderbirds’ banner is a fantastic opportunity to expand our reach into the community as we continue our mission to make hockey accessible for everyone.”
The organization has always been focused on inclusivity in the sport, paying special attention to growing its girls team. In the last six years, the girls program has exploded from five players to more than 40.
The focus on girls hockey continues with the adoption of the Carolina Lady Thunderbirds name. The Lady Thunderbirds will compete in the inaugural season of the North Carolina Girls Hockey League.
“Thunderbirds GM Kelly Curl and the entire staff understand the importance of growing hockey at the grass roots level so our decision to rebrand to the Jr Thunderbirds was an easy one,”
With support from the Thunderbirds, the sled hockey program has also seen immense growth. 18 new players have joined the sled hockey roster in the past few seasons.
“It just makes sense,” said Thunderbirds owner Barry Soskin. “Both of our organizations are committed to growing hockey in this area. Having these teams compete under the Junior Thunderbirds name is a great step forward in cementing this as a hockey town.”
The Junior Thunderbirds also invest heavily in a “Learn to Play” program, which sees around 75 skaters try the game of hockey for the first time each year.
The organization was established in 1974 by John Clapp as the Winston-Salem Amateur Hockey Association. The team operated under the name “IceHawks” since 1996 to align themselves with the UHL’s Winston-Salem IceHawks. They have called the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex home since the building opened in 1991.
For more information on the Junior Thunderbirds and Lady Thunderbirds, visit their websites: https://www.carolinajuniorthunderbirds.org and https://www.carolinaladythunderbirds.org