CHESTERVILLE – Hockey players can play junior hockey up until age 21 when they age-out of the Junior C level. But what if there was a league that offered competitive-level hockey for players age 21 and older in the area?
Chesterville-based hockey club, the North Dundas Rockets, announced January 19th that it was launching a new Rockets team to play in the upstart Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League. The Rockets already have a team in the National Capital Junior Hockey League (Junior C).
Team General Manager Robyn Sadler said he was a big fan of the league after watching its first season in 2019-20.
“I didn’t know if it was going to be like the Quebec league with a bunch of fighting or if it was going to be a good option for people to come and watch play,” he said. “It’s grown on me, and I thought it was a good opportunity to give the kids in this area a serious option for hockey for those over 21.”
He explained in the EOSHL there is no upper age limit, but the playing level is considered Senior-A.
The plan is for the team to start in the 2021-22 season. The EOSHL now has nine teams in the league after beginning 2019 with four teams. The league caught the attention of hockey fans in the area with the championship final between the Cornwall Prowlers and the West Carleton Rivermen in early March 2020.
Sadler credited two former members of the Morrisburg Jr. C Lions organization, Andrew Wensink and Matt Thompson with convincing him that joining the EOSHL was a good idea. Wensink and Thompson run the Maxville Millionaires team in the league.
“The program they are running there was more of a reason to get involved in the league,” Sadler said. “Based on what I saw there, I think it can work really well in North Dundas.”
Sadler said with few playing options for older players who age-out of junior, he was looking forward to the Rockets joining the league.
The EOSHL did not run this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions but plans to run in the fall with a 24-game schedule.
North Dundas is the ninth team in the league, joining Pontiac, Smiths Falls, North Frontenac, Deseronto, Maxville, West Carlton, and Cornwall this fall.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader