Semi-professional hockey has played a major role in Muskegon County for more than thirty years. The teams have had great success in all three leagues in which they have participated in, which include the International Hockey League (IHL), United Hockey League (UHL), and their recent entrance into the United States Hockey League (USHL) (Fury Hockey History pp. 1).
The Muskegon Lumberjacks were the first semi-professional hockey franchise created in Michigan during the 1984-1985 season (VandeVoorde pp. 1). The team had great success in the IHL, winning “three Huber Trophies [‘87-88, ‘88-89, ‘89-90] and two turner Cups [‘85-86],” (Ibid pp. 1). Although the Lumberjacks proved to be a dominant team in the league, their predecessors, the Muskegon Fury, became the winningest semi-professional hockey team in history (Ibid pp. 1).
The Muskegon Fury came to fruition in 1992 under the leadership of “President and Team Owner Tony Lisman,” who became the winningest coach in the history of the IHL (Ibid pp. 1). The Fury stands in a class all their own in comparison to any other franchise in the IHL. The team had “never seen a losing season, and had never missed the playoffs” throughout their fifteen seasons in the league (Ibid pp. 1). The Fury also boast a “winning percentage of .620 [all time],” as well as “four United Hockey League championships,” that were obtained in only nine seasons after joining the UHL (Ibid pp. 1).
Erin Whitten-Hamlen is an often overlooked player in the history of the Fury’s franchise. In fact, she is one of few women to have ever broken into the ranks of men’s professional hockey (Powers pp. 1). Although she only “played for the Fury during the 1995-1996 season,” she helped lead her team to another playoff appearance that year (Fury Hockey History pp. 1).
Following the conclusion of the 2007-2008 season, the teams name was changed “from the Muskegon Fury to the Lumberjacks” to reflect back on what many considered the glory days of hockey in Muskegon,” (Ibid pp. 1). The Lumberjacks entered into the USHL following the 2009-2010 season, which is a junior hockey league (AAA) for up and coming young players (Ibid pp. 1).