Friday, June 29, 2007

Soo Indians will take one-year hiatus

Soo Evening News

The Stars and Stripes will not be represented this year in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League as the only American-based team takes a one-year leave of absence.

Coach Kevin Cain confirmed Friday that the local Junior A Soo Indians have been granted a one-year hiatus from the league. A local group of investors entered into negotiations to buy the Indians franchise from current team owner Charlie Perdicaro, but a deal could not be struck by Thursday's deadline at league meetings in Sudbury, Ontario.

“They basically ran out of time to put a deal together,” Cain said. “There is a local group which wants to buy the team, but there were some sticking points that couldn't be worked out in the amount of time available. Hopefully a deal can still be ironed out in the future which will suit all parties involved, and the team can have a fresh start for the 2008-09 season.”

One of the major sticking points was that the new group did not want to assume any past debts from the previously ownership, and the current asking price of the Soo Indians included some unpaid bills.

Cain, who guided the Indians to the NOJHL championship in his first year, said he was interested in returning as the team's coach in 2008 if the potential new owners want him back.

“I'd love to come back as coach,” Cain said. “That would be up to them (new owners), but I definitely would like to continue coaching the Indians if the opportunity is there.”

The Indians would like to play at least part of their future schedule at the Pullar Stadium, while ideally still operating out of the Big Bear Arena as well, Cain said. The one game the Indians played at the Pullar last year drew the best crowd of the season.

The NOJHL will have six teams for the 2007-08 season, including the Soo (Ontario) Thunderbirds, Abitibi Eskimos, Manitoulin Islanders, Blind River Beavers, North Bay Skyhawks and Sudbury Junior Wolves. The Indians became the first and only American team to win the league playoffs last season, advancing to the Dudley Hewitt Cup, which symbolizes Central Canadian Junior hockey supremacy.

“The league desperately wants the Soo Indians back,” Cain said. “I think there is a good opportunity to still have a Junior A team here in Sault, Michigan.”

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