The team is taking on a new identity — the Iroquois Falls Eskis of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League are putting the pieces in place.
It began in the spring when team owner Allan Donnan received league approval to relocate the Mattawa Blackhawks to Iroquois Falls.
Iroquois Falls had been home to the Abitibi Eskimos since 1999 and despite leading the NOJHL in attendance in 2014-2015, team operators opted to move to the bigger, nearby town of Timmins effective the 2015-2016 campaign.
To be sure, not long after the Abitibi Eskimos became the Timmins Rock, the Iroquois Falls Eskis came into existence via the Mattawa Blackhawks. Basically, Iroquois Falls was never really without an NOJHL team.
Fast forward to early June when Donnan brought in Kevin Cain as a senior advisor to oversee his two NOJHL properties — the Eskis and the expansion French River Rapids. Just a few weeks prior, in late May, Cain had abruptly resigned as general manager of the Soo Thunderbirds after leading them to two NOJHL titles and two Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Central Canada championships from 2012 to 2015.
Now, with July almost here, the Eskis continue to build a new igloo with the hiring of a new head coach, a director of northern scouting, a director of southern scouting, a director of education and player promotion — and several player signings.
COREY BRICKNELL, HEAD COACH
A 39-year old from Port Perry, Bricknell has high-level experience as an assistant coach with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League and the Whitby Fury of the Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
As a player, Bricknell was a hard-nosed OHL defenceman from 1992 to 1995, suiting up for a pair of erstwhile teams, the Newmarket Royals and Niagara Falls Thunder. He then went on to play six seasons at the minor pro level.
GUY LOSIER, DIRECTOR OF NORTHERN SCOUTING
The 58-year old Losier grew up in Iroquois Falls and played minor hockey there before becoming an OHL star from 1975 to 1978 with the Windsor Spitfires and the old Niagara Falls Flyers.
In 182 OHL games, Losier scored 88 goals, 122 assists, 210 points. He then played pro hockey in Holland where he lit it up over one season with 63 goals, 56 assists, 119 points in 40 contests.
After retiring as a player, Losier returned to his area roots in nearby Hearst, where he has coached at the midget level while maintaining employment as the town’s recreation director.
MATT HOFFMAN, DIRECTOR OF SOUTHERN SCOUTING
A Memorial Cup champion from his playing days as a high-scoring winger with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, the 43-year old Hoffman went on to play 11 seasons in the minor pro ranks, including time in the United Kingdom.
Hoffman’s best OHL season was the 1990-1991 campaign when he scored 41 goals, 58 assists, 99 points. A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Hoffman also became a National Hockey League draft pick of the Calgary Flames.
He is a member of the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame.
DAN DUBE, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION AND PLAYER PROMOTION
A former scoring leader with the erstwhile Abitibi Eskimos during the 2006-2007 NOJHL season, the 28-year Dube later returned to his hometown of Iroquois Falls to take a teaching job.
He also gained experience as an assistant coach with the Abitibi franchise that has since relocated to Timmins and will begin play as the Rock in 2015-2016.
The Eskis recently inked three players for the 2015-2016 season.
They are 1996 birth-year goalie Dan Davies, formerly of the Dundas Blues of the Niagara District Jr. C Hockey League, and a pair of holdovers from the 2014-2015 Mattawa team — 1995 birth-year goalie Josh Horner and 1996 birth year forward David Osborne.
Earlier, the Eskis signed two local products who they acquired in a cash exchange with the Timmins Rock — 1996 birth-year defenceman Josh Dejulio and 1996 birth-year forward Kezmin Madden.