IHL folds; AHL absorbs Moose

After 56 years of on-ice action, the final buzzer has sounded on the International Hockey League.

"It is with great sadness that I make this announcement," IHL president and CEO Douglas Moss said in a statement.

"With the landscape of minor-league hockey continuing to evolve, the league's board of governors determined that this was a necessary decision," he added.

Although the dissolution effective date is October 1, 2001, the IHL will begin winding up its affairs immediately.

Established in 1945, the IHL grew from four original teams to 11 squads, including the Manitoba Moose, the Detroit Vipers and the 2001 Turner Cup champions, the Orlando Solar Bears.

The League was scheduled to add its second Canadian team next season. The Roadrunners had agreed to move from Phoenix to Toronto and play at the refurbished CNE Coliseum.

The Moose, along with five other IHL teams, will join the American Hockey League.

"We welcome the six new members with great enthusiasm," said AHL Executive Committee Chairman Steve Donner. "This expansion launches an exciting new era for the AHL."

Also coming over from the IHL with the Moose are the Milwaukee Admirals, Utah Grizzlies, Grand Rapids Griffins, Chicago Wolves and Houston Aeros.

This expansion, in addition to the previous announcement of new franchises in Manchester, New Hampshire and Bridgeport, Connecticut will bring the AHL to a membership of 30 franchises, with 27 of those expected to be active for the 2001-2002 season.

It is the intention of the league to activate all 30 franchises for the 2002-2003 season.

The AHL serves as a development League for the National Hockey League. The Moose are expected to announce their new affiliation with the Vancouver Canucks at a press conference on Tuesday.

Other Canadian teams in the AHL with NHL affiliates include the St. John's Maple Leafs (Toronto), Quebec Citadelles (Montreal), Hamilton Bulldogs (Edmonton) and the defending Calder Cup champion Saint John Flames (Calgary).