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Casper Coyotes vs. Colorado Eagles 2016

Players for the Casper Coyotes skate off the ice after a 5-0 loss to the Colorado Junior Eagles on Dec. 10, 2016 at the Casper Events Center.

The Casper Coyotes will cease operations for the 2018-19 season, according to a release issued by the team on Friday. Ownership refused additional comment.

The Western States Hockey League, which the Coyotes have competed in since their inaugural 2014 season, was informed of the team’s decision to dissolve in the same email that was sent to the Star-Tribune.

“In these cases we have what we call ‘the governor’ that has direct relations to the league,” WSHL president/commissioner Ron White said. “We haven’t heard from the governor on that issue, which leaves us somewhere between the proverbial rock and a hard place because we don’t know whether to believe this or not. I’m trying to figure that out by the end of the day.”

According to White, he had been in contact with Coyotes head coach David Cole since receiving the announcement.

“I was on the phone with David trying to find out on whose authority that was issued,” White said. “I know who told David to send it, but I think they’re just concerned we haven’t been told officially.

“That’s the extent of what I know today. It’s a shame that this happened because the team has been very successful, in my opinion.”

The Coyotes’ longevity appeared promising after the Western States Hockey League promoted the club to Tier I beginning with the 2017-18 season. However, shortly thereafter, head coach John Ambrefe left the organization and Cole, the former head coach of the Casper Wranglers and Central Wyoming Outlaws, returned for another stint as coach.

Cole and the Coyotes insisted on staying at Tier II for the 2017-18 in order to be fully prepared for the jump to Tier I. The Coyotes also played their home games exclusively at the Casper Ice Arena last season instead of splitting time at the Casper Events Center. The team went 16-35-0 last season.

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“The team’s been successful since it was announced and I believe it would still be successful but I haven’t been given a reason why they’re shutting down,” White said. “I’m at a loss for anything but speculation.”

The Coyotes become the latest sports team in Casper to close its doors.

They follow in the footsteps of the Casper Wranglers (1993-95), which were later renamed the Central Wyoming Outlaws (1995-98), as a hockey team based in Casper to fold.

There was also the Casper Ghosts, a Rookie League affiliate for the Colorado Rockies, who played at Mike Lansing Field from 2001-2011 before being relocated to Grand Junction, Colorado. The Casper Cutthroats, of the expansion Mountain Collegiate Baseball League, began play in 2012 and remained until calling it quits just months after winning the MCBL championship in 2014.

Managements’ decision to close operations for the 2018-19 season means the Casper Horseheads summer collegiate baseball team, which will compete in the expansion Expedition League, is the only semi-professional team remaining in Casper.

The Horseheads are scheduled to play their home opener May 25 at Mike Lansing Field.

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Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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