Group of seven families buys junior hockey franchise


The South Shore Lumberjacks Junior "A" hockey franchise is under new ownership, after being purchased by a group of seven families with a common love of the game.

The sale, valued in the six-figures, was finalized last fall but only received authorization from the Maritime Junior Hockey League in recent weeks.

Team president, Ross Shatford, who's also part of the new ownership group that acquired the team from local businessman Larry Creaser, hopes the community supports the 'jacks through game attendance and sponsorships.

"It will take the community to keep it here," Shatford told LighthouseNOW.

Creaser, the team's owner since 2014, sold to the group of families, in part, to ensure the team didn't move away from the area.

"Larry did everything he could to try and set us up to succeed," Shatford said, noting the negotiation process took several months and largely went without a hitch.

"Larry had two buyers for the team ... and he said, 'if you guys want to give this a try, I'm more than willing not to sell the team, and give you guys a chance.'"

Shatford and his wife Tanya, along with Brad Muise and Yvette MacKinnon, Kevin and Heather Veinott, Dave and Tanya Hinkley, Dave Brine and Yolanda King, Jayme Rhyno, and Kory and Kimberley Rodenhiser round out the slate of new franchise operators.

Shatford said all the families are equal partners in the ownership, and that they all share a passion for the sport and eagerly await someday seeing a jam-packed Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in attendance watching the 'jacks.

"Attendance is the biggest thing," Shatford said. Barring the public health restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lumberjacks were on a "pretty much break-even" pace financially thanks to decent gate receipts and a strong slate of sponsors.

Shatford hopes that when regular game play returns, the region willy rally behind the franchise even if pandemic rules prevent a full arena. He said the necessary precautions are in place, and the team will take measures to make the fanbase feel as safe and as comfortable as possible.

The 'jacks hockey club is about 13 years old. The team sits currently with a 2-12 win-loss record in the 2020-21 season.

Lunenburger Brogan Bailey is the head coach and general manager, while Shawn Woodworth of Bridgewater, and Adam Worth of Italy Cross, are his assistants.

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