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IHL strips Dayton owners of controlling interest

The IHL has stripped northeast Indiana natives Richard Bruner and Ryan Yerrick of controlling interest in the Dayton Gems, a first-year franchise, citing their "inability to meet requirements to maintain ownership."

The IHL will have new Dayton-based ownership in place by this weekend, the IHL said in a statement.

“The bottom line is the league felt it was better that our group be replaced and the reason that they cited is that we didn’t pay our dues,” Bruner said, declining to elaborate on other possible reasons the IHL would want a change. “At this point, we are just trying to negotiate and make the transition to a new ownership group that is coming in.”

IHL commissioner Dennis Hextall declined to elaborate on the reasons for the takeover of the Gems, other than to say, “They haven’t abided by all the bylaws. … But the Gems will be better for this and the league will be better for this.”

Bruner and Yerrick were proprietors of the Fort Wayne-based chain of Buddy’s Pizza Buffets, which went out of business last summer as they moved to Dayton. That left a slew of lawsuits in their wake.

“It’s personally disappointing and I don’t want to focus on the negatives,” Bruner said of his Gems finale. “And there are positives. We went into an area and were able to bring hockey back there and revitalize the Gems. We were able to get a team on the ice, and we brought in a great coach (John Marks). Personally, I think the team is going to survive.”

The Gems are 9-8-3 this season.

Bruner confirmed that he and Yerrick could emerge as owners of the Detroit Hitmen in the lower-level All-American Hockey League, and he pledged to remain a member of the Dayton community, as they own a Pedro’s Mexican Grill there.