Timmins will make its return to the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League in 2015-2016 after an absence of more than 15 years — and the team will be known as the Rock.
The Rock moniker, logo and maroon-gold-and-white colours were unveiled at a Friday gathering at McIntrye Arena in Timmins.
The Rock is born from the erstwhile Abitibi Eskimos, who are relocating to Timmins after playing out of the much-smaller, nearby town of Iroquois Falls since 1999.
“We have been working on this for four months but it starts now, it gets real now,” Rock president Scott Marshall told the Timmins Free Press.
Marshall — one of the founders of the Abitibi franchise — will scoot from Iroquois Falls to Timmins to oversee the Rock in the same capacity that he had with the Eskimos.
Marshall’s long-time sidekick, the iconic Paul Gagne, a five-time NOJHL coach-of-the-year and erstwhile hockey boss of the aforementioned Abitibi Eskimos, will be coach-general manager of the all-new Rock.
Marshall gave reasons for naming the team the Rock.
“We wanted to pick a name that the young fans could relate to and we wanted a name that tied into Timmins and mining. We wanted to brand the team to support the brand of the city, and their branding efforts.
“All of these factors were taken into consideration. The board considered I don’t know how many names before we arrived at the name,” Marshall added.
Friday’s get-together was not without politics.
Timmins Mayor Steve Black attended the event — and had much to say.
“Timmins will Rock the Mac,” he said.
“I have my four season tickets, down by the penalty box, already.
“This is a great opportunity for the City of Timmins and council, staff and myself have been working hard on this over the past couple of months to allow the team to relocate here and find a partnership that works.
“Hopefully the community will rally behind the team now that that campaign (season ticket and corporate sponsorship) has officially been launched,” said Black.
Marshall revealed that the Rock has already sold more than 100 season tickets, which puts it on the way to achieving its lofty goal of 650.
“Our season ticket campaign has been going well already, despite not having any formal advertising,” Marshall boasted.
BACK IN IROQUOIS FALLS
Meanwhile, the NOJHL is poised to return to Iroquois Falls in 2015-2016 without ever having left it.
With Mattawa Blackhawks owner Allan Donnan having received the clear-cut support of NOJHL governors to move his franchise to Iroquois Falls by way of an 8-0 vote, all that stands in the way of relocation is the approval of the governing Northern Ontario Hockey Association.
Iroquois Falls — a resilient town of about 4,500 which is located about 45 miles from Timmins — was faced without having an NOJHL team for the first time since 1999.
Afterall, it was just a few months ago when the NOJHL approved the relocation of the Abitibi franchise from Iroquois Falls to Timmins for the 2015-2016 season.
Undaunted, a determined group of Iroquois Falls residents, led by Allison Madden-Blais and her husband Ron Blais, banded together to try to get a new NOJHL franchise — and it did just that when Donnan acted on the opportunity to move his Mattawa team to a town that led the league in attendance in 2014-2015 with a per-game average of 513.
Thus, pending the formal approval of the NOHA, the Mattawa Blackhawks will become the Iroquois Falls Eskimos in 2015-2016.
PHOTO: Timmins Rock coach-general manager Paul Gagne with the new team logo.