Poker pros bringing hockey to Topeka

Gavin Smith and Daniel Negreanu

Gavin Smith and Daniel Negreanu may help bring a hockey team into Topeka, Kan., as they look for a new home for the Tucson Tilt of the Western States Hockey League.

The president of the team, Jon MacWilliams, was in Topeka to check out the Kansas Expocentre where the team would be playing. He said he's optimistic about the move despite it not being a done deal yet.

The Tilt, a Junior B team, wouldn't be the first hockey team to come to the city. In 1998, they had the ScareCrows, which are part of the Central Hockey League.

The ScareCrows were sold three years later and converted to a junior team in the U.S. Hockey League, but only lasted one more year in Topeka before being sold and moving to Missouri.

The Topeka Tarantulas, another CHL team, were next to fill the hockey void in the city, but only lasted one season there, shutting down in March 2005.

The Tilt's ownership group, led by Gavin Smith and Daniel Negreanu, aren't letting the city's hockey history stop them from considering Topeka for the team, MacWilliams said.

The Expocentre hadn't been looking for a new hockey team, but the general manager of the center said the team would definitely be welcome and help fill in some of their schedule gaps. He also confirmed that talks are underway to make the move happen.

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