Trouble brewing for local Junior Bs

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Scott Campbell


Scott Campbell

SHAWVILLE – The Pontiac Juniors are currently preparing for their 29th season in the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League (EOJHL).  This may be the final season for Junior B hockey in Shawville due to changes expected in the EOJHL’s organization for the 2015 season.  Team President, Ryan Barber, held a meeting, August 14, at the Shawville Lions Hall to give details of the EOJHL’s proposed changes.
Started in 1966, the EOJHL is one of the biggest leagues in Canada.  “There are 22 teams in the league,” said Barber.  “Our conference is made of 11 teams.”  The commissioner of the conference has proposed creating a new league, with the Gatineau and Shawville teams eliminated due to geography.  The plan is to align EOJHL teams with the Central Canadian Hockey League Tier 1, which is Junior A Hockey.
“Junior B teams would be directly affiliated with Junior A.  Just like the Ottawa Senators have the Binghamton Senators, as their farm team, with this plan the Pembroke Lumberkings would have the Renfrew Timberwolves affiliated with them,” said Barber.  He noted that the new league would also increase fees significantly for players.  “Junior A hockey will have everything to gain, while we have everything to lose,” he added.
The Pontiac Juniors are currently considering filing a lawsuit.  “We are trying to raise an initial $10,000 for a lawsuit that may take a year or two to proceed, with a 50/50 chance of working.  We think that $10,000 is a small price to pay to save our team.  We need to look at the bigger picture:  we have a rink that needs income, a town that needs a team, employees at the rink etc. etc.  We also need fundraising ideas to generate income for the team,” he explained. 
Barber said any money raised will be documented to separate those funds from regular fundraising.  If nothing happens with the proposed changes or the lawsuit, the money will be refunded.
The team is open to public feedback.  “If people decide it’s not worth the challenge or the money, that’s OK,” said Barber.  “The Juniors will play this season and give it our best.  At the end, I will walk away with a clear conscience knowing that we did everything we could.  We just don’t think we should be kicked out of the league after 29 years,” he concluded.  
Input can be sent by email to rbarber9@hotmail.com or to chris.pontiacs@gmail.com.