Competitive hockey is coming back to Deseronto this fall in the form of the Bulldogs, who join the newly launched Eastern Ontario Sr. A Hockey League.
Led by president/owner Landon Punchard and general manager/owner Graeme Gemmill, the team will consist of players aged 20 and older who have played professional hockey, as well as CHL, NCAA, CIS and Junior A, B and C. The league is meant to give players who have graduated from junior hockey a place to continue to play competitive hockey.
At the local level, the team will fill the void left in the town when the Deseronto Storm, who began in the Greater Metro Hockey League in 2006 before moving the the Junior C Empire B League, folded in 2015.
Tryouts are still underway for the season, with the Bulldogs’ home opener set for Sept. 28.
Several of the signed players will be familiar to fans of the former Deseronto Storm, including key players from their 2010 Greater Metro Hockey League Russel Cup championships. They include Brad Clark, who holds the record for most points in a season with the Storm with 127, as well as holds the record for most career goals with 152, as well as boasting the highest goals per game at 2.4.
Clark will be joined by Napanee’s Ryan Casselman, who is fresh off of leading the Junior C Napanee Raiders to a Schmalz Cup championship. Prior to returning to his hometown Raiders, Casselman helped the Junior A Cobourg Cougars to an RBC Cup championship, scoring the game winning goal.
Also with Junior A experience is Kyle Wetering, who the team selected with their third pick. The Pickering, On. native skated for the Toronto Junior Canadians as well as the UOIT Ridgebacks.
Shannonville’s Jeff Morris, who is fifth all-time in points with the Storm, was selected with the team’s fourth pick in the expansion draft. Defenceman Todd Munden, who served as captain with the Storm, was selected in the fifth round. Now a resident of Deseronto, Munden originally joined the GMHL from Ascot, England.
Deseronto’s John Sweet, who was third all-time in points with the Storm, was selected sixth.
Former Storm players Brett Maracle and Mitchell Thomspon were also drafted by the team.
Behind the bench will be Napanee’s Steve Durnan, who has spent time within the Napanee Stars organization as well as coaching at the junior level.
“I’m very honoured and excited to be part of the Deseronto Bulldogs organization, I can’t wait to lead the team and community in this new growing league,” he said in a release.
Joining Deseronto in the EOSHL will be the Cornwall Prowlers, Maxville Millionaires and West Carleton Rivermen. The regular season will consist of 18 games, each team playing nine home, nine road, followed by the playoffs.
The Prowlers will be the Bulldogs’ first opponent, when they open at home on Sept. 28. Opening ceremonies will begin at 6 p.m.
Deseronto’s home games will be played at the Deseronto Community Recreation Centre, located at 51 Mechanic Dr. Tickets are $10 for anyone 19 and older, $8 for seniors, $5 for fans six to 18 and free for anyone under five.
Deseronto’s home games will be Saturdays at 6:30 p.m., running through Feb. 1. A complete schedule can be found on the team’s Facebook page, Deseronto Bulldogs Senior “A” Hockey Club.