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Dear ECHO Families,    Looking back on our 2021-2022...

  Eastern Connecticut Stars Announce Long-Term Partnership...

Dear ECHO Families,


Looking back on our 2021-2022 season, we want to take this time to thank you for committing to the ECHO hockey family. We are grateful to our returning members and we welcome all our new members for the upcoming 2022-2023 season!


We couldn’t be more proud to sport our green, black and gold! Our Bar Down and Bullseye Fundraiser was a huge success and so much fun! We grabbed some metal and tons of memories in both the Avon Thanksgiving Tournament and Steel City Shootout Tournament. All of our teams had successful and competitive seasons, many advancing far in their state tournaments. We are so unbelievably proud of all our players. We cheered for them in the stands and eagerly watched them on social media throughout the season, bond with their teammates, progress exponentially as players and play some exciting hockey. Despite coming back from a challenging year with COVID, we couldn’t have had a better season of competitive hockey and personal development of our players. 


As many of you know, in January, ECHO was acquired by Black Bear Sports Group, the same company that purchased our home rink, the Bolton Ice Palace. We appreciate your patience with the volunteer Board of Directors and Coaches while we navigate this transition. We know that change can bring on lots of questions and cause families concern. However, we want to assure you that the ECHO Directors leading the transition along with Black Bear, are working hard and are passionate and dedicated to the continued success of ECHO and excited for what the future holds for our nearly 50 year old organization. We recognize there could be more communication and we will do more to ensure you are up to date on all things ECHO moving forward. 


Our 2022-2023 Assessments have been a huge success! We have multiple teams in each level for U8-U12 and we are looking forward to completing our Bantam tryouts coming up in April. We appreciate your patience as we continue to organize our teams and analyze the assessment results. The Learn to Play and Mite Development Programs continue to thrive and have record registration, which is the foundation for a strong organization. 


With these changes, we welcome the great opportunities that follow. In summary, we will have Sasha Malkov, founder of Explosive Hockey, leading the charge as Skills Director, up leveling all players on the best skating and skills for modern hockey development. Former NHL player, Bob Crawford will share his expertise in creating enhanced practice plans and ensuring that our players are prepared for the most competitive youth hockey in the area. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltending Scout and founder of ProCrease Goaltending Jared Waimon, along with his dedicated crew, will lead our goalies in weekly training sessions. ECHO also houses some talented coaches, with decades of experience in post high school hockey careers and head coaching of youth hockey teams. We will continue to share with you throughout the season coach profiles, player highlights and upcoming events in our organization’s Newsletter Stars and Snipes, as well as our social media channels. 


We want to take a moment to thank our former Board of Directors president, Gary Gordon, for his passion and dedication over the past few years. Gary worked tirelessly in his capacity as president to continue implementing ECHO’s traditions as well as enhancing ECHO’s ability to compete in the area’s youth hockey environment. Gary played an important role in increasing ECHO’s social media presence and he was instrumental in forging the relationship with Black Bear. We are grateful for his commitment to ECHO. 


ECHO would like to announce that Zach Allyn, former Board of Director member and Director of Player and Coach Development will now act as Co-Program Director for ECHO.  Dan Gibson, former Board of Director member and Vice President of Operations will act as the other Co-Program Director. Both Zach and Dan had post high school hockey careers and have been dedicated ECHO coaches and members. Finally, Elise Bishop, former Board of Director member and Secretary will now act as Administrative Director for ECHO. Elise and her family have been ECHO members for over 6 years.


Again, thank you for your commitment. We hope this message creates the same excitement and confidence as it does for our new directors as we prepare for the 2022-2023 season.


One final but incredibly important note:  we want to hear from you! We want your questions, your concerns, your enthusiasm. Simply stated, YOU and your families are ECHO. The organization wants to see you and hear from you. We want you to play a critical part in the success of ECHO and our continued efforts to enhance our program for the kids. As most of you know, the kids' love of hockey, camaraderie and fun is the key to success of our program. The more fun the kids are having playing the sport they love with the friends they've made, the more success they will have on the ice. As parents, you are the integral piece to ensuring that the kids have fun and we encourage you to assist us in making that happen. 


E - C - H - O… ECHO, ECHO ECHO!!! 




Zach Allyn, Dan Gibson and Elise Bishop

Your dedicated ECHO Directors 

by posted 03/22/2022


Eastern Connecticut Stars Announce Long-Term Partnership with Bolton Ice Palace

Bob Crawford Named Coaching Director, Sasha Malkov Named Skills Director and Director of Player Personnel

Bolton Ice Palace, Eastern Connecticut Hockey Organization (ECHO Stars) and Black Bear Sports Group are pleased to announce a long-term partnership between the rink and the youth hockey club with the shared goals of growing the youth club, enhancing youth hockey offerings within the club and at the rink, and offering more development opportunities for rink and club participants. This new partnership establishes the ECHO Stars as the home club at the Bolton Ice Palace and the rink will undergo a beginner hockey programming re-brand to develop and promote the Little Stars Rookie Program (in conjunction with the New York Rangers Learn to Play Program) to bring more opportunities for young players to play hockey.

The Ice Palace and ECHO have also named Bob Crawford as Coaching Director of the club and Sasha Malkov as Skills Director and Director of Player Personnel.

Coach Crawford, an alum of the NHL’s Hartford Whalers, has spent the last 30 years training and developing hundreds of players, and most recently, developing and growing girls hockey in the region. Crawford was recently named to the Board of Black Bear Sports Group (“Black Bear”). Black Bear is the owner and operator of Bolton Ice Palace and Champions Skating Center. “In my capacity as Coaching Director of ECHO, I’ll be working closely with the current coaching staff to build competitive teams at each level for next season and implementing a wider variety of skills training and goalie training,” said Coach Crawford.

Coach Sasha Malkov was named Skills Director and Director of Player Personnel of ECHO and will be also be announcing soon a variety of skills training programs run through the rink. Coach Sasha will also be assisting with tryouts and recruiting for the 2022-23 system. “It is clear that the rink and Black Bear Sports Group want to build on the great traditions of ECHO and grow the club long-term,” said Sasha. “The partnership with the rink opens the door to new opportunities for our players including spring and summer camps, tournament opportunities and access to player movement to its owned and operated Elite and AAA clubs at the Jr. Wolfpack AAA and MassConn United.”

Tryouts and team alignments for 2022-23 will be announced soon on the website! Go Stars!

About Black Bear Sports Group, Inc.

Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. is a privately held company formed by Murry Gunty and Blackstreet Capital Holdings, LLC in 2015 that seeks investments in sports and entertainment facilities, teams, and youth sports events.  Black Bear arenas are clean, professionally managed, and offer world-class recreational programs.  Black Bear focuses on ice arenas in metropolitan areas with compelling demographics, markets with a National Hockey League club presence and arenas with existing youth hockey clubs.  Black Bear not only features the ability to acquire healthy and stable arenas, but also the expertise required to turn around mismanaged or under-performing facilities.  The largest owner/operator of ice rinks in the U.S., Black Bear’s footprint totals 30 facilities across the United States with 55 sheets of indoor ice, four indoor turf fields, 18 youth hockey clubs, two youth hockey leagues (Atlantic Hockey Federation and National Girls Hockey League), the nation’s largest adult hockey organization (Foundry Adult Hockey) and three Junior “A” hockey franchises with membership in the United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League and Eastern Hockey League.  

by posted 02/11/2022