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NA3HL hockey team announces its new name: Willmar WarHawks

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General Manager Matt Johnson, right, announces the name of Willmar’s new NA3HL3 hockey team — the WarHawks — Wednesday at Heritage Bank in Willmar. Helping him unveil the name is Doyle Slagter, left, and Willmar High School hockey coach Jamie Hagen. (CLAY CUNNINGHAM | TRIBUNE)2 / 4
The logo of the new Willmar WarHawks, a NA3HL junior hockey franchise.3 / 4
Kids climb a rock wall that was brought to Heritage Bank Wednesday. The event was to commemorate the formation of an amateur hockey team in Willmar. (CLAY CUNNINGHAM | TRIBUNE)4 / 4

WILLMAR — Willmar’s new junior hockey team has a name.

The North American 3 Hockey League team will be the WarHawks.

The name was unveiled during a ceremony at Heritage Bank Wednesday afternoon in Willmar.

Other proposed names submitted through online voting were the Walleyes, Lakers, Wings and Wolfpack.

The WarHawks will compete in the NA3HL’s Tier III league, which has 43 teams in 17 states.

The franchise relocated to Willmar after previously operating as the Minnesota Flying Aces out of Little Falls.

Aside from the announcement of the team name, the event also featured a dinner and numerous games and activities, including corn hole and a rock wall.

Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin said he believes the team’s presence will greatly benefit to the city.

“Willmar being a regional center, it’s an expectation that we come to the table with (community activities),” Calvin said. “This fits right into all of (our efforts) to make positive strides in the community.”

WarHawks General Manager Matt Johnson said his conversations with local citizens have been very positive, and that many seem eager for the club’s first season to begin this fall.

With the foundation now laid, he’s looking forward to it, as well.

“We’re finally to the point where we can really grow some roots here in town,” said Johnson, who also serves as business manager for the NA3HL’s Alexandria Blizzard.

“Now we can see how much people want us and kind of start to see what the outcome’s going to be once the season starts.”

Blaisuis named head coach

The team also introduced Chris Blaisuis as the Warhawks first head coach.

Since 2010, Blaisuis has served as the Midwest Region Scout for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, a Tier II Junior A team in the North American Hockey League.

Due to a family commitment, he was unable to attend Wednesday’s event.