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Jr. A Hockey returning to Sturgeon Falls

Former Nipissing Alouettes head coach Lui Ricci (far left) is bringing junior hockey back to Sturgeon Falls after a one year leave of absence. File photo. After a year-long absence from the GMHL following the folding of the Nipissing Alouettes, Jr.
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Former Nipissing Alouettes head coach Lui Ricci (far left) is bringing junior hockey back to Sturgeon Falls after a one year leave of absence. File photo.

After a year-long absence from the GMHL following the folding of the Nipissing Alouettes, Jr. ‘A’ hockey will be making its return to Sturgeon Falls.

It was announced on Wednesday afternoon that the “Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks” will compete in the non-sanctioned Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, after the club formerly owned by Gerry St-Onge took a leave of absence last summer.

“If I wasn’t going to do it, I’m sure someone else was going to do it down the road. The community around Sturgeon Falls is fantastic,” said owner Lui Ricci who coached the Als before the LOA.

“If you put a good product on the ice, people will come see it.”

Ricci believes junior hockey could work again in Sturgeon Falls, he pointed to the fact that the Sturgeon Falls Arena was filled with enthusiasm for the Franco Cité team during the recent NDA playoffs.

“If I saw that for High School hockey, we’re going to bring in players from around the world who want to play…there’s no reason they can’t get three of four hundred people in the arena to support junior hockey.” Ricci said.

However, there is some controversy here as Ricci also owns the Powassan Dragons. But he stresses it’s nothing new; the GMHL league itelf owned four teams last season, two of which (Algoma Avalanche & Elliot Lake Bobcats) have been sold to Ryan Leonard the coach of the Bobcats.

The GMHL has a rule to prevent unfairness among multiple owners, that they cannot make more than 2 transactions a year between any of their teams.

One might think it could be difficult to find enough players to Ice two teams, but Ricci doesn’t think that will be the case with Powassan and Sturgeon Falls.

“There have already been a few American kids talking,” Ricci said. “They want to come to Sturgeon Falls and play.”

Even though he’ll own the Sturgeon Falls and Powassan teams, Ricci will not operate the both of them. Dean Harvey, a former North Bay Centennial and Assistant Coach with last season’s Dragons, will take over the day-to-day operations of the Lumberjacks.

The team will have a gold, black and white color scheme, similar to the Pittsburgh Penguins (and West Nipissing Minor Hockey). The logo will be based on the the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL, and is due to be released soon



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