McKechnie to coach Haliburton Junior A team
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | April 15, 2015
Even more hockey talent will be coming to Haliburton when the town gets its very own Junior A level hockey team this summer.
"We are very excited to come here," said Stephane Laveault, director of operations and owner of the Haliburton Wolves, during an announcement at A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton on April 2.
"We like the area, we like small towns."
A minor hockey coach for 20 years and businessman, Laveault said he began eyeing Haliburton a year ago as a possible location to form a team.
"We came up with a list of about 10 towns," he explained. "Everything lined up perfectly this summer, and we started making calls to a couple of towns."
Laveault pointed out that Ray Miscio, the municipality's director of parks and recreation, was first to respond to his inquiry.
"We came down right away and visited the rink, and fell in love with the place," he recalled.
The team will be part of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League (GMHL). Founded in 2006, the vision for the league was "to improve the current standard of player development at the Junior A level in the world's greatest junior hockey regions."
Laveault said 28 players between the ages of 16 and 21 will be recruited for the team in the coming weeks.
On April 8, Laveault announced that Dysart councillor Walt McKechnie will join the team as head coach for the 2015/16 season.
"We have a lot of guys who play Junior A, even OHL [Ontario Hockey League], who want to play one more year. They come to the league a lot," said Laveault, who also recently purchased a team in Bobcaygeon.
Players are often recruited from Europe and the U.S.
Laveault is looking at doing at camp at A.J. LaRue Arena by the end of the month to scope out potential talent. He would like to include some local players on the team.
"We'll take as many local kids as we can," he said.
Laveault said that in this league spectators can expect to see fast, clean hockey.
The season is expected to start in the first week of September, but Laveault hopes to offer some pre-season games before that. The Wolves will play 42 regular season games, 21 of which will be held in Haliburton.
Dysart Reeve Murray Fearrey said this will be the start of a good thing for the municipality.
"We're excited to have them here," said Fearrey. "I think it's an opportunity for people to see a little better quality of hockey."
Since the players will live in the community, Fearrey said that would create an economic spin-off.
"They have to buy hockey sticks, they have to eat and they have to stay in the community," he said.
Fearrey pointed out that Laveault paid to have some minor renovations made to one of the arena's dressing rooms and that an arrangement has been reached for ice rentals.
Laveault said he intends to maintain a long-term partnership with the municipality.
"I don't want to be here for one year. If we're going to do something let's do it right, and let's be here for many years to come."
For more information visit wolvesjrahockey.com.
Anyone interested in trying out for the team is asked to contact team staff as soon as possible.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.