It is a new chapter for junior hockey in Sudbury under the watch of a philanthropic owner and his right hand man — fellow locals who represent a time honoured history in the game.
Formerly the Rayside Balfour Canadians, now the Greater Sudbury Cubs, this is a Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League team that is experienced in community leadership, management and coaching — and with sights set on a championship.
Recently renamed the Cubs and moving from the small confines of Chelmsford Arena on the outskirts of town to the more spacious, fan friendly Countryside Arena in Sudbury, owner Mark Burgess and managing director Blaine Smith have clear cut goals in mind for the bigger market NOJHL franchise.
“First off, our organization is very pleased to announce the rebranding and renaming of our junior A hockey team to the Greater Sudbury Cubs,” said Burgess, whose family owned the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League for 30 years before selling the team five years ago.
“Our family enjoyed the experience of operating championship teams in the past including the Nickel Centre Native Sons and the Sudbury Jr. Wolves. Our entire organization is focused and determined to provide local junior hockey fans with a championship team that Greater Sudbury hockey fans can be proud of,” added Burgess, whose family has generously sponsored and owned minor hockey teams in Sudbury for years — and saved the OHL Wolves from the brink of folding when they bought the franchise in 1987.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Blaine Smith, whose association with Burgess as a top lieutenant dates back more than 35 years to the days of the OHL Wolves, the gentlemanly executive is clearly looking forward to having the NOJHL Cubs playing out of Countryside Arena.
“Right now, we are limited to 50 per cent capacity in our facility as per public health and the provincial government and Chelmsford Arena only has a capacity of about 200, so we could only have allowed 100 fans into the building. By comparison, the Gerry McCrory Countryside Arena offers space for 900 spectators, which means we can now have 450 fully vaccinated fans to attend our games.”
Chair-back seating and ample parking only increased the appeal of the south end of Sudbury facility for the NOJHL team, Smith said, adding that the newer, more modern facilities and larger dressing rooms at Countryide will make for a better experience for players.
“We will continue to welcome our loyal fan base from Rayside Balfour to our games, in addition to all the outlying towns that make Greater Sudbury great,” Smith added. “Our goal is to create a family friendly experience with an exciting team, low cost admission tickets and a safe and comfortable environment for everyone to enjoy.
PLAYERS: The current roster of the Sudbury Cubs includes forwards Kyler Campbell, Alex Dillon, Pineshish Whiteduck, Cole Ambeault, Matthieu Morin, Gavin Brown, Jaxon Bedard, Ben Harris, Pierson Sobush, Cameron Shanks, Atley Gringorten and Billy Biedermann, defencemen Carter Geoffroy, Graeme Siren, Quinn Collins, Chris Innes and Cole Quevillon and goaltenders Joel Rainville and Jake Marois.
STAFF: Jeff Forsyth, general manager; Alain Gagnon, assistant general manager; Vagelli Sakellaris, head coach; Dave Clancy, associate coach; Eric Navarro, assistant coach/goalie coach; Bobby Chaumont, skills coach.