Cochrane to Iroquois Falls?

April 29, 2023

Cochrane Crunch owner Tom Nickolau has applied to the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League to move his franchise to the nearby town of Iroquois Falls. NOJHL governors will vote on the transfer request “for consideration and determination in due course” according to league commissioner Rob Mazzuca.

The application for relocation will require the approval of three quarters of the NOJHL’s 12 governors. Cochrane and Iroquois Falls are separated by about 30 miles along Highway 11.

Cochrane has had an NOJHL franchise since 2014 when the Crunch was established by the owner at the time, Ryan Leonard. Leonard sold the team to the aforementioned Nickolau in 2020.

The Crunch averaged just 170 fans per game at the Tim Horton Event Centre during the 2022-2023 regular season. Its biggest crowd — by far — came when the Crunch hosted a game in Iroquois Falls that drew more than 1,000 fans to venerable Jus Jordan Arena, aka the Igloo.

Iroquois Falls was home to NOJHL teams from 1999 to 2017 when the owner at that time, Allan Donnan, sold the franchise to the current operators of the Hearst Lumberjacks. During its last season as members of the NOJHL, Iroquois Falls had the third-best attendance in the NOJHL, trailing only the Timmins Rock and Soo Eagles.

After watching its NOJHL team move to Hearst, a group of Iroquois Falls fans led by local businessman Rick Charlebois formed the ‘Boost Our Igloo Club’ with a mission of trying to get a junior hockey franchise back to the town of about 4,500 residents.

Meanwhile, Nickolau, as the owner of the Cochrane franchise, has not commented on the potential relocation from Cochrane to Iroquois Falls, saying only that he is awaiting a decision on the matter from the league.

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