(Photo courtesy of the AJHL)

Junior A Hockey coming to Blackfalds in 2021-22 season

Red Deer business owner Doug Quinn is owner and head coach of the new team

The worst kept secret in junior hockey is out of the bag.

Wednesday, the Alberta Junior Hockey league confirmed what was long speculated– that a Junior A hockey team would be relocating to Blackfalds.

The AJHL Board of Governors approved the transfer of ownership of the Calgary Mustangs to local business owner and head coach of the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs, Doug Quinn.

The new club will play its inaugural season in the expanded Blackfalds Multi-Plex in the 2021-22 season.

“The AJHL is enthused about the opportunity to bring a team into a new Alberta community and add another first-class facility to the League,” said AJHL Commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk in a press release.

“We are confident that Mr. Quinn and the Town of Blackfalds will provide a successful new home for the Alberta Junior Hockey League. I would also like to recognize the significant commitment and contributions of the Calgary Mustangs and thank the organization for their efforts in securing the future of the franchise in Blackfalds.”

The Mustangs were granted a two-year leave of absence from the AJHL in May.

In June, the Blackfalds Wranglers, who play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League, announced a move to nearby Sylvan Lake. At the time, Wranglers GM Kurt Spady said the move was a result of the prospective Junior B team moving to Blackfalds.

Near the end of the month, a report from Town of Blackfalds CAO Myron Thompson suggested a Junior A team was on the horizon.

“An owner, whom Administration has been working with over the past number of months, is well situated to finalize acquisition of a team for relocation to Blackfalds,” the report read.

“Process for purchasing of the team is in the final stages and discussions have taken place with the league seeking a 2-year hiatus for the team that will be brought here anticipating that the arena complex would be available.”

At the time, the AJHL said they had not received a change of ownership request.

Earlier this summer, the Town of Blackfalds also approved a plan to expedite construction on the Multi-Plex expansion and are now expected to start work in the spring of 2020.

“The Town of Blackfalds is excited to welcome an AJHL team, under the ownership of Doug Quinn, to our community. The caliber of hockey coming out of the expanded Multi-Plex Arena in 2021 will provide tremendous opportunities for our youth – and young at heart – to not only inspire their hockey careers, but to also watch their community team in action,” said Mayor Richard Poole in a release.

Al Parada, another local business owner in Red Deer will serve as the Director of Operations for the new AJHL member.

Quinn, who will coach the new AJHL group, has coached the Optimist Chiefs in eight of the last 10 seasons. Under his eye, they have won five Alberta championships, three pacific championships and two Telus Cup National Midget AAA titles.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to bring a Junior A team to Blackfalds,” said Owner and Head Coach Doug Quinn in a press release.

“It is a growing and dynamic community, which has shown tremendous support with their commitment to build a new arena. On behalf of myself and the rest of the team, I can guarantee we will be highly motivated and committed over the next two years to build the best culture and team we can. We can’t wait for the rink to be built so we can finally give Blackfalds the Junior A team they have been waiting for.”

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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