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History of the Icedogs

The Icedogs were founded in 1996 by a Michigan-based investment firm.  They played their entire first season on the road as they awaited the completion of the Valley Ice Garden.  Home games were played in Helena, Montana that first season.

In the fall of 1997, the Icedogs moved into the brand new Valley Ice Garden, a state-of-the-art, 3,500-seat arena outside Bozeman. Bill Martel, owner of the Bozeman construction firm that had been building the facility, took over ownership of both the team and the arena, providing the Gallatin Valley with its first indoor ice skating facility. The rink opened to the public with an open house on September 14, 1997.

The 1999-2000 season was a turbulent one for the Icedogs. After seven games, Cole was fired and replaced with assistant coach Dale “Duner” Hladun. The team failed to improve under Hladun, who was forced to leave the team due to visa issues and replaced by assistant coach Darren Blue.

In March 2000, the Bozeman Icedogs hired John LaFontaine, brother of NHL great Pat LaFontaine, as head coach and director of hockey operations. LaFontaine immediately turned the program around, leading the team to a .500 record and playoff appearance in his first season as coach.

The Icedogs won the Borne Cup for the second time during the 2005-2006 season.  Following the season the Valley Ice Garden was sold and converted to non-hockey facility.  The Icedogs moved down to the Junior B level of hockey and began playing in the Northern-Pacific Hockey League.  The Haynes Pavilion became the home of the Icedogs.  Assistant Coach Kevin Stone took the reigns for Coach LaFontaine, who departed to assume a coaching position at Shattuck St. Mary.

In 2010, the Icedogs replaced Kevin Stone with Bill Zaniboni and also joined the re-formed AWHL and moved back up to Junior A. Coach Zaniboni left after the 2012 season.

The 2012-13 season was coached by Steve Harrison for one season after Bill Zaniboni was hired away by a team in the MNJHL.

The Icedogs were sold after the 2012-13 season to a local couple Alec and Kate Nisbet.  Along with new owners came a new Head Coach Mark Vichorek.  Coach Vichorek inherited a team that was 1-47 and heading into his third season has begun to bring the Icedogs back to prominence.  The Icedogs and the entire league moved from the AWHL and joined the NA3HL after the 2013-14 season and became the Frontier Division.  The NA3HL is the largest Junior Tier 3 hockey league in the United States with 34 teams to date and growing.

In nineteen seasons, the Icedogs made ten playoff appearances, three trips to the national tournament, and won two Borne Cup championships.