Deseronto Storm Update

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Deseronto Storm Update

Pending final approval from the Ontario Hockey Association, the Empire B Junior C Hockey League is going back to a six-team loop.

The Deseronto Storm, after six years in the renegade Greater Metro Hockey League, are moving into the Empire League. They’ll join the Campbellford Rebels, Picton Pirates, Napanee Raiders, Amherstview Jets and Port Hope Panthers.

It appears to be a good fit for both sides.

"I think it’ll be a good fit for us," said Kevan Dever, the Storm’s GM and assistant coach. "Everything we’ve heard (in town), our fans are looking forward to it. We think we’ve got a good thing."

Dever cited travel costs as the main reason for changing leagues. The 13-team GMHL last season included Northern Ontario teams in Algoma, Temiscaming, Sturgeon Falls, Elliot Lake and Mattawa. "Our travel costs have just been outrageous," Dever said.

The Empire League, which has been down to five teams for the last two seasons after the Frontenac Flyers folded following an 0-40 season in 2009-10, wanted to return to six teams.

"We really feel we do need a sixth team," said Napanee Raiders president, Morris Hart. He also admitted there was some anxiety from Napanee, Amherstview and Picton about Deseronto recruiting players from their area. Hart said those fears were quieted by an agreement from the Storm to stay away from both Prince Edward County and Lennox and Addington — for both players and sponsorship money.

Hart said he expects the OHA to give its blessings to the move, no later than the annual general meeting on Father’s Day weekend (June 16-17). Dever said it could come earlier, perhaps next month.

The Storm have had both good and bad times in the GMHL as one of the league’s founding teams in 2006. The GMHL was blacklisted by the OHA because it operates independent of Hockey Canada membership.

Deseronto won the GMHL championship in 2009-10. A year later, after a 23-18-0-1 regular-season record and posting one playoff series win over the Bobcaygeon Bucks, the franchise came within a week of folding.

A group headed by Adam Maracle, now the team president, stepped up to purchase the Storm for $15,000 from the Town of Deseronto just days before a dispersal draft of Deseronto players was to be held.

Maracle is now the head coach.

The Storm took the Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks to a fifth and deciding game in the second round of the playoffs this year. It was the best test the Lumberjacks would get before going on to take the league championship.

The Deseronto Storm are the seconf team to leave the GMHL this year. The Elliot Lake Bobcats also left for greener pastures in the NOJHL.

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