Hamilton today is “Back in Black…and Gold” with the official announcement today by Allan Cup Hockey Commissioner Brent Ladds that the city of Hamilton is returning to Senior hockey for the first time since 1954 with the addition of the Hamilton Steelhawks to the ACH for the 2015-16 Senior AAA hockey season.
From 1932 until 1954, Hamilton was the home to the Senior A Hamilton Tigers. A team that featured such stars as Toe Blake, Herbie Cain, Art Child, Carl Liscombe, Paul (Polly) Miocinovich, Dennis Riggin and Montreal football star Ralph Toohey.
“On behalf of the ACH Board of Governors, we are pleased to welcome the new Hamilton Steelhawks hockey club, and look forward to a long term relationship with the hockey fans of Hamilton. Mountain Arena has such an iconic hockey presence in the City of Hamilton, that it is a privilege to be able to call it home,” said Commissioner Ladds.
“We know Jason Daleo and the group of volunteers that will gravitate to assist the Steelhawks, will ice a team that will make the community proud, and re-energize Senior hockey interests in the City of Hamilton.”
As of today, Allan Cup Hockey, which is the business name for the Ontario Hockey Association Senior AAA Hockey League has seven competing teams in Dundas, Whitby, Norwood, Stoney Creek, Brantford, Thorold and now the “Ambitious City.” The OHA has a tradition in Senior hockey dating back to 1890.
The new entry is owned and operated by Jason Daleo and George Roque. Daleo worked as an executive with the Hamilton Bulldogs for seven seasons including the role of Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, and several National Hockey League teams in a sales and marketing capacity. Daleo’s goal is to use his marketing skills to promote this Hometown Hamilton team and draw minor-pro style hockey to fans to the Dave Andreychuck Arena.
“It’s a privilege and honour to be involved as an owner and executive in Allan Cup Hockey,” said President and General Manager, Jason Daleo. “It is special to be part of this organization playing out of the Dave Andreychuck Arena, where I cheered on such iconic Hamilton franchises as the Mountain As, Kilty Bs and of course, the Hamilton Steelhawks when I was growing up.”
“I look forward to building a competitive team with my Director of Hockey Operations, Brent Pope and Head Coach Jason Soules. Brent has a wealth of hockey knowledge and player development skills gained through playing hockey in the Ontario Hockey League, and professionally. Pope has also been a highly qualified coach at various levels of competitive hockey and brings instant credibility to our organization by being able to attract quality players in a supporting role to our head coach. While we look forward to competing with all the teams, I believe we will have an instant rivalry with Dundas, Brantford and Stoney Creek based on our proximity to each of them. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the ACH,” Daleo added.
Roque has owned and operated an industrial flat roofing company in Hamilton throughout his professional career, establishing GRRC Roofing as a leader in the roofing industry throughout Southern Ontario. Roque is a life-long hockey fan, and supports all Hamilton teams as a season ticket holder or corporate sponsor.
“I think Hamilton will be a great addition to our League, with the Bulldogs exit as an American Hockey League club, the Real McCoys and Hamilton will fill the void for that brand of hockey. Hamilton Mountain is its own kind of Community with tremendous pride, so there should be wonderful support, and they will come to detest the Real McCoys in no time at all,” said Don Robertson, President and General Manager of the Dundas Real McCoys.
During today’s event, Daleo introduced the team’s new head coach Jason Soules, who was an original member of the Hamilton Steelhawks, and was drafted 15th overall by the NHL Edmonton Oilers. In addition, the club’s first player commitment was announced, former first-round NHL draft pick, American Hockey League Most Valuable Player, former captain of the Hamilton Bulldogs, former NHL veteran and Allan Cup Trophy winner: Jason Ward.
The new Hamilton Steelhawks are bringing back a popular name, that of the former Ontario Hockey League team to its former home, the Dave Andreychuck Mountain Arena, and links to Keith Primeau, Jamie Leach, Keith Gretzky, Shayne Corson, and local hockey hero Ron Bernacci.
Hamilton has nation-wide recognition associated with the colours Black and Gold, and Daleo and Roque wanted to maintain that recognition with the theme of Hamilton Steelhawks “Back in Black…and Gold!”
The Steelhawks will play 24 games plus the playoffs, and will compete for the OHA’s John Ross Robertson Cup. The winner of the Robertson Cup will then compete for the National championship, and Canada’s oldest hockey trophy the Allan Cup Trophy.