Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Junior Jungle: UCC gets in the game

Neil Acharya's regular reports on the Provincial Junior Hockey A League has a name, for now.

The OPJHL will welcome a new team into the fold for the 08-09 season -- the Upper Canada Hockey Club will play their first game on the road against the Seguin Bruins, Sept, 6.

Beginning in November, UCHC will begin playing home games at a new arena being constructed on the campus of Upper Canada College.

There is no formal affiliation between the private school and the hockey club. The institution-team relationship will be similar to that of St. Michael's College and the Buzzers.

Until the finishing touches are in place on the new arena, the team will play home games in Ricoh Coliseum. Having to switch home rinks during the course of the season is just one of the obstacles coach Frank Stegnar is going to have to face.

“Forming this team only 2 weeks ago, we have a tremendous job a head of us. Several GMs have contacted me wishing us well but at the same time not to envious of our situation. Being only the second team in OPJHL history to start this late before the season has been a challenge. However, the ownership has been tremendous and supportive of our four-year plan. I do expect the team to use our speed and desire to succeed to our advantage.”

Stegnar was an assistant coach for two seasons with the Toronto Junior Canadiens.
The team will be sporting blue, yellow and red sweaters this season and is slotted in the new Phillips Division.

Some might be quick to assume that because many high powered teams have joined the Central Division, a young team like UCHC may have picked a good year to enter as an expansion team.

Stegnar quickly puts the notion to rest, “I’d say (it is going to be) more of a learning curve and developmental cycle for the young men of UCHC. With strong teams such as Aurora in our division, any mistakes we make will be quickly capitalized on with opponents such as them."

The team was purchased in the off-season by a Toronto-based ownership group. Prior to the purchase, the club was known as the Bancroft Hawks and last played in the OPJHL in 2006-07.

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