The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

High School Sports

May 21, 2009

Johnstown lands junior hockey team

JOHNSTOWN — The Hanson Brothers would be pleased.

“You need to take it to the other team,” said Bill Blanset, head coach of the new Johnstown Jets Junior Hockey Club.

“Hockey is a game that is meant to be played physical.”

Blanset, of Altoona, was introduced along with other members of the newly formed junior team at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

The new organization joins eight others in the United Junior Hockey League, based in Wilmington, Del. One step below pro, the independent Junior A Tier III hockey league is geared to kids ages 15 to 20 with the goal of seeing young players move up to either the collegiate level or the pro level.

“The whole point is to showcase the kids,” said Jimi Simmons, president of the club and co-owner of the team.

Games will be played on Saturdays and Sundays so school is not interrupted.

“Our first and main goal is ... our players, with education first and hockey second,” the mission statement for the league reads.

The team will be comprised of 25 players. Tryouts will be held sometime in June or early July at Planet Ice. More information on tryouts will be available on the club’s Web site starting Monday.

Games will be played at the War Memorial with practices held at the North Central Recreation Center in Ebensburg.

Simmons said he would like to see some form of a partnership with the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs, perhaps with club games played before Chiefs games.

Tickets to Jets games will be $6 for adults and $3 for students.

There is a 52-game schedule

Simmons said that although the league is only in its second year, it is expanding and he has great hopes for the new franchise.

One of the keys to the team’s survival is for management to be honest with parents, he said. He was up front about costs involved for the players.

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