GRAND FALLS, N.B. – The MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) is not losing a franchise after all.
It was announced in March that the Woodstock Slammers of the Eastlink North Division had requested a year’s leave of absence for the 2018-19 season.
“After the club announced its request for a leave of absence, interested parties in Grand Falls, as well as the Slammers, began to take the required steps to move the club approximately 110 kilometres north along the Trans-Canada Highway,” reads a media release issued by the MHL.
The man primarily responsible for bringing the MHL to Grand Falls is Marcel Deschenes. Also the town’s mayor, Deschenes is one of many residents of the community that is excited to see junior A hockey make its way to the area.
The MHL board of governors approved the franchise relocation during a special meeting May 11.
“After hearing from Mr. Deschenes, the board of governors felt the proposal to relocate the Slammers’ franchise to Grand Falls was a sound one,” MHL president Brian Whitehead explained. “Although we are disappointed over the turn of events in Woodstock, which has long been a town that proudly represented our league, we nonetheless welcome and look forward to growing the MHL in Grand Falls.
“We feel the community will embrace junior A hockey as we continue to strive towards making the MHL a league of choice in our region.”
Grand Falls will play in the six-team Eastlink North Division along with the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals, Miramichi Timberwolves, Campbellton Tigers, St. Stephen Aces and Edmundston Blizzard, the 2017-18 league champions.
The Grand Falls area is home to almost 6,000 residents. Prior to the arrival of the MHL, the town boasted a rich history of senior hockey. The team will play its games out of the E. & P. Senechal Centre – a modern 1,200-seat arena built in 2009.
The Slammers’ rich history includes winning three league playoff titles, a Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian junior A championship and earning a silver medal at the RBC Cup national junior A championship in 2012.
The MHL’s annual general meeting and draft will be held in Berwick, N.S., from June 7 to 9.