Sports

Temiscaming to take on new GMHL team

Wednesday, April 13, 2011   by: Devin Size Temiscaming Titans possible logo

For Jr ‘A’ hockey in Temiscaming, Quebec, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

The town has awarded the Centre’s ice-time contract for Junior ‘A’ hockey to the newest addition to the GMHL (Greater Metro Hockey league), the Temiscaming Titans. The Titans will be wearing blue black and white and are holding a spring training camp this weekend, April 15-18. The cost is $100, and includes two practices and two games with fitness testing and dry-land training.

The Titans are run by a group of local businessmen in Temiscaming, who are determined to see the GMHL return to Temiscaming to keep local hockey alive. The new GMHL expansion team has already named Nathan Hewitt as their Head Coach, who is excited to see this new franchise develop.

“I was put in touch with the team president Vincent Labranche,” explains Hewitt. “He said they were looking for a coach, and I was interested in coaching. I think it’s going to be awesome. I have a lot of friends in Temiscaming, it’s a wonderful community. I think everyone is going to support the new team and I’m excited to get started.”

Hewitt is a former North Bay Skyhawks, and Nipissing Lakers forward, and has assisted coaching with the Jr ‘A’ Trappers last season. Hewitt has a reputation for finding the twine, recording 53 points with the Skyhawks from 2004-2007, and 17 points in 20 games with the Lakers in the 2009-2010 season.

The Royals are in purgatory at the moment, deciding between selling the franchise or a possible move of the team. One area being mentioned is Kirkland Lake, but nothing has been declared official as of yet. Owner of the Royals, Steve McCharles says that although the team faced financial and recruiting difficulties, there’s more than meets the eye with the team’s leaving.

“I don’t think people know the facts of what went on through the year,” says McCharles. “We had outstanding challenges with respect to the team being in the NOJHL. With that being said, I don’t think people are aware what transpired here in Temiscaming."

"We had the challenges of inappropriate conduct of a staff member, and his interactions with the players, that basically created two teams within one dressing room. Something we never recovered from."

“We have emails and letters and we have had a number of players approach us with allegations, following the January 10th deadline, that point to there being a plot, having been put in place, to basically depreciate the value of my company and franchise and to cause the collapse of my business. Those involved included fans, players, parents and, the allegations made by these players, indicate that there may have possibly been members of Hockey Canada, at some level, involved to a degree. Most of this, is in black and white.”

The Royals started off as a GMHL team in 2007, as part of six expansion teams in the outlaw league’s second year. The team then joined the NOJHL for its last three seasons of play. For the Royals and their owner, it’s a matter of deciding to relocate or sell the team.

There is less restrictions in the GMHL, which could facilitate bringing players to Temiscaming to play Junior ‘A’. With the debut of the Titans, Hewitt realizes that he might face similar recruiting issues as the Royals, but believes through spreading the word and education, that he will be able to overcome the obstacles the GMHL teams have faced in the past.

“I’m already facing recruiting challenges," admitted Hewitt.

"There seems to be the ‘outlaw’ stigma that is attached to this league, based on false presumptions of negative consequences of coming out to this league. One of the challenges is educating people that this is not the case. We’re really open to players coming out to see what we’re all about. We’re in the business of developing players, that’s my focus, and we’re really excited about it.”

Players interested can register by contacting Vincent Labranche, at (819) 627-3085, or by email at temiscamingtitans@gmail.com.

A total of 80 spots are available for the camp.
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