It’s now official: Virden is joining the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
The official announcement was made today (April 25) in Virden, ending weeks of rumours and speculation.
Bob Berry, a member of Virden Hockey Ventures Inc. and designated spokesperson, confirmed a group in Virden has purchased the Winnipeg Saints.
“We’re ecstatic about this,” Berry said. “There’s been weeks of meetings and discussions. It’s now come to reality. And we’re very, very pleased.”
The new Virden team will play out of the new, $18-million, 1,200 seat Virden Community Centre. Berry said Virden Hockey Ventures group is in the process of finalizing its hockey front office. A team name will also be announced at a later date. Former Southwest Cougars Coach Troy Leslie has been named the Head Coach and General Manager.
“This (searching for an MJHL team) began when the new rink was constructed,” said Berry. “A group of community-minded people felt we needed a high level of hockey in our community. It seemed a natural fit.”
Berry said the community and district will have no trouble supporting an MJHL franchise. Virden’s population is about 3,100 with a surrounding draw of about 12,000 people, explained Berry.
“From what we’re hearing, people are very excited about the MJHL coming to town,” he said. “We’ll now get busy putting together season-ticket packages, game-day packages….sponsorship and other marketing ventures.”
MJHL Commissioner Kim Davis, who attended the news conference, expressed his sincere thanks to the Winnipeg Saint organization, its ownership, staff, players and most importantly the fans.
“The MJHL is committed to developing players and ensuring our fans receive high-calibre of hockey,” said Davis. “Obviously, Virden is a thriving community which includes a multi-million-dollar facility worthy of hosting an MJHL franchise.”