NOJHL to remain in Iroquois Falls?

March 20, 2015

It appears as though the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League will not be leaving Iroquois Falls — home of the Abitibi Eskimos — after all.

While the NOJHL has already approved the relocation of the current Abitibi franchise to the bigger, nearby town of Timmins effective the 2015-2016 campaign, there could be another team setting up shop in Iroquois Falls next season.

A group of Iroquois Falls residents and longtime Eskimos volunteers, led by the husband-wife duo of Ron Blais and Allison Madden-Blais, have embarked on a campaign to attract another NOJHL team to the small northeastern Ontario town.

A de facto, town hall initiative meeting, held in Iroquois Falls this past Sunday, drew in about 300 locals who are interested in keeping an NOJHL presence in their town.

And where there is smoke, there seems to be fire.

To be sure, sources with knowledge of the situation have told that they think there will be an NOJHL team in Iroquois Falls in 2015-2016 via relocation of a current franchise.

Of note, the Iroquois Falls-based Eskimos led the entire nine-team NOJHL in attendance during the 2014-2015 regular season with a per-game average of 513 at venerable Jus Jordan Arena.

What you think about “NOJHL to remain in Iroquois Falls?”

  1. A Mattawa relocation to I.F. Is in the works according to a source. Arena visit by involved parties has already taken place.

  2. This will be a posative step for our NOJHL League as it is the Abitibi Ekimos are a Proud Franchise that is part of the Fabric of what the NOJ is built upon. The Blaises are to be commendit for what they have worked at in support of this Project. Good for you to report on this RR as u of been on our side for many years. Cheers.

    1. You are right, Ron. All is uncomfirmed, as per the question mark in the headline. Have some respect? You can’t be serious, man.

  3. This is great news for I.F. They have always supported the Eski’s very well, have a beautiful arena and very dedicated volunteers. If they can change the current business model they are using and start to charge some billeting fee’s and player fee’s like everyone else they will do just fine. This would be good for the Cochrane, Timmins and KL as now all 3 teams have would have 3 oppossing teams within a reasonable travel distance. I can not see any way how an NOJHL Team can survive in Mattawa, so relocating to I.F. make total sense for them. Having Mattawa move to I.F. would however, significantly increase Powassan’s travel budget.

  4. Will be interesting to see what developments with the current 6 I.F. natives on the roster That are eligible to return.

  5. I like it that RR is writing more about the Noj these days. Your coverage of the Noj has always been the best RR “the best by far” .

  6. Vito Solo: Barons moving to Rayside? No way.

    Very happy for the folks up in Iroquois Falls who have always supported there team so much passion over the Years. RR: do you no for sure if it is Matawa or Blind River who is moving to Iroquois Falls??

  7. The new owner of the matawa team was in abitibi the other night to watch the game and talk with town council. Hope he realizes three quarters of the people at the game were from Timmins and Cochrane. A new team in I.F. will be lucky to draw 200 people, except when Timmins or the Crunch are there and a couple hundred fans hit the road to watch their teams play.

    1. As noted in story, “hockeytimeintimmins”, the Iroquois Falls-based Abitibi Eskimos led the entire 9-team NOJHL in attendance during the regular season.

  8. Special Town Council meeting in Iroquois Falls on Monday night to discuss potential new NOJHL team for 2015-2016 season.

  9. Very true Randy. They had around 900 at each of their five “home” games played in Timmins, which helped those stats. And don’t forget about the couple hundred folks from Timmins who make the forty five minute trek to I.F. regularly to watch, that won’t be going next year when there’s Jr. A hockey five minutes away at “the Mac”.
    Maybe I’m wrong, and only time will tell, but I think this will be the last year abitibi leads the league in attendance.
    P.S. Season tickets go on sale soon in Timmins, better get them while supplies last.

    1. Hockeytimeintimmins,

      Good points you make.

      At any rate, just think of the potentially-great rivalry, Timmins v. Iroquois Falls. Fans in both towns will be the winners.

  10. The Greatest Dudley Hewitt Cup Tournament I Ever Attended Was Back In The Falls In 2007 Schreiber Diesels, Soo Indians, Aurora Tigers and host Abitibi Eskimos ! I sure hope we can keep a franchise in that town all the games were well attended,and it was a very exciting tournament to watch.

    1. Barons Fan,

      I too was at the 2007 DHC in Iroquois Falls. It was very good hockey and a well-run event. I enjoyed the 4-5 days/nights I spent up in the Falls. And Jus Jordan Arena, along with Pullar Stadium in Soo, Michigan, remain my two favourite Junior A hockey rinks.

  11. Thanx for up-dates & your comment’s RR. You have been a good friend to the Eskis for many years and we Fans such as Rick from (Ricks Hi-Fi) do appreshiate this as I think that u kno.

  12. Hey RR – thanks for bringing this out in to the open . This is the Talk of the Town and we are feeling good about this . I hope you make it back up to the Igloo next season RR because you are over do for a visit.

  13. Rumors will be laid to rest with facts & figures very soon & I`m sure RR will share the scoop . Although I have issues with the departing Eskimos , I like what was said at the meeting ,`Keep this positive & move forward“ .
    I didn`t like what was done to E-Lake last season with the announcement of relocating right before the playoffs , the Eskimos do the same thing , I think we in I-Falls can show some respect to the relocating community ( if it is an existing franchise) by waiting for the right timing.
    Yes ,we in Abitibi land have been well supported by the surrounding communities for the last 16 yrs , I think this will be great for the league & the 4 teams who will be less then 2 hr drive of each other. Will we be leading the league in attendance ? Maybe not but we will be up there & enough to keep the franchise viable.
    Hoping it all works out & we stay put in the NOJHL cause other interested parties showed interest in the Igloo which is the best venue for hockey in N.Ont.
    Let the rivalries begin !!

  14. Hockey time in Timmins, apparently you haven’t watched many games in IF, very few timmins fans. There are a few parents, half dozen bunnies and a few regulars (those regulars have committed to season tickets in IF for next year btw). before you respond, please check the season ticket holder list on the website before they shut it down and try to identify 20 names from outside of IF.

    Of the last games played in the Igloo, it was a majority of IF fans followed by Cochrane fans and then timmins a distant 3rd. For the regular season, Way more IF fans travelled to timmins than timmins fans travelling to IF for games. Timmins doesn’t support hockey, concerts or much for that matter. To be clear, I’m not saying there was more IF fans in Timmins for those games, but rather more people travelled to Timmins than what normally travel from timmins to watch games.

    If a new teams comes to the Igloo, It’ll be just fine, great place to watch hockey and IF has a knowledgeable fan base that will be complimented by the 3 neighbouring rivals in KL, Cochran and timmins.

  15. and FYI, check the league website, attendance in Timmins was one game with less than 500, one less than 600, one less than 700, one less than 800 and one game less than 900! Not one game in timmins broke 900. Sorry but i just prefer facts.

  16. Scott Marshall suports this and he should as he is from here and chose to be a part of the Timmins thing. Thank You Scott but a Hero you are not.

  17. eskisfan I’m not going to say I disagree with you but let me tell you that there are more than a few fans that drive from Timmins to the eskis games! I’m one of them and I’m one the 25-30 cars that follow each other all the way back home. And I’m one of the regulars who bought a season seat in Timmins next year (btw).My opinion there will be an average of 400 fans going to the games regularly which is more than what KL gets.

  18. I find 25 to 30 cars a bit of stretch, but I’ll take your word for it. still, what is that, 50-60 fans? and of course not all will buy season tickets, but some are buying here and Eskimosp fans were pleased to see them at the recent meetings.

    I think well average close to 450 and with new model, that should be enough to keep the Eskimos afloat and competitive.

    IMO this is a win win for all the north eastern Ontario franchises. Especially Iroquois Falls who desperately needed some good news in light of the numerous setbacks we’ve had the past 8 months

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