The North Dundas Rockets will be the new kids on the ice when the hockey season resumes this fall.
Coached by Dale Murdoch of Morewood, the new Junior C franchise will be a member of the eight team National Capital Junior Hockey League.
Junior C hockey is not a stranger to the Chesterville area, says Murdoch. “In the early 80s there was a team in Chesterville,” he explained.
“It’s a couple of those players who are involved in the current startup.”
Murdoch says that he and the owners have recognized a need for Junior C hockey in this area.
“We have several Junior B teams surrounding us, but more and more they are using non-local players because of the competitiveness of the Junior B league. There is a need here for local minor hockey players to be able to progress into competitive hockey beyond minor hockey.”
“Many kids end up not playing hockey at all after minor hockey. There isn’t even any juvenile hockey anymore.”
In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Murdoch is the Rockets’ General Manager.
His first steps have been to line up his coaching staff and joining him behind the bench is Brian Downey of Morewood and Nick Pass of Winchester. Both played Junior A hockey after starting out locally at the Junior B level. Downey also experienced university hockey in the United States and played at the pro level in the former Colonial Hockey League.
The Rockets will play their home games on Sundays in Chesterville. They will play a 32 game schedule against teams from Vankleek Hill, St. Isidore, Cumberland, Embrun, Papineauville, Gatineau and Rockland.
“Our intention is to bus to games on the Quebec side of the league,” says Murdoch of the fairly hefty road trips.
The first home game for the Rockets is scheduled for October 2. As ice will not be ready in Chesterville for a number of weeks, the Rockets training camp will open at the Winchester Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 10. A second session has been set for Sunday, September 11 at 8 p.m.
Murdoch explains that the National Capital Junior Hockey League teams are able to protect only those players in their own minor hockey system.
“So we can protect North Dundas Minor Hockey. Embrun protects Embrun Minor Hockey players. Anyone who plays minor hockey in say, South Dundas or Kemptville, are basically free agents.”
Murdoch also explains, that while each team does have one 16 year old card, teams in the league do not use 16 year olds. “We are looking for 17 years olds and above. We are really looking for kids who have graduated from minor hockey. We really aren’t interested in taking players (17 year old midgets) from the local minor hockey systems.”
While walk-ons are welcome to the upcoming Rockets camp in Winchester, Murdoch says, as a time saving measure, he would like everyone to pre-register.
For more information or to register, he can be reached at 613-913-8266 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.