Park the moving vans. The Cochrane Crunch junior hockey team is staying put.
Owner-GM-coach Ryan Leonard confirms that, and is saying publicly for the first time that Plan B was a move down the highway to Iroquois Falls.
Three weeks ago, Leonard issued an ultimatum to the people of Cochrane to step up and billet hockey players in their homes or the team would leave town.
“You know, we put the big public plea out,” he says, “because without homes you can’t have a hockey team, especially when you have to billet 24 or 25 players in a community.”
The team was short 19 homes, but now only needs four.
Now Leonard is confident that Cochranites will buy season tickets.
“Everybody’s saying they’re waiting to see if the team’s staying and that’s why we haven’t reached those numbers. So we’ll see if they’re true to their word.”
Leonard says this coming season will determine whether Cochrane can sustain a junior team. Corporate support is not enough to survive, so he wants season tickets to top 175 – it currently stands at 78 — and for crowds at the Tim Horton Event Centre to be bigger than they have been.
“I’m not asking for seven, eight-hundred fans here,” he explains to My Timmins Now Dot Com. “We’re talking we want to see 400 people in the stands, which for me is a minimum realistic goal for a community this size and a team of this calibre.”
Among the Crunch’s triumphs in its five years in Cochrane have been two trips to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada championship tournament.