With the Muskoka Lumber Community Centre set to open in the summer of 2024, brothers Dave and Ken Veitch Jr. want to bring the junior-C Bracebridge Bears back to play in the new arena.
“It’s something we grew up with,” says Dave.
Ken fondly remembers sitting in the chilly Bracebridge Memorial Arena every Friday night in the 70s and early 80s to watch the Bears play. “The arena was absolutely packed,” he says, noting he was a member of the ’82 team. At the time, the team was rivalled by clubs from Huntsville, Parry Sound, Midland, and Penatang. “It was a competitive division,” continues Ken.
The team disbanded in 1982 and Bracebridge hasn’t had a junior-C team since. “It was heartbreaking,” says Dave. “There was nothing to do on Friday nights.”
The hope is for the Bears to join the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) in time for the 2024-25 season.
However, before they hit the ice, the Veitchs say there is a lot of work to do.
First and foremost, they need to make a $5,000 downpayment to the PJHL. Once that happens, it will be a 15 to 20 days wait until they find out if they’re approved to join the league.
“I’m somewhat overwhelmed from the amount of feedback we’ve been getting from people,” says Dave. He adds word spread quickly and people have been reaching out, including sponsors as well as coaches and players from past Bears teams.
Ken explains that he expects there to be setbacks in the process, however, the process has been smooth and positive so far. He adds the coaching staff is already coming together.
An information session is being held Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Bracebridge Memorial Arena. Ken asks anyone interested in supporting the team to come out. “We need all your help,” he says.” We can’t do this ourselves.”
He says anyone that can’t make the meeting can email [email protected] or call 705-801-5900 for details on how they can be involved with the team.
“Go Bears go,” finishes Dave.