Schooners Jr A Hockey

Wiarton Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Zoe Kessler Ed­i­tor

The Wiar­ton Schooners plan to sail into Wiar­ton next sea­son to fill the gap left by the Rock, the Greater Metro Hockey League ju­nior A hockey team that re­cently folded.

John and Beth Dyer of Pike Bay will be at the helm of the freshly minted GMHL ju­nior A team when it takes its in­au­gu­ral voy­age af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with the town are done.

The Dy­ers were train­ers for the Wiar­ton Rock and bil­leted sev­eral play­ers.

“They’re my boys,” Beth Dyer said in an in­ter­view Jan. 3.

When the Dy­ers learned the Rock had dis­solved, they helped find new teams for play­ers and hatched a plan to res­ur­rect ju­nior A hockey in Wiar­ton.

The own­ers of the Schooners, in­clud­ing a third per­son with a 10 per cent stake in the team who will han­dle the fi­nances, all grew up in small towns.

“We all grew up go­ing to Satur­day night hockey games. If not, you were out skat­ing,” Dyer said.

John Dyer played in var­i­ous leagues over the years, in­clud­ing AA and AAA ju­nior hockey, and for the se­nior Elora Rocks of the WOAA.

Beth Dyer, a part-time teacher and his­tory buff, said the team name was cho­sen to re­flect the rich nau­ti­cal his­tory of the area, as well as the “fast, light but strong” qual­i­ties of a schooner.

The Dy­ers have sub­mit­ted a pro­posal to South Bruce Penin­sula of­fi­cials.

“The fi­nan­cial part has to be solid or the team isn’t solid,” Beth Dyer said. “We were pre­par­ing for break­ing even for a cou­ple of years.”

But the fo­cus will be on com­mu­nity hockey.

“It re­ally is a com­mu­nity team,” Dyer said. “We just want every­one to have fun.”

Coun­cil voted unan­i­mously Jan. 3 to have staff draft a con­tract to present to the own­ers af­ter the Dy­ers’ pro­posal was dis­cussed.

“The league it­self, the GMHA, is ex­tremely keen on Wiar­ton,” said Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son. “They re­al­ize that this is def­i­nitely a hockey town and judg­ing by the at­ten­dance they had for the Wiar­ton Rock, given the sit­u­a­tion and the fact that they weren’t a win­ning team, that in­di­cated to them that there’s an aw­ful lot of ex­cite­ment and in­ter­est in hav­ing a ju­nior A team here in Wiar­ton.”

Jack­son said about 100 peo­ple turned out for the Rock’s games in spite of con­sis­tent losses.

Coun. Matt Jack­son said he wanted to make sure lo­cal leagues were kept top-of­mind in re­gard to ice time.

The mayor and coun­cil­lors (Deputy-mayor Jay Kirk­land was ab­sent) agreed that the area’s ex­ist­ing leagues have to come first, but Mayor Jack­son said, “there’s plenty of room for ev­ery­body.”

Christo­pher Chen, man­ager of fi­nan­cial ser­vices for the town, laid out a num­ber of stip­u­la­tions to be in­cluded in a three-year ice rental con­tract with the team, in­clud­ing a $5,000 se­cu­rity deposit to be re­funded at the end of the con­tract or ap­plied to­wards the last bill and $5,000 upon sign­ing as a debit ac­count to cover fu­ture in­voices.

Chen said the town’s re­cre­ation pro­gram­mer had reached out to mi­nor hockey and the the adult league to avoid schedul­ing con­flicts.

Home games were pro­posed for Satur­days, 7:30– 10:30 p.m., with al­ter­nate game times on Fri­day evenings or Sun­day af­ter­noons.

Spon­sors might be a bit hes­i­tant af­ter the Rock folded early, Mayor Jack­son noted in an in­ter­view af­ter the coun­cil meet­ing.

“I think it’s hard on ev­ery­body when the team doesn’t com­plete the sea­son,” she said. “There are peo­ple that put some money and some in­ter­est into the team and when they don’t ful­fill that obli­ga­tion, then it’s go­ing to be, I think, a bit of a rough road.”

Jack­son added that Wiar­ton is a “for­giv­ing” and “an ex­tremely sup­port­ive com­mu­nity.”

“I think when they re­al­ize that it’s a brand new team com­ing in with a whole new phi­los­o­phy and per­spec­tive, I think our spon­sors and the lo­cal busi­nesses are go­ing to stand be­hind them. I re­ally hope that they do. But if there’s any­thing that we can do as a town to help that tran­si­tion, we’d be happy to do that.”

Beth Dyer said the cou­ple had al­ready reached out to some lo­cal busi­ness own­ers who had sup­ported the Rock in the past.

“Things are good,” she said.

“It’s go­ing to help a lot that it is a lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion. It’s al­ways best to keep it within your own com­mu­nity,” Mayor Jack­son said. “Sec­ond time I think is go­ing to be the charm.”

The GMHL cur­rently fields 11 teams in the North Di­vi­sion and 11 teams in the South Di­vi­sion, ac­cord­ing to Chen’s re­port. In 2016-17, two GMHL teams folded, the Brace­bridge Blues and the Wiar­ton Rock.

Sub­mit­ted Photo

John (fourth from the left) and Beth Dyer, own­ers of the Wiar­ton Schooners, a newly formed GMHL ju­nior A team look­ing to startup in Wiar­ton this year, posed with play­ers from the now de­funct Wiar­ton Rock team at their home in Pike Lake, where five of the Rock mem­bers were bil­leted, Nov. 19.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.