The 2002-2003 hockey season had just come to an end; and we all looked forward to next season. The spring hockey league was getting ready to start. Travel schedules and hotel plans were being made. Summary hockey camps were set and then the phone rang. We were informed that the hockey program at the Wonderland of Ice had decided to leave and move to a different facility. Instantly, after over 30 years of youth hockey at Wonderland, there were no kids and no youth hockey! It was at that very moment that we made the decision for the betterment of the kids as well as youth hockey in general, that a new youth hockey program was born, with the understanding that its always about the kids first and foremost.
Time was not on our side. It was April and we had only five short months to accomplish the impossible. The first step was to make sure that our Wonderland family know that there would still be youth hockey in Bridgeport in the fall. So we prepared postcard mailers and got the word out! Secondly, we needed a team. Not a hockey team, but a team of dedicated parents and friends that would do whatever it took to get hockey at Wonderland back to where it belonged. Numerous people were involved including John and Michael Ferguson, Lisa Fedick, Gregg OX Oxfeld and many others. A tremendous amount of work had to be done such as, filing with the State, set-up of a non-profit company, and instatement with USA Hockey through our local chapter: The Connecticut Hockey Conference. While all this was going on, Wonderland of Ice alumni and NHL player Chris Drury knew what had happened and was asked his opinion about a name. Without hesitation, he blurted out “The Wonderland Wizards” and the name was inked. Gregg Oxfield, the Wizards first President, and his office design team came up with a first draft logo. The original colors were green and dark blue (based on the Hartford Whalers) and soon with the additional input, the sticks were added to the logo and the colors were changed to light blue, white, and black.
The next month countless hours were spent creating forms, sending out mailers, attending meeting, speaking to parents, securing sponsors and collecting funds; always keeping in mind that this labor of love was all about this kids. We painted the locker rooms, hung banners and displayed our new colors. We organized fundraisers, open skates and barbeques all summer long while proudly wearing our new hockey sweaters. The effort caught on and our Wizard family grew from 10 to 20 then 50. By mid June 2003, we had over 140 kids ready to play.
Our greatest obstacle was getting sanctioned in the state by The Connecticut Hockey Conference. After many weeks and long hours of work, we preserved. On June 24, 2003, the Wonderland Wizards were included in the CHC with the stipulation that we could not participate in state finals for two years. To any other program this might have been devastating new, but not for the Wizards. Just like every other obstacle we faced, we just told the truth regardless of this prerequisite. Our new Wizard family got ready for the season with enthusiasm and pride. In our first year, we were very proud to dress two Mite teams, two Squirt teams, one PeeWee team and one Bantam team as well as House League teams. Many of those players from our inaugural season are still with the organization and thriving.