SEGUIN TWP. - The hockey season is winding down, but Seguin’s new team is just getting started.
Roland Cilliers/North Star
Gary Astalos has been announced as the general manager and head coach for the as-yet-unnamed Greater Metro Hockey League team that will call the Humphrey Arena home. Experienced in the game of hockey, Astalos brings a wealth of background both on the ice and behind the bench.
He spent two years playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association for Eastern Michigan University, making the national all-star team both years. He has spent five years coaching competitive hockey, with two of those years spent at the junior level.
Astalos said he’s excited to get started building a good team that the community can be proud of.
“We want to compete for a championship right away,” said Astalos. “We’re going to have a good club, but at the same time we’re going to be involved off the ice. We’re going to be helping people shovel snow, we’re going to be out and about trying to help minor hockey as much as we can.”
From the day the new team was announced the organizers have stressed that the team will take its commitment to the community very seriously. To demonstrate this point, the team will be named through a “name your junior hockey club contest” where community members will be able to submit their ideas, and then prizes will be handed out for the best name and logo.
The agreement, between the hockey club and Seguin Township, will last four years and will mean around 270 hours of practice and game time on the ice at the arena throughout the year.
“We’re going to build a really good team in our first year, hopefully, with a lot of local players. We’re reaching out to a lot of local kids to sign,” Astalos said.
Players from all countries are eligible to play in the GMHL.
The presently unnamed team isn’t the first to call Humphrey home.
The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Seguin Bruins operated out of the arena for five years before folding in 2010. The team struggled to draw fans and produce sufficient income.
Despite that, Astalos said he believes Seguin is an excellent place for a junior ‘A’ hockey team and the arena is well set up for the team.
“I think it’s a hotbed. There’s a lot of guys who have come out of the Parry Sound area who have gone on to high levels, and I think Seguin needs a Junior ‘A’ hockey club for sure,” said Astalos.
A training camp for the team is expected to begin in August, with the season opener in September.
The GMHL is a league consisting of 15 teams in places including Bracebridge, Toronto, Rama and Bradford.