The vagabonds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have officially secured a home away from home arena for the balance of the 2023-2024 season. Hockey News North has confirmed that the Elliot Lake Vikings will play the remainder of their ‘home’ games at the Massey and District Community Centre effective a December 1 match against the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
With a seating capacity of about 235, the clean and cozy Massey and District Community Centre was nicely upgraded just over eight years ago. And it has recently been further enhanced to meet the standards of housing an NOJHL team.
The Vikings have been holding their practices 45 miles away from Elliot Lake at the Massey and District Community Centre since September when their home rink, Centennial Arena, was abruptly closed due to structural concerns. And now, the Vikings can finally play their ‘home’ games in Massey.
To be sure, it has been a back and forth story of good news and bad news for the new Vikings of Elliot Lake this season.
The good news began back in the summer when well-liked local resident Jef Jarmovitch purchased the NOJHL’s Elliot Lake franchise from its previous out of town operator. One of the first orders of business for Jarmovitch was to change the team name from Red Wings to Vikings. Notably, junior hockey made its debut in Elliot Lake in 1965 and from then until 1997, the team was known as the Vikings.
Fans and sponsors in Elliot Lake were quick to embrace the takeover by Jarmovitch through the purchase of season tickets and advertising. The good news continued through to the team’s ’23-24 regular season home opener on Sept. 9 when, in front to close to 500 fans at Centennial Arena, the Vikings stunned the reigning NOJHL champion Timmins Rock by a 6-5 score.
But the hoopla was short lived. Shortly after the Vikings home opener, Centennial Arena was suddenly and unexpectedly closed due to the aforementioned structural concerns. The 55 year old building remains closed though Jarmovitch, as the owner of the Vikings, has offered hope for next season.
“There is no real update on (Centennial Arena) except the (City of Elliot Lake) is shoring it up for winter and they need to do more tests. The engineer said that after initial inspection in September, Centennial Arena is in better shape than originally thought,” Jarmovitch relayed to Hockey News North.
Jarmovitch, meanwhile, gave kudos to the Township of Massey for doing all that It has done to accommodate the Vikings for the balance of this season.
“Absolutely, thanks to the Township of Massey,” an appreciative Jarmovitch relayed to Hockey News North. “They have put about $100,000 in upgrades (to the Massey and District Community Centre) for us. The Elliot Lake Vikings are looking forward to finally having a home this season.”
The Vikings currently have the worst record in the 12-team NOJHL with just 12 points from a record of 4-15-4. But that aside, at least they have a place to call a home away from home for the rest of the ’23-24 NOJHL season.