Personnel from the Batchewana Attack of the new Canadian International Hockey League made their first public appearance at a press conference held earlier today.
Members of the local media representing HockeyNewsNorth.com, Sault This Week, SooToday.com, CTV Sault Ste. Marie and radio station Oldies 93 were on hand at Rankin Arena to hear from Attack primary owner David Maciuk, general manager Dennis Bolton and head coach Denny Lambert.
Attack assistant coach Gary Roach, scout Jim Casola, education co-ordinator Remi Gentes and medical consultant Dr. Kevin Caruso were also present as was Tim Clayden, the president and founder of the CIHL, an Ontario-based junior league that will begin play this fall with eight teams.
Maciuk, a Sault Ste. Marie native who has a residence here while maintaining business and hockey interests in Chicago, spoke of why he got involved with the Attack and the CIHL.
“I have been around the game my whole life and this keeps me in it in a new capacity,” said Maciuk, who played with the Soo Greyhounds in their inaugural, 1973-1974 Ontario Hockey League season before moving to Chicago to play at the minor-pro level.
“I believe in the concept of the CIHL where Canadians and Americans share the same status as non-imports.
“From our end, giving local players the option of playing for us will be a top priority. We want to give them the opportunity to develop and move on and they can do so by playing for a coach like Denny Lambert who has played and coached in the OHL and played in the NHL.
“For an organization that is just starting out, we have managed to bring in a veteran junior hockey guy in Dennis Bolton to be our GM and a head coach in Denny Lambert who has a record that speaks for itself,” Maciuk added.
The 63-year old Bolton has an impressive hockey past.
Not only did Bolton play in the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers but he starred at the U.S. college hockey level for the Lake Superior State Lakers.
Bolton has spent the past six seasons as an associate coach in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League for Soo Eagles (now of the North American Hockey League), Soo Thunderbirds and Blind River Beavers.
When Maciuk approached Bolton to become the GM of the Attack, the answer was quick and easy.
“Saying yes was the easy part,” smiled Bolton. “Now the real work has started. We have a lot to do but we are off to a very good start, especially on the hockey side with Denny and Gary. And we are so fortunate to have the use of a perfect junior A hockey facility. I have no doubt that the Rankin Arena will be rocking this winter.”
Roach, who will be Lambert’s no. 1 assistant, played four seasons in the OHL and was a top defenceman on the Soo Greyhounds Memorial Cup team of 1993.
Lambert, who played for and then coached the Greyhounds as part of an 11-year association with the OHL team, is thrilled to be back in the game as bench boss of the Attack.
“I want to pass on what I have learned and been a part of in the OHL and the NHL to the players of the Batchewana Attack,” Lambert said evenly. “We will be a disciplined team built on hard work and playing the game the right way.
“Between Gary and I, we will use our practice time to pass on to the players what we know and what we have been taught. I am so looking forward to being a part of this.”
Also on hand for the initial press conference were the two first player signings for the Attack — 1997 birth-year forward Jacob Palmerio and 1996 birth-year defenceman Cade Nolan.
Both Palmerio and Nolan are area products.
Palmerio played with the Soo Thunder minor midgets in 2012-2013 before moving to Sudbury to skate for the Nickel City Sons major midgets in 2013-2014.
Nolan has played three seasons at the major midget level, suiting up for both the Soo Indians and the erstwhile Soo North Stars.
Parents of both Palmerio and Nolan were also on hand for the first-ever press conference of the Attack and they spoke of how happy they are to have their sons be able to stay home, continue their schooling and be a part of Sault Ste. Marie’s new junior A hockey team.
Next up for the Attack is a main tryout camp to be held August 8-10 at Lake Superior State University’s Taffy Abel Arena.
Players born in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 who wish to register for the Batchewana tryout camp can do so by e-mail via email@example.com.
The Attack and the CIHL will begin the 2014-2015 regular season during the first week of October. Prior to that, CIHL teams will participate in a pair of September showcase tournaments being hosted by the Detroit Fighting Irish and Traverse City Hounds of the Midwest Jr. Hockey League.
PHOTO: CIHL president and founder Tim Clayden (left) and Batchewana Attack primary owner David Maciuk at the Rankin Arena press conference. (Photo by Theresa Desimone Leask.)