Nanaimo gets junior B hockey team
The Nanaimo Buccaneers won't win every game, but they plan to take their unfair share of them.
The city's new junior B hockey team swashbuckled its way onto the scene Tuesday with a press conference at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. The Buccaneers will join the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League in time for the 2012-13 season.
"It'll be great," said Brenda Levesque, who owns the team along with her husband Phil. "Our first goal is to fill the rink on opening night and the rest will come from that. If we provide good entertainment, they'll come back and that's what we're looking to do."
The Levesques, who formerly owned the Kerry Park Islanders of the VIJHL, have been working for more than a year to bring junior B hockey to their hometown of Nanaimo. The final step was approval from B.C. Hockey, which came down this past weekend.
"We were pretty hopeful that it would go our way," Brenda said. "B.C. Hockey is pretty definite in the steps you need to take to get a team and we fulfilled all the obligations."
The Bucs unveiled their logo and their yellow, black and white colour scheme Tuesday.
They also officially announced their hockey operations staff. Brad Knight is the team's coach and general manager and Glen Smith will be assistant coach. Brenda said Knight is a passionate man and a players' coach.
"He is pretty tough on the kids, he expects them to be in good physical shape, he expects them to toe the line, show up for practice on time and be ready to play and I think that's good leadership."
Knight has coached at the junior A and junior B level in the past and most recently coached Nanaimo's North Island Silvertips major midget team. He said he loves the idea of building a new team from scratch.
"Patience and planning is what makes you successful…" he said. "September's going to be a real crapshoot but come October we want to play .500 hockey and hopefully by November we're starting to gear towards more of a winning percentage."
The Bucs will hold a prospects camp in mid-June, but even now, Knight has some ideas about the brand of hockey he wants to see.
"No. 1 we're going to work hard. No. 2 we're going to be wide open…" he said. "It's not about winning in September, it's about entertaining in September. We'll find our ways to win but I want to be wide open, I want to be offensive, I want to have kids in the top 10 scoring, I want to have defencemen pinching."
There will be lots of local flavour to the team, he said, and league president Greg Batters said that's one of the best reasons to have junior B hockey in the city.
"It's nice to have a team in Nanaimo where these kids can sleep in their own beds, their folks and friends can come and watch them play on a regular basis."
ICE CHIPS … The Nanaimo Buccaneers will play their home games Thursday nights at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. The team will play in the VIJHL's North Division along with the Oceanside Generals, Comox Valley Glacier Kings and Campbell River Storm … Phil Levesque said the Buccaneers name is a nod to history, as Nanaimo had a junior B hockey team in the 1970s called the Buckaneers … Players born in 1992-95 interested in participating in Buccaneers prospect camp can e-mail the club at email@example.com.