The New Mexico Renegades and the Wichita Thunder will lace up their skates and drop the puck for Santa Fe hockey fans at 12:30 p.m. at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center.
Tickets are $7 apiece, with portions of the proceeds going to the Santa Fe Youth Hockey League, which consists of boys and girls teams with players ranging from 8 years old to high-schoolers.
“We’re really excited to play [in Santa Fe] and we hope to put on a good show,” said Mike Stanaway, Renegades head coach.
The Renegades are a Junior A hockey team based out of Rio Rancho.
The Junior A level is populated with players between the ages of 17 and 20 years old. Many players go on to play in either the North American Hockey League (NAHL), a Tier II junior league, or the NCAA collegiate ranks.
But for some, the game will be a bittersweet reminder of what once was.
The Santa Fe Roadrunners called Genoveva Chavez home for three seasons, from 2004 to 2007, before moving to Topeka, Kan., prior to the 2007-08 NAHL season. They moved away from Santa Fe due to poor attendance and declining ticket sales.
“A lot of the hockey players in our adult league are excited to see the game,” said Orlando Mendonca, lead rink attendant at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center. “They haven’t seen this in a long time.”
Stanaway’s club played the Thunder last night in an outdoor game amid snow flurries in Los Alamos. Sunday will mark the first time in Renegade history they have played in Santa Fe.
“Obviously we appreciate every fan we can get,” Stanaway said. “Getting a chance to play in front of a fan base that hasn’t seen hockey in a while is great. I love the state of New Mexico and the people and its culture.”
Stanaway said playing games away from Rio Rancho is a great way for the Renegades to increase their presence and help build hockey’s overall appeal in the region.
“We want to get kids interested in hockey and grow the sport,” Stanaway said.
He said he hopes to return to Santa Fe in the future.