The Avon River Rats are looking to pick up where the Windsor Royals left off.
With the Junior B team on hiatus for one year, newly appointed River Rats head coach Rick Purcell says he’s trying to book some ice time in Windsor, as well as Brooklyn, to create a larger fan base for Junior C hockey in the local area.
“We’re looking… to rejuvenate and keep junior hockey in the Windsor and Brooklyn area. That is our main objective — I would very much hate to see 17, 18-year-old kids finish Midget hockey and have no place to play.”
Purcell, a former Midget AA and high school hockey coach, signed on to lead the Avon River Rats this month, when it appeared the local Junior C team would also be taking a leave of absence from its league after losing its president and coaches.
A shortlisted roster of River Rats players is scheduled to face off against Barrington at the Newport and District Rink in Brooklyn Sept. 28 at 8:30 p.m.
Purcell predicts the majority of the team will be comprised of players with roots in Hants County.
“Part of our mission is to support local talent,” he said.
The Windsor resident says he intends to use his expertise to improve the 50/50 win-loss record that the River Rats recorded last season.
“I expect quite a bit. I watched some of the games last year, I know some of the players and I know the competition a little bit, and I feel very confident that we will have a competitive team,” he said.
The Avon River Rats were eliminated in the first round of playoffs last season. Purcell says he’d like a longer season this year.
“I expect to go into the playoffs with the possibility of advancing.”
Following the Sept. 28 home opener, the River Rats will have home ice advantage on Sunday, Sept. 30 against the Shannon Huskies at 1 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 6, they will travel to the South Shore to play the Wild at 8:30 p.m. The next day, Sunday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m., they will host the Spryfield Silver and Black Attack.
Full schedule details can be found online at the official site of the Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League (www.nsjrchl.com).