The Nipissing Lakers Athletics and the North Bay & District Girls Hockey Association (NBDGHA) have officially joined forces.
While there has been a long-standing relationship between the two groups, the association, which has been around since 1998 and was formerly called the Ice Boltz, will now be known as the Junior Lakers.
The association voted for a change at its annual general meeting on Sunday where the new nickname won by a vote of 49 to 28.
See related: Goodbye to Ice Boltz
The new partnership will take effect to begin the 2023-24 season, with the NBDGHA grandfathering in the logo and colour change.
The two groups have worked together since the Lakers Women’s Hockey team was introduced in 2012-13 and a number of players have made the jump from the U18 AA team to the Lakers.
Lakers Women’s Hockey head coach, Darren Turcotte, is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead under the new partnership agreement.
"We are very fortunate to have had 19 players from the NBDGHA play for us over the course of our first 10 seasons and we look forward to many more in the future,” Turcotte said in a release.
“This partnership will allow the Nipissing Lakers to help promote girls hockey in the area and make North Bay a true high-performance city when it comes to playing against other Provincial teams.”
NBDGHA president, Mike Brideau, echoed Turcotte’s comments, noting the eagerness to move forward on this new venture.
“The North Bay & District Girls Hockey Association (NBDGHA) is excited to be teaming up with Nipissing Athletics and becoming the Jr. Lakers," said Brideau.
"This agreement will give our players the opportunity to develop not only their hockey skills, but life skills while being mentored by the Nipissing Lakers Women's Team. This is a win-win for both NBDGHA and Nipissing.
Brideau notes that the girls association is celebrating its 25th season.
"Why not start it off with being the Jr. Lakers," said Brideau.
"To help commemorate the Ice Boltz name, the new Jr. Laker jerseys will have an Ice Boltz logo on the shoulders.”
Lakers forward and assistant captain, Maggie McKee, is excited to work with the next generation of female hockey players and potential Lakers.
“Having the Ice Boltz transition to the Jr. Lakers is a great honour for our university and our team," she said in a release.
"Having the opportunity to work with the young girls on and off the ice while pursuing their hockey dreams the last couple of years has meant a lot to me as a Laker myself and now I believe the minor hockey program and university team will only continue to work together more often,” she added.
“The game of hockey only continues to grow in the north and in North Bay and I believe seeing more and more players in Lakers uniforms will only continue to grow the game. I know myself and the team can’t wait to see the minor hockey players in Laker uniforms this fall.”
It's not the first minor sports association to garner the Lakers' nickname.
Local club volleyball and club soccer teams have taken on the Lakers nickname on the court and on the pitch.