He’s structured, organized, honourable and respected.
He’s also been around the game for a while.
After six years in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League as an associate coach and assistant general manager, Dennis Bolton is moving to the new Canadian International Hockey League.
The 63-year old Bolton, who played in the Ontario Hockey League with the Kitchener Rangers and at the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association level with the Lake Superior State Lakers before embarking on a 33-year career in the provincial justice system, has been named general manager of the Batchewana Attack.
Effective the upcoming 2014-2015 season, the Attack will play in the new CIHL out of Rankin Arena, which is located on First Nation land in Sault Ste. Marie.
Bolton, who spent four seasons in the NOJHL with the Soo Eagles as right-hand man to first Paul Theriault and then Bruno Bragagnolo before assisting the Soo Thunderbirds for one year and the Blind River Beavers for another, was sought out by primary owner David Maciuk to become GM of the Batchewana entry in the new CIHL.
“We’re thrilled to have Dennis on board with us,” said Maciuk, who will oversee the Attack as president and director of hockey operations. “Dennis is an honest man who knows the game. His attention to detail is second to none. We went after him and offered him the GM position.”
Bolton came highly recommended to Maciuk by Bragagnolo, who is the coach and general manager of the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League.
Bolton worked alongside Bragagnolo for two seasons when the Eagles were in the NOJHL. Bolton assisted Bragagnolo when the Eagles won the 2010-2011 NOJHL championship.
The Eagles left the NOJHL for the NAHL after the 2011-2012 season and Bolton subsequently spent 2012-2013 with the Thunderbirds before being called on by Blind River head coach Don Gagnon midway through the 2013-2014 campaign to help assist a struggling Beavers team.
To be sure, Bolton has devoted considerable time to junior hockey since retiring from his career in the justice and corrections system about seven years ago.
“It’s been rewarding to be back in the game at this level and to have worked with so many good people and organizations,” said Bolton. “Hockey always has and will be a passion for me.”
Bolton said it was with regret that he recently informed the NOJHL Beavers that he would not be returning as an assistant coach in Blind River in 2014-2015.
“The travel back and forth to Blind River (180 miles round trip) was somewhat of a factor,” Bolton said of his decision to leave his position with the Beavers to become GM of the Batchewana entry in the CIHL. “This keeps me closer to home.
“I am looking forward to being part of a new venture with the Batchewana Attack and the CIHL,” added Bolton, who resides in Sault Ste. Marie with his wife, Sandi. “It is a great opportunity to get involved with good people. I have been following all of your stories about the new league, its vision and its plans and I find it all to be fascinating and exciting.”
The CIHL currently has eight teams set to begin play in 2014-2015, four of which are in Northern Ontario — Batchewana, Espanola Rivermen, St. Charles Spirit and Greater Sudbury Royals.
Other members of the CIHL are the Central Ontario HTI Stars, Colborne Cramahe Hawks, Milton Battle Arts Cobras and Collingwood Ice.
As for Batchewana, Bolton and Maciuk have identified a short list of candidates to fill the head coach and assistant coaching positions with the Attack.
The Attack currently has committed to two local players — 1997 birth-year forward Jacob Palmerio and 1996 birth-year defenceman Cade Nolan.
In the meantime, Maciuk has been talking to other locals and scouting NAHL tryout camps for players who could possibly fill roles with the Attack.
“Our first priority is to local players,” Maciuk said evenly. “But we are starting to look elsewhere.”
The new CIHL bills itself as a league without borders, meaning Canadian and American players share equal status as non-imports. All CIHL teams can use up to 12 Europeans, should they choose.
The CIHL is a member of the sanctioned United Hockey Union which operates under the umbrella of an Amateur Athletic Union that was founded way back in 1888.
Along with the CIHL, the Midwest Jr. Hockey League, Northern States Hockey League and Western States Hockey League are members of the UHU.