Rockers revived for 2022 Federal Prospects hockey League

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published June 21, 2022


FRASER — After a major setback in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Motor City Rockers have been rejuvenated and are ready to rock the Federal Prospects Hockey League.

The team was originally announced in 2020 with a foolproof plan to join the FPHL that already included a selected name, logo, arena and team colors. The hair-band-rocker-themed logo, drawn from Detroit’s rock-and-roll history, is sported with purple and black colors. The logo, name and colors were the original idea in place and will continue to serve as the new identity of the Rockers.

“We thought the logo and the colors were really cool,” Motor City Rockers General Manager Nick Field said. “Obviously, the rock-and-roll vibe plays really well.”

While the project flatlined momentarily, the idea was attractive enough for seven local business owners to jump at the opportunity.

“Our general manager, Nick Field, saw the Rockers were supposed to become a team in late 2020, but with COVID and everything, it didn’t happen,” part owner and Rockers’ Director of Marketing and Communications Frank Sorise said. “They had a pretty good brand and rink in place.”

Big Boy Arena will serve as the team’s home ice in its inaugural season, with planned entertainment and an atmosphere that Field said will draw from the team’s name.

“Our intent and our goal is to really use our brand as part of our atmosphere,” Field said. “Lots of rock, whether it’s classic rock, ’80s rock, ’90s rock — that’s our brand.

“We want them to know that they’re not just coming to a hockey game, but a show, and it’s going to have that rock vibe,” Field said.

Part of the atmosphere will be a revamped scoreboard, new lighting and Slapshotz Bar, providing food and drinks, as well.

The 3,400-seat arena once stood as both Fraser Hockeyland and Great Lakes Sports City’s Superior rink in its heyday. Hockey fans may draw remembrance of the 2004-2005 National Hockey League lockout that persuaded NHL stars such as Sean Avery, Chris Chelios, Derian Hatcher and Bryan Smolinski to sign with the local United Hockey League team, the Motor City Mechanics.

With its rich history and established foundation, Sorise said it was a favorable spot to land.

“It was a pretty ideal spot. It’s right where we wanted to be, and it’s a perfect minor league arena,” Sorise said. “It’s a mini Joe Louis Arena.”

The Rockers will enter the FPHL as the 10th team, the second in Michigan (the state also has the Port Huron Prowlers), with other teams located in New York, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Delaware and Mississippi.

While everything has been set in motion, there’s still an extensive amount of work to be done before the season starts in the fall.

Field will be in charge of constructing a competitive roster from the upcoming expansion draft. The Rockers will be able to select 12 players from a pool of unprotected talent from the surrounding teams in the league.

“We want to make sure we fill our roster with as many local guys as possible,” Field said. “If we got guys that are local with the skill set and intangibles, then there’s no reason not to have them be a part of our team.”

Off the ice, the team is currently working on personnel decisions, jersey and stadium designs, and schedule construction.

Field’s first hire as general manager was appointing Nick Russo as director of hockey operations. Russo has an extensive hockey background previously serving as the president and director of hockey operations for the Mentor Ice Breakers in the FPHL.

Field said Russo’s familiarity with the league was a vital part of his hiring.

“We wanted to make sure we found somebody who specifically had experience in the league with day-to-day activity,” Field said. “With his background, he’s basically been in hockey his whole life.”

Tryout camps will be held at the arena, located at 34400 Utica Road, in Fraser, starting at 6 p.m. on June 17 and 12:30 p.m. on June 18. It will be open to the public and free for viewing on both days with live scrimmage games, and family activities, as well, on June 18.

Tryouts are free to qualified players, and players must be from the Michigan area. Interested players can register on the team’s website at