An Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) team is officially Blackfalds bound.
As of 2021-2022, the Calgary Mustangs franchise will play their inaugural season under a new banner in what will then be the newly twinned Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena.
The announcement was made official on Wednesday, Oct. 23, as the AJHL Board of Governors announced they had had approved the transfer of the Mustangs’ ownership to Doug Quinn, as well as the relocation of the franchise to Blackfalds.
“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 joint release issued by the league and the Town of Blackfalds.
“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.”
Rumours the AJHL has been looking for a home in central Alberta have been circulating for over the past year. In June, with the understanding an AJHL team moving in was inevitable, the Blackfalds Wranglers Junior B team chose to relocate to Sylvan Lake, rather than the vie for ice time with an AJHL team.
Quinn, a former 90th-overall NHL entry draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks, is perhaps best known in central Alberta as the man behind Quinn’s Oilfield Supply Ltd.. Beyond growing the family business, he’s never strayed too far away from hockey, and has coached the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs in eight of the past ten years, which included winning five provincial championships, three Pacific Championships and two Telus Cup National Championships.
The plan is for him to bring that to the bench as the team’s head coach.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to bring a Junior A team to Blackfalds,” said Quinn. “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.”
Blackfalds is in the midst of getting going on their $20-million expansion project of the existing Multi-plex Arena, which will see the outdoor rink adjacent the arena enclosed, and seating capacity greatly improved, a plaza to be used for parking or other outdoor functions such as markets, among many other improvements. Construction is expected to start in Spring 2020 and completed for the start of the 2021 season.
Town of Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole welcomed the idea of such a team moving into the community.
“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. “We look forward to continuing the work with the new ownership; the leadership and desire that they have exhibited will create a wonderful partnership.
“We thank the AJHL, Doug Quinn and Director of Operations Al Parada for their support in bringing this Junior A hockey franchise to the most progressive and supportive town in Alberta.”
While some leagues – such as the Allan Cup Hockey West – have struggled with attendance, the AJHL has seen its attendance grow. Last year along, 365,000 fans attended AJHL hockey games across the province, which the league says is the highest attendance in the past five years.
The next meeting of the AJHL Board of Governors will be at the 2019 AJHL Semi-Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 23.