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NOJHL announces transfer of Iroquois Falls franchise to Hearst for 2017-18 season

SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League announced Saturday that its Board of Governors has approved the request, pending approval from the NOHA, OHF, CJHL and Hockey Canada, to relocate the Iroquois Falls Eskis franchise to Hearst, Ont., effective immediately, heading into the 2017-18 season.

The decision was made during the NOJHL’s Spring Congress in Sudbury following a deal that was secured by a proposed group in Hearst, led by Jonathan Blier that reached an agreement in principle with the Iroquois Falls ownership headed by Allan Donnan to transfer the Eskis franchise.

Set to play out of the Claude Larose Recreation Centre in Hearst, the venue features a complex that includes two arenas with the main Claude Giroux surface having a capacity of 1,230 for hockey.

“We welcome Hearst to the NOJHL and we are very excited about the potential with our newest market,” offered NOJHL Commissioner Robert Mazzuca.

“It’s well known the Hearst area is a tremendous hotbed of hockey in northern Ontario and we look forward to working with Jonathon Blier and his community-based ownership group as we make the transition heading into the 2017-18 season,” added Mazzuca.

“We would also like to thank all those in Iroquois Falls for their support of Jr. A hockey over the years and hope an opportunity arises in the not too distant future for the return of the NOJHL to Jus Jordan Arena.”

Hearst team president Jonathon Blier offered his comments on the pending arrival of the NOJHL to his community.

“After a year and a half of hard work and pending approval from the governing bodies, Hearst is proud to be part of the NOJHL’” stated Blier.

“We are determined to offer a first class organization, which the town of Hearst, its region and the NOJHL will be proud of,” said the man helping heading up the franchise.

“I would like to extend a special thanks to all the people that have contributed to making this possible, especially Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers, who wanted this for his hometown.”

“I’d also like to thank Commissioner Mazzuca for his involvement in making this happen. We can guarantee that the people of Hearst and its region will stand behind their team and it will be exciting for other teams to witness the atmosphere that the Hearst fans will bring. It’s an important day in Hearst’s long tradition of hockey and together, we are up for the challenge and ready to tackle the large amount of work to be done,” summarized Blier.

Allan Donnan of the Eskis also expressed his thoughts on the transfer of the team to the group in Hearst.

“To all of the loyal fans of the Eskis team that supported us, game in and game out, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks. To the volunteers, sponsors, billet homes and booster club I enjoyed the time spent in Iroquois Falls and hope that at some point a team does return to the amazing Jus Jordan Arena.”

Further information on the Hearst franchise, such as the team name, staff appointments, website and contacts will be announced in the coming weeks.

To learn more about the NOJHL, visit the league website at nojhl.com or via social media at @NOJHL or facebook.com/NOJHL.

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