CARP – It’s finally warming up outside, but inside the W. Irskine Johnston Arena, it’s going to be an Inferno.
For the first time in West Carleton history, the community will be hosting a junior hockey team.
Owner, president and general manager John Miotla has done his research and couldn’t be happier to be bringing the Inferno Junior Hockey Club to West Carleton.
The Inferno play in the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) a 12-team league surrounding the Ottawa area. The league, founded in 1969, is a member of Hockey Canada. Games are played Friday, Saturday and Sunday allowing for players to attend college and university or work while still playing competitive hockey in an organized league governed by Hockey Canada.
The new West Carleton team came in to existence following the demise of the NCJHL’s Blackburn Inferno.
Miotla learned the team was for sale last September, did his research and brought the team to West Carleton.
“This seemed like the perfect place,” Miotla told West Carleton Online. “It’s a great arena. It’s nice, bright with big dressing rooms. There’s a lot of talent out here and those players don’t have a place to play. All the paths led here. Everyone we talk to says ‘I don’t know why we haven’t had a junior team here before.’ They love the idea. There’s been a lot of support.”
The Inferno play a 34-game season in the Junior C league. Junior C is becoming known as a solid alternative league to continue a competitive hockey career. It is not as costly for players to be a part of, but with a high level of competition.
“Junior C is becoming a real sweet spot,” Miotla said. “Players graduating out of midget don’t have a lot of options. Jr. A and B has become pay to play which has thinned out a lot of players. Junior C offers players something different. Hockey is important to them, but not necessarily the only thing they have going on in their lives. Players can develop some friendships and some positive memories.”
Miotla hopes to attract players from West Carleton, Kanata, Almonte and Arnprior but can really draw from anywhere.
At the beginning of May, Miotla hired head coach and associate general manager Hamish Fraser to lead his first-year franchise. Fraser has 14 years coaching experience including seven years at the Junior B level in the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Canadian Central Hockey League 2, winning two division championships and being awarded the EOJHL Coach of the Year honours in 2012-2013 while coach and GM of the Jr. B Perth Blue Wings.
“I had a blast and I developed the sense I could coach,” Fraser told West Carleton Online. “Kids didn’t quit, they kept coming back year after year.”
Fraser says he’s a players’ coach.
“The relationships I develop with the players has always been my strength,” Fraser said. “When kids are done playing hockey they are inviting me to their weddings, I am meeting their kids.”
The Inferno have already partnered with West Carleton Minor Hockey and hope to help grow the sport at all ages.
“Anything we can do to support the minor association makes us both stronger,” Miotla said. “We want to work with pee wee, up.”
With the organization and hockey operations in place, Miotla and Fraser are turning their focus towards players. The Inferno have reserved the four Tuesdays in August at the Beckwith arena to hold conditioning camps. The regular season starts the first week of October.
“We want the best local players first,” Miotla said. “We want guys who will show up for games, show up for practice and show some commitment.”
Meanwhile, Miotla is also looking to arrange sponsorship and promotions.
“Most of our games are Saturday evenings and some Sunday afternoons,” he said. “We are looking at some family-oriented promotions. I have no doubt it will be successful. It just takes time.”
Children under 12 can attend games for free. Adults are $8 and seniors and students are $5. For more information on the West Carleton Inferno, click here.