SUMMERSIDE — Paul Arsenault of Stanhope was introduced Thursday as the head coach of the Summerside IceFox of the Canadian Elite Hockey League (CEHL).
The team, which held a news conference in Summerside Thursday, said Newfoundlander Clyde Simmons will serve as the team’s director of marketing.
The CEHL will begin its inaugural season in October and will feature major junior, junior A and university graduates, along with semi pro-calibre players. The league is hoping to have an average age of 23-27.
The Dartmouth Destroyers, Cape Breton Crush and Saint John Scorpions are also part of the four-team league. Each team will play a 36-game schedule.
“Expectations for Year 1 is to have a balanced league,’’ said Harold MacKay, one of the league founders and owner of the Dartmouth franchise. “We have to make sure every team is competitive.’’
Tom Walker, promoter of the Summerside team, said a general manager, along with a board of directors, will be announced in early October.
Newly-appointed league commissioner Kirk Tomlinson was scheduled to attend, but was forced to cancel at the last minute for personal reasons. Tomlinson, who has a background in sports marketing, played professionally in the American, East Coast and United hockey leagues. He also coached and managed in the East Coast and United hockey leagues.
Arsenault and Simmons are no strangers to the Summerside hockey scene.
Arsenault was head coach of the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League for the 1999-2000 season, while Simmons played for the Capitals back in the 1980s in the old Island Junior A Hockey League.
“One of the great things about the team we will have this year is that most of the players will be from P.E.I.,’’ said Arsenault, a former long-time head coach at Concordia University in Montreal and pro coach in Europe. “I think the names will be recognizable, guys that have played for the (UPEI) Panthers or (junior A with) the (Charlottetown) Abbies or the (Summerside Western) Caps.’’
Teams are currently permitted six imports under Hockey Canada rules.
Simmons, who is also a member of the IceFox’s ownership group, is excited to be involved with the Summerside-based team.
Simmons, who lives in Corner Brook, Nfld., added the team and its mascot, which was also introduced, is looking forward to becoming active in the local community and establishing a team identity.
It was also announced that Cahill Stadium will be dubbed as the ‘Fox Den’ for home games.
Individual game ticket prices for the 2005-06 season will be $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and children under-12, accompanied by an adult and wearing a minor hockey jersey, will be admitted for a toonie, with all proceeds being donated to various community-based charities. Season-ticket packages will also be available.
The teams will wear European-style jerseys, including advertising.
The IceFox will open training camp at Cahill Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Summerside’s home opener is Saturday, Oct. 15, against Saint John.
“Initially we’re going to start out and feel our way through, but I think we will have good quality players,’’ said Arsenault. “As the league goes on we’re going to be capable of competing with anybody in the league.’’