CIHL moves into the Soo

Junior hockey is returning to Rankin Arena in Sault Ste. Marie after a 32-year hiatus.

Batchewana Attack has become the seventh team in the new Canadian International Hockey League, which will begin play effective the upcoming 2014-2015 season.

The Attack will be based out of Rankin Arena, which housed the Soo Thunderbirds of the erstwhile International Jr. B Hockey League from 1978 until 1982.

Sault Ste. Marie native David Maciuk is a major investor in the Batchewana team and will also serve as president and director of hockey operations for the Attack.

Maciuk, who played in the Ontario Hockey League for Soo Greyhounds during the 1973-1974 season before moving to Chicago where he was a high-scoring forward at the minor-pro level for a number of years, said the Attack will work closely with Batchewana First Nation, which operates Rankin Arena.

“We are grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to work with the Batchewana First Nation,” said Maciuk. “The support has been overwhelming on this endeavour and we look forward to starting our program for student-athletes throughout North America along with future programs to further attract and develop First Nation student-athlete hockey players.

“Our entire Attack organization is looking forward to a bright and long-term future working with the Batchewana First Nation and bringing the new CIHL to junior hockey fans in the Sault Ste. Marie area,” Maciuk added.

Meantime, Rankin Arena manager Dan Sayers Sr. is thrilled to have a junior hockey tenant.

“We are excited beyond belief to be working with the new CIHL and the Batchewana Attack,” said Sayers, who lauded CIHL president and founder Tim Clayden for instigating the deal to put a team into Rankin Arena.

“Tim has been instrumental in helping to bring junior hockey back to our First Nation facility,” said Sayers. “We look forward to working with the CIHL and hosting the Attack where players from throughout North America including Sault Ste. Marie and our First Nations will be equally welcomed.”

Clayden, from his end, said reaching a deal with Chief Dean Sayers and the Batchewana Band Council to play out of Rankin Arena was a “thorough process and beneficial to the parties involved.

“The CIHL is very proud to have an opportunity to work with the Batchewana First Nation. This is about non-native and native peoples working together in sport and is something that all involved can be very proud of.

“We wish to thank Batchewana First Nation Chief and Council for their approval and support of the CIHL and the Batchewana Attack hockey club. We would also like to thank Dan Sayers for his efforts in making junior at the Rankin Arena a reality. Chi-miigwetch,” said Clayden.

Clayden, who has spent a lifetime in junior hockey as a general manager and owner of teams, likes what the equally-seasoned Maciuk will bring to the CIHL as primary owner of the Batchewana franchise.

“The Attack ownership group is very strong led by David Maciuk, who I know will leave no ice pad unturned to find the best native and non native student-athlete hockey players throughout North America to provide a very competitive and exciting team for the entire area to take pride in. There is no doubt the Rankin Arena will be rocking this winter,” Clayden added.

During the 2013-2014 season, Rankin Arena was home to a regular-season game involving the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and drew in excess of 500 fans to the single outing.

“That was what got us looking at the Rankin in the first place,” said Maciuk, who now begins the process of hiring a coach-general manager for the Attack and recruiting area players for the 2014-2015 season.

Of note, the Attack will be forming a club community steering committee with the intent of establishing a direction that “best suits hockey fans from Batchewana First Nation and the Sault Ste. Marie area,” said Maciuk.

Those interested in being a part of the committee can contact the Attack front office via e-mail, info@soojuniorhockey.com.

With Batchewana on board, the CIHL now stands at seven teams as it prepares for its inaugural season.

Other teams are the Espanola Rivermen, St. Charles Spirit, Central Ontario HTI Stars, Colborne Cramahe Hawks, Milton Battle Arts Cobras and Collingwood Ice.

The CIHL — where Canadian and American players will share equal status as non-imports and teams can utilize as many 12 Europeans and unlimited 15-and-16-year olds — is part of the sanctioned United Hockey Union under the umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union.

Along with the CIHL, the Midwest Jr. Hockey League, Northern States Hockey League and Western States Hockey League are members of the UHU.

4 thoughts on “CIHL moves into the Soo

  1. LeJib

    Hey Armand5 – I believe the Voodoos are committed to the NOJHL, with an affiliation to the North Bay Battalion. Are you privy to something we’re not? – such as the Powassan entry changing leagues? Just curious.

  2. Armand5

    …thats what I meant – 9 for the NOJ. All these leagues now – you have to wonder where the players are coming from.

  3. LeJib

    If I read correctly, it seems the new CIHL has virtually no restrictions on ‘imports’, so can be almost totally stocked with Americans, Europeans, etc. I don’t know if that augers well for the NOJHL or not. I think they still have pretty tight restrictions on imports, including American kids, but on the other hand it may leave some pretty good quality Ontario players to be picked up by NOJHL teams. It promises to be a very interesting season to follow both leagues.(And we have the Battalion in our local mix also.)
    If anyone can shed more light on this player availability subject, knowledgeable comments will be appreciated.

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