Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Soo Junior A team to be named Eagles

Soo Evening News

SAULT STE. MARIE - Plans continue to progress for Junior A hockey to return to Sault Ste. Marie and Pullar Stadium.

The new franchise has selected a nickname and will be called the Soo Eagles. Tryout schedules have been set up in the Sault and in Brighton.

The Eagles will be comprised of student-athletes who have already completed high school, coach Paul Theriault said Wednesday during a team meeting at the Pullar. Team practices will be run in the mornings, allowing the players to attend college classes in the afternoons. Players could potentially take up to 11 college credits and still maintain full future college athletic status.

“We are looking for student-athletes who want to advance to the college hockey level, in Division I, II or III,” Theriault said. “I want to help young players improve their games and mature as young men. We can provide a great opportunity here. We will build our team with as much talent from our local district as we can, but they will all have to earn their spurs.”

Pullar Stadium will be home ice for the Eagles. A veteran of 14 Ontario Hockey League coaching seasons, Theriault said he is looking forward to return to the bench at the Junior A level, where he had his first head coaching job with the former Soo Indians in 1975.

“You could look around the world and not find a better facility than the Pullar,” Theriault said. “It's the perfect place to watch a hockey game.”

Open camp tryouts for the Eagles will be held at Kensington Arena in Brighton on May 17-18, and at Big Bear Arena in Sault Ste. Marie on June 13-14-15. Both camps are priority to high school graduates.

The local Junior A franchise was formerly the Soo Indians before folding operations in 2007 after winning the NOJHL title. The new team owner is Greg Eagle. He is a Sault native who now lives in Florida and is in the real estate business.

The Eagles are still ironing out a number of business matters, and will seek approval to re-enter the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League next month. The NOJHL season begins the first week of September and could potentially extend as late as early May.

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