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Out of Hibernation and Into the Wild

Thursday, May 10th
Out of Hibernation and Into the Wild

Minnesota Wild and Houston Aeros to develop top prospects in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Solar Bears partners Jason Siegel, Joe Haleski and Bob Ohrablo joined Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to welcome the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild and the AHL Houston Aeros as affiliates for the Solar Bears as they begin their Out of Hibernation season in October 2012. The announcement was made at RDV Ice Den, the official training and practice site of the Orlando Solar Bears.

Minnesota Sports and Entertainment hockey executive Jim Mill was on hand for the announcement.

“Central Florida has welcomed the Orlando Solar Bears back with open arms and we couldn’t think of a better atmosphere for our players to develop their skills in,” Mill said. “We are excited to welcome Joe, Jason and Bob and the Solar Bears fans into the Wild family.”

Orlando Solar Bears Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner Bob Ohrablo pointed to several reasons that the Solar Bears selected the Wild.

“We want to win,” exclaimed Ohrablo. “We strongly believe that affiliating with the Wild organization will provide us with a solid core of players from which we can build a competitive and exciting team for our fans.”

Mill took over the hockey operations at the Houston Aeros in 2009 and in 2010-11 the Aeros went to the AHL Calder Cup finals. The Aeros went 35-25-16 in 2011-12 and were the only team that had advanced to the final four in 2010-11 to qualify for the playoffs this season.

“This is a major step in building a winning organization here in Orlando,” explained Ohrablo. “We will now focus on securing our general manager/coach and begin to sign players in consultation with our hockey partners in Minnesota/Houston.”

Minnesota had four players with ECHL experience skate in a NHL game this season. Houston recalled a total of 19 players from the ECHL in 2011-12 and they combined to play in 400 games for the Aeros.

“Houston and Minnesota used to be competitors of the IHL Orlando Solar Bears. Now we have all joined together in an effort to bring a championship to our fans in all three markets,” added Mill.

The Orlando Solar Bears begin play in the ECHL at the Amway Center in October, 2012. Ticket plan information is available at: www.orlandosolarbearshockey.com. Full and partial season tickets plans range in price from $225-$1480 per season seat. Click here for ticket plan information.

Orlando Solar Bears merchandise can be purchased online at: http://shop.orlandosolarbearshockey.com/

Jim MillAssistant to the General Manager, Minnesota WildGeneral Manager, Houston Aeros

Jim Mill is in his third season with the Wild as Assistant to the General Manager. He reports to General Manager Chuck Fletcher and helps oversee the day-to-day operations of the Wild’s hockey operations department, assisting with contract negotiations, player development and scouting. Mill also serves as the General Manager of the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Mill helped bring key free agents to the Aeros, including Drew Bagnall, Jed Ortmeyer and Warren Peters, and hired John Torchetti, a Stanley Cup winner with Chicago, to serve as Houston’s Head Coach in 2011-12. The Aeros went 35-25-16 and were the only team that advanced to the final four in 2010-11 to qualify for the playoffs this season.

Last season, Mill rebuilt the Aeros’ coaching staff, hiring Head Coach Mike Yeo and Assistant Coaches Darryl Sydor and Brian Wiseman. That group led Houston to a 46-28-1-5 mark, a Western Conference championship and the team’s second trip ever to the Calder Cup Finals. Yeo and Sydor were hired this past summer to lead the Wild.

Prior to joining the Wild, Mill spent 11 years working for the AHL. He joined the AHL’s hockey operations staff in 1998, was promoted to Vice President in 2001 and was named Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations prior to the 2007-08 season. In addition to personally supervising some 100 games every season, Mill managed all facets of the league’s hockey operations department, including management of the AHL’s officiating program, recruiting, hiring and assigning on-ice officials to supplement those in the National Hockey League officials development program.

Mill also oversaw the league’s disciplinary process for fines and suspensions, and developed and executed the 1,160-game league schedule and coordinated the playoff schedules with all participating teams. He also served as the league secretary to the AHL Board of Governors.

Mill’s tenure in the AHL office came after he served as Assistant Director of Hockey Operations at the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). Prior to joining the league’s front office, Mill served as Assistant Coach and Director of Player/Community Relations for Tallahassee (ECHL) in 1996-97 after completing a four-year career as an ECHL goaltender (1992-96). He also served on the executive board of the Professional Hockey Players’ Association.

The native of Detroit, Mich., grew up in Hartford, Conn., and graduated from St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., where he captained the hockey team and earned MVP honors in 1992.

He and his wife, Cindy, have three daughters, Kyra, Kady and Ashley. The family resides in Eden Prairie.

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