French River Rapids have been officially approved by the governing Northern Ontario Hockey Association as the 10th member of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, HockeyNewsNorth.com has confirmed.
A picturesque municipality of about 2,500 residents, French River — which had earlier been unanimously approved by the NOJHL as an expansion team for the 2015-2016 season — is located between Sudbury and Sturgeon Falls.
Allan Donnan, who also owns the Iroquois Falls Eskimos of the NOJHL, is the primary owner of the new French River team which, as first reported by HockeyNewsNorth.com, will be coached and managed by former Ontario Hockey League and National Hockey League defenceman Moe Mantha.
To be sure, the 54-year old Mantha — who played in 673 NHL games as a journeyman defenceman and who coached the erstwhile Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League to two North Division championships over the past five years — has already started to recruit players for French River.
One player who Mantha has been in contact with is free-agent goalie George Hill, who was with the Detroit Fighting Irish of the Tier 3, Midwest Jr. Hockey League (now the United States Premier Hockey League) in 2014-2015.
As part of an unusual four-man goalie system with Detroit, Hill had a 6-5-1 record to go with a 3.66 goals against average and a team-best .902 save percentage, regular season and playoffs included.
A 1995 birth-year, Hill stands in at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds.
As French River has been approved as the NOJHL’s 10th team, two others are poised to join the league for the 2015-2016 season.
Pending approval from various governing bodies to join the NOJHL as its 11th and 12th teams are the Espanola Express and the Michigan Soo Eagles.