The first hurdle towards keeping a Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League team in Iroquois Falls has been cleared.
At a special meeting held Monday night, the Town of Iroquois Falls approved a request from Mattawa Blackhawks owner Allan Donnan to move his NOJHL franchise to the northeastern Ontario community effective the 2015-2016 season.
The relocation of the franchise from Mattawa to Iroquois Falls still requires approval of the NOJHL board of governors.
Iroquois Falls has been home to the NOJHL’s Abitibi Eskimos since 1999. But the town faced the prospects of losing its NOJHL presence when the operators of the Abitibi franchise recently received league approval to relocate from Iroquois Falls to the larger, nearby community of Timmins for the 2015-2016 season.
Allison Madden-Blais, longtime billet co-ordinator for the Eskimos, called the Town of Iroquois Falls’ approval to house the Mattawa franchise “great news for a little commmunity that loves junior hockey.
“I want to thank Allan (Donnan) for what he is doing to keep junior hockey in Iroquois Falls,” she added.
Donnan, who attended the meeting in Iroquois Falls, said the town “has a great history of supporting its NOJHL team. We welcome the opportunity to continue the Eskimos great tradition, pending the necessary approval.”
For the record, the Eskimos led the entire NOJHL during the 2014-2015 regular season with an average per-game attendance of 513.