Hockey back in San Diego with the Gulls - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Hockey back in San Diego with the Gulls

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A celebration of the return of professional hockey to San Diego, including the announcement of Gulls as the American Hockey League team's nickname, is being held on Sunday at Valley View Casino Center.

"HockeyFest" will be from noon-3 p.m. and include family-friendly activities including street hockey, a hardest shot challenge, a bounce house, face painting, an autograph session and panel discussion. Admission is free.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Anaheim Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli are scheduled to attend. The Anaheim Ducks announced on Jan. 29 that their Norfolk (Virginia) AHL affiliate would be moving to San Diego to begin play this fall at Valley View Casino Center as part of a shift of five teams to California.

Willie O'Ree, the first black to play in the NHL, will participate in an autograph session with fellow former San Diego Gulls Martin St. Amour, B.J. MacPherson and Brad Belland.

A panel discussion and question-and-answer session on the past, present and future of hockey in San Diego will begin at 2 p.m. in the arena's Stella Artois Lounge.

The panelists will include David McNab, the Anaheim Ducks senior vice president of hockey operations, Ari Segal, the San Diego AHL team's president of business operations, and O'Ree. The discussion will be moderated by sportscaster Lee Hamilton.

McNab's late father Max coached the Gulls for their first six seasons in the Western Hockey League.

Registration will be conducted for Learn to Play hockey sessions to be held next month at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Rolando and Icetown Carlsbad.

The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive free T-shirts. Team merchandise will be available for purchase.

There have been deposits for 1,600 season tickets since the team's move was announced, communications manager Sam Kieckhefer told City News Service.

Ticket pricing and other information will be available from sales representatives at HockeyFest.

The Feb. 6 announcement by the San Diego Gulls of the Western States Hockey League that they will change their nickname to the Sabres beginning with the 2015-16 season prompted U-T San Diego to report that it was a "foregone conclusion" that the AHL team would be named the Gulls. Kieckhefer declined to comment on the report.

Gulls was the nickname of San Diego's 1966-74 WHL team, 1990-95 International Hockey League team, 1995-2003 West Coast Hockey League team and 2003-2006 ECHL team.

The AHL team will be San Diego's first professional hockey team since the Gulls folded in 2006 when negotiations to sell the team in time for the 2006-07 season failed.

More information about HockeyFest and the San Diego AHL team is available online at sandiegoahl.com or by calling (844) DUCK-AHL. Information can be received by texting SDAHL to 55333. Message and data rates may apply.

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