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Charlotte County Group Hopes To Score Junior A Hockey Team - Jul. 10, 2013

ST. STEPHEN -- Hockey fans in Charlotte and Washington Counties could soon have a chance to boo the Bearcats and watch the Slammers get slammed. High-quality JUNIOR A hockey could be coming to the Garcelon Civic Center in St. Stephen with the puck dropping as early as the fall of 2014.

"Our goal is to bring a Maritime Junior Hockey League team to the new civic centre," said John Hyslop, president of the organizing group that's shooting to bring a team to the border community. "The MHL is a successful and stable league, the hockey is excellent and a team here will be good for St. Stephen and all of Charlotte County and Washington Counties."

Hyslop said MHL teams are a positive force in communities. There are economic benefits, social benefits and the team will help boost civic pride. Education is an important component for the league since many players have ambitions to go on to play higher levels of hockey, including US or Canadian university hockey.

Players will also participate in community-building efforts, in schools and in minor hockey. And on game nights, hundreds of fans will be drawn to the civic center and neighbouring businesses on both sides of the border.

A group of hockey supporters and business people from around the county have formed the Charlotte County Hockey Club with Hyslop as President and Bob Sweeney, of St. Stephen, and Geoff Cunningham, of Pennfield, as Vice-Presidents. The group formed with the goal of bringing a new Junior A team to the region.

"Our organizing group has a lot of energy and enthusiasm," Hyslop said. "We are excited about the thought of a new team here playing in a beautiful new home rink in front of the best hockey fans in the Maritimes."

The group started meeting in late 2012 and has already put some major building blocks in place -- but there is a lot of work to be done. The first priority is building a business and hockey case to present to the league as an official application in early 2014. If all goes well, the puck could drop at the Garcelon Civic Center by September 2014.

At the top of the group's to-do list is lining up advertisers and sponsors to ensure the team has a solid economic foundation.

"We're going to be asking for support from all around our region. If we're going to make this happen, we have to make it happen together," Hyslop said.

There are two team fundraisers coming up --- a golf tournament at the St. Croix Country Club in Calais, Maine, on Saturday, July 27 and the popular Arenafest event, part of the 40th International Homecoming Festival, at the Border Arena on Saturday, Aug. 3.