Under the guidance of esteemed coach Moe Mantha, the French River Rapids of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League will hold their first-ever open tryout camp on July 3-4-5.
The 54-year old Mantha — who grew up in Sturgeon Falls and became a first-round, Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Toronto Marlboros before going on to play in 673 National Hockey League games as a journeyman defenceman — will lead the new NOJHL entry in the French River town of Noelville as coach and director of hockey operations.
Noelville is about a half-hour drive from Sturgeon Falls, where Mantha has long maintained a home on the Laurentide Golf Course that his family has owned and operated for many years.
Mantha said he is anxious to begin the process of putting together a team in French River and is looking ahead to the July 3-4-5 weekend tryout camp.
“I have been talking to some kids from the French River, Sturgeon Falls, North Bay, Sudbury area who have inquired about our program,” Mantha told HockeyNewsNorth.com.
“I have also heard from American kids from Michigan and Illinois and let them know about the French River area and what we have to offer as a hockey program,” added Mantha, who noted that, “right now, all spots on our team are open.”
Following his lengthy NHL playing career, which began as a second-round draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 1980 and ended with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1992, Mantha immediately turned to coaching in the American Hockey League.
Since then, Mantha has made various coaching stops in the AHL, the OHL, with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and for the past five seasons — the 2014-2015 campaign included — with the Flint-based Michigan Warriors of the Tier 2 junior, North American Hockey League.
The Warriors were forced out of town following the 2014-2015 season to make room for the OHL’s Flint Firebirds, formerly the Plymouth Whalers.
At any rate, during his five seasons in the NAHL, Mantha coached the Warriors to two North Division championships and two appearances at the league’s national tournament.
Mantha also has a proven record of moving players up to the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks.
Over his five seasons coaching the NAHL Warriors, Mantha developed 25 players for NCAA schools — 13 for Division 1 and another 12 for Division 3.
As the new French River Rapids are working on setting up a team website, players born in 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996 and 1995 who are interested in attending the July 3-4-5 tryout camp can contact Mantha via this e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all information pertaining to the tryout, contact Mantha at the above e-mail address.
PHOTO: As a junior hockey coach, Moe Mantha has helped move 25 players on to the U.S. college ranks in a 5-year period.