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Junior A Calgary Mustangs relocating to Blackfalds

The AJHL Calgary Mustangs line up for the national anthem before facing the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Jan. 13, 2017.
The AJHL Calgary Mustangs line up for the national anthem before facing the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Jan. 13, 2017.

The Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Mustangs are relocating out of the city, the league announced Wednesday.

Ownership of the team has been transferred to Doug Quinn, a longtime staple in the hockey community of central Alberta, who is moving the team to Blackfalds for the 2021-22 campaign.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to bring a Junior A team to Blackfalds,” Quinn, who will serve as the team’s first head coach, said in a statement. “It is a growing and dynamic community, which has shown tremendous support with their commitment to build a new arena.

“On behalf of myself and the rest of the team, I can guarantee we will be highly motivated and committed over the next two years to build the best culture and team we can. We can’t wait for the rink to be built so we can finally give Blackfalds the Junior A team they have been waiting for.”

Quinn, a former 5th-round, 90th-overall draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks in 1983, has been the head coach of the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs for eight of the past 10 years. He’s led the team to five provincial championships, three Pacific championships and two Telus Cup championships.

The town of Blackfalds recently announced a fast-tracked $20-million plan to expand its Multi-Plex arena, expected to start next spring.

Amid years of low attendance, bottom of the league finishes and struggles to secure advertising revenue, the Mustangs announced in May the team would take a leave of absence from the junior league.

For years, rumours had swirled about a potential relocation to Strathmore after that community east of Calgary lost its AAA-club, the Bisons.

Junior hockey struggles aren’t new to clubs across the province.

The Calgary Canucks were forced to hold an emergency fundraiser last fall to keep the team afloat , raising about $100,000 in just a few days. In April, the team announced a slate of 12 board members , including eight returning directors.

North of Calgary, the Olds Grizzlys nearly didn’t make it through the 2016-17 season due to financial struggles until a 15-part ownership group crowdfunded $500,000 worth of private capital to purchase the team.

zlaing@postmedia.com

Twitter: @zjlaing

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