It’s been a long time coming. After last season was delayed, and eventually cancelled due to the pandemic, Huntsville’s community hockey team will be lacing up for a return to the ice this Wednesday for the team’s traditional blue and white game.
The Junior C Otters organization has been working hard to recruit and build their team for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
“Looking forward to finally having hockey back,” said Otters general manager, Marc Gagnon. “I am really happy with the total effort the staff did over the summer. Recruiting was priority number one. It showed with the number of prospects that came out.”
The team held three prospect skates this summer with their main skate camp last weekend. Gagnon said there was a good turnout and the staff was pleased to see the competitiveness on the ice. The team has some returning players but tough decisions will be made this coming week to build the final roster of players.
The organization has welcomed some new coaching experience which will definitely benefit the team.
Andrew Shipley returns this season as head coach. His new coaching assistant is Hayley Masters from Barrie who brings experience playing with the Toronto Midget Aeros, the Mississauga Junior Chiefs, Team Ontario Red & Blue, Team Canada U18 Development Camp, Northeastern University NCAA Division 1, and EC Bergkamen, a top-tier women’s professional team in Europe.
The second coaching assistant for the team is Huntsville native, Jon Percival, who played for the Junior C Otters in the past. “Looking forward to having a local coach as well,” Gagnon said.
In addition to the new bench staff, Tom Pethick has been brought on as the team’s player development coach. Pethick will work with the coaching staff to enhance the program with his experience coaching AAA most of his career.
Dave Wilding from Parry Sound bring lots of hockey experience to his new position as director of scouting and player personnel.
The Otters are also excited to welcome their new game-day master of ceremonies, Matt Reisler from The Moose radio station.
Barry Parish will be returning to the team as assistant general manager with his decades of experience and wisdom. Bryan Villeneuve will be the team’s video coach while Sofia Villeneuve will be the team’s photographer.
On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, the Otters will host what was once known as their annual Blue and White hockey game. The puck drops at 8 p.m. at the Jack Bionda Arena. Admission is a $5.00 donation to Community Living Huntsville. There will be screenings at point of entry per Ministry of Health guidelines and capacity limits.
“I can’t wait to see our fans back in the stands,” added Gagnon.
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