St. Stephen – If the resident of St. Stephen and Charlotte County want the Garcelon Civic Center (GCC) to roar with Maritime Hockey League (MHL) fans on Friday nights, it’s going to take commitment, desire, and a complete team effort.
The journey to bring the MHL back to town starts Sunday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. with a community rally at the GCC. Residents, business operators, community groups, and hockey fans, are invited to attend to let share their thoughts, have opinions heard, and support to be counted.
“Our community and the MHL are a perfect fit,” said Mayor Allan MacEachern. “It’s really hitting hard right now. The junior A season is underway and for the first time since the Garcelon Civic Center opened, we’re on the sidelines.”
MacEachern says he is a catalyst in the effort to bring a junior A team back to St. Stephen, but stresses that the real work and ownership has to be felt throughout the community.
“St. Stephen is a great hockey town – a great sports town,” said MacEachern. “Yes, I want to see a junior A team here, but this isn’t about one voice or a small group of organizers. This is about our community. It’s time to ask ourselves, ‘Do we want this?’ And if the answer is, ‘yes,’ then we need to work together to make it happen.”
St. Stephen had an MHL team – the beloved St. Stephen Aces – from the 2014/2015 season through 2018/2019. MacEachern said the Aces were great for the town, and while that franchise was ultimately sold, MacEachern remains convinced St. Stephen is an MHL town.
“Our arena was full and loud on game nights. Businesses got a boost from junior A hockey. Our community felt the positive impact of the young men who left home and chose our town to live for eight months of the year as they followed their hockey dreams,” the mayor said.
The Sunday, Sept. 29 meeting is essential to see how many people will support a team. Numbers matter to measure the interest in an effort to establish a new team. That could include a request that potential season ticket holders pay a small, fully-refundable deposit as a concrete demonstration of the community’s commitment.
“There are lots of people in our town and throughout Charlotte and Washington counties who want the opportunity to watch high-level junior hockey here at our arena,” said MacEachern.
“We also know that the support we need is bigger than the crowd at Friday night games. We need to build something together that we can be proud of for many years to come. We need support from all across the community, from a wide range of businesses and from a full team of volunteers.”
Want to show your support for the return of junior A hockey to the GCC? Make sure you show up on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the GCC. More information can be found on the website: http://ststephenjrahockey.org