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The Brantford 99ers are a Junior A ice hockey team from Brantford, Ontario, Canada. They are a part of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. The 99ers have previously been known as the Milton Icehawks, Milton Merchants, Milton Flyers, and Milton Steamers as Milton hosted junior hockey from 1966 to 2018. After purchasing the team, Darren DeDobbelaer of Brantford moved the club to that city for the start of the 2018-19 season, re-branding the team as the 99ers.

Brantford 99ers
CityBrantford, Ontario, Canada
LeagueOntario Junior Hockey League
DivisionWest
Founded1966
Home arenaWayne Gretzky Sports Centre
ColoursRed, black, white
              
Owner(s)Darren DeDobbelaer
General managerDarren DeDobbelaer
Head coachDan Fitzgerald (2018–19)
AffiliatesBrantford 99ers
Franchise history
1966–1971Milton Merchants
1971–1983Milton Flyers
1983–1986Milton Steamers
1986–2003Milton Merchants
2003–2018Milton Icehawks
2018–presentBrantford 99ers
Championships
Playoff championshipsBuckland Trophy: 2 (1997, 1998)
Dudley Hewitt Cup: 1 (1998)

HistoryEdit

The Icehawks were one of the most historical teams in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, having been formed in 1964 until the team was purchased and moved to Brantford for the 2018-19 season.[1][2] The Icehawks (2003–2018) have previously been known as the Milton Flyers (1971-1983), Milton Steamers (1983-1986), and Milton Merchants (1966-1971, 1986-2003).

Early yearsEdit

After serving in the Second World War as a RCAF wireless air gunner, David Brush returned to Milton and managed the Fred Armstrong Arena on Brown Street for two years, before Milton had artificial ice. His dedication to hockey included coaching at the minor league level and founding the town’s first Junior C club, the Milton Merchants, in 1964 as co-owner and president, which later became Jr. B and eventually Jr. A. For his efforts Brush was inducted into the Milton Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.[3]

In the 1970s, Vern Gooding owned the local team when they were known as the Milton Flyers.[4]

In 1974, three players including the team captain and top scorer left the team mid season over an imposed curfew dispute. Two of the three players had had tryouts with OHL clubs, and all three were club veterans.[5]

Grant Turner, Mark Grenier, Howie Scannell, and John Morgan owned the Milton Steamers in the early 1980s. Morgan sold his stake in the club to Turner, prompting Scannell to announce that he was preparing to sell his stake as well. On April 10, 1986, Turner, Grenier and Scannell sold the Steamers to Brad Grant who owned trucking company Sandstone Transport.[6]

Grant era and championship successesEdit

Trucking magnate Brad Grant purchased the team in April 1986 when it seemed like the organization might fold. For the 1986-87 season, he immediately changed the team's name from the Steamers to the Merchants after the Junior C team of old, and brought in former coach Gerry Inglis, who had also coached the Georgetown Raiders and had won five intermediate championships at the time.[6]

Grant led the team to tremendous success in the late 1990s. During his 15-year ownership run, the team captured four division crowns, three league championships and a provincial title.[7]

In 1992, the Milton Merchants were Central Junior B Hockey League champions with a 4-2 victory in Game 7 over the Aurora Eagles.[8] They made the Ontario Hockey Association Sutherland Cup Junior B championship but lost in five games to the Mid-Western Junior B Hockey League's Kitchener Dutchmen.[9]

Following the 1992-93 season, the Merchants made the jump to Junior A in the OPJHL.

The 1994-95 season marked the beginning of a historical run for the franchise as the club won five straight division titles. The surge of success increased when the Merchants were crowned league champions in 1997, winning the Buckland Trophy after defeating the Newmarket 87's. In the 1997 Dudley Cup playoffs, the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats (NOJHL) beat Milton four games to one.

In 1998, the Milton Merchants repeated their Buckland Trophy title, dispatching the Newmarket Hurricanes this time, and then went on to become Central Canadian Junior A Champions by winning the Dudley Hewitt Cup, defeating the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats (NOJHL) four games to two, and exacting revenge for the previous year's loss to Rayside-Balfour.

At the 1998 Royal Bank Cup, the Milton Merchants went 1-3 in round robin play. In the semifinal game, Milton lost 6-2 to the South Surrey Eagles and were eliminated from the tournament.

In 2018, the Milton Sports Hall of Fame announced that it is inducting the 1996-97 and 1997-98 Merchants teams, and Brad Grant as a builder, during a ceremony in November.[10]

Forgione eraEdit

In 2001, Grant sold the team to an Oakville trio that consisted of ex-NHLer Dave Gagner, Mario Forgione who owned the Mississauga IceDogs at the time and was an automotive parts manufacturing president, and wine distillery consultant Ken Chase.[11][12]

For the 2003-04 season, Forgione changed the team's name from the Merhcants to the IceHawks to reflect the team's connection with the local minor hockey programs called the Winterhawks, and Forgione's ownership of the Mississauga IceDogs.[13] In 2005, the Ontario Hockey Association fined the Icehawks $12,000 and suspended then-General Manager George Dupont for signing two players outside of OHA guidelines.[14] In 2006, Forgione officially affiliated the Icehawks with the IceDogs.[15]

Heinz eraEdit

In the spring of 2006, ex-NHL goaltender Rick Heinz' attempt to purchase the nearby Georgetown Raiders fell through, but by July 2006 the local Campbellville resident Heinz had talked Forgione into selling the Icehawks, and the affiliation with the IceDogs ended.[16] Heinz sold the team just nine months later after starting the season with essentially no committed players.[17]

DeVincentis and Piett eraEdit

Dean Piett, a commercial real estate businessman from Burlington, and Rob DeVincentis, the Ancaster owner of a construction business, purchased the team from Heinz and owned the team from 2007 to 2017.[18]

Move to BrantfordEdit

DeVincentis sold the team in 2017 to Darren DeDobbelaer of Brantford, whose son Eric played on the Junior B Brantford 99ers, which DeDobbelaer also owned. The Ontario Hockey Association originally blocked the $500,000 sale of the IceHawks to prevent DeDobbelaer from moving the team to Brantford, or promoting the 99ers to Jr. A and demoting the IceHawks in Milton to Jr. B. Complicating matters was the fact that Brad Grant who previously owned the team was OHA chairman at the time of the proposed sale.[19] The sale was ultimately approved on the condition that the IceHawks remain in Milton for the 2017–18 season. The team the announced that starting in the 2018–19 season the team would relocate to Brantford to play under the 99ers name with the OJHL's approval.[20] However, this move was denied by the Ontario Hockey Association, the overseeing organization for the Ontario Junior Hockey League, by refusing to send officials to their first game in Brantford on September 13[21] and the Icehawks were forced to stay in Milton for another season.[22]

On October 21, the OHA and OJHL announced the relocation of the team back to Brantford.[23]

Season-by-season resultsEdit

Season GP W L T OTL GF GA P Results Playoffs
1970-71 33 12 17 4 - 147 166 28 7th MOJBHL
1971-72 42 13 20 9 - 171 231 35 5th CJBHL
1972-73 42 9 30 3 - 171 278 21 7th CJBHL
1973-74 42 25 10 7 - 246 174 57 2nd CJBHL
1974-75 Statistics Not Available
1975-76 36 12 21 3 - 167 237 27 7th CJBHL
1976-77 42 17 22 3 - 206 237 37 6th CJBHL
1977-78 42 20 16 6 - -- -- 46 4th CJBHL
1978-79 44 16 23 5 - 205 277 37 7th CJBHL
1979-80 44 10 28 5 - 192 298 25 11th CJBHL
1980-81 44 4 37 3 - 184 337 11 12th CJBHL
1981-82 40 6 30 4 - 156 303 16 11th CJBHL
1982-83 42 18 18 6 - 200 233 42 5th CJBHL
1983-84 40 12 23 5 - 182 200 29 7th CJBHL
1984-85 40 20 16 4 - 193 166 44 5th CJBHL
1985-86 48 5 37 6 - 173 354 16 9th CJBHL
1986-87 42 9 29 4 - 158 278 22 7th CJBHL
1987-88 44 18 22 4 - 232 250 40 9th CJBHL
1988-89 42 12 26 4 - 164 250 28 12th CJBHL
1989-90 42 18 17 7 - 189 181 43 6th CJBHL
1990-91 42 25 10 7 - 265 184 57 3rd CJBHL
1991-92 42 29 8 5 - 207 138 63 2nd CJBHL Won League
1992-93 49 32 15 2 - 269 190 68 5th CJBHL
1993-94 42 24 16 2 - 228 183 52 5th OPJHL-W
1994-95 49 33 14 2 - 287 226 69 1st OPJHL-W
1995-96 50 27 16 7 - 243 172 64 1st OPJHL-Mi
1996-97 51 37 9 5 - 319 169 81 1st OPJHL-Mi Won League
1997-98 51 42 8 1 0 357 127 85 1st OPJHL-Mi Won League, Won DHC
1998-99 51 43 4 3 1 308 138 90 1st OPJHL-W
1999-00 49 30 13 3 3 231 158 66 3rd OPJHL-W
2000-01 49 29 14 5 1 210 168 64 1st OPJHL-W
2001-02 49 25 20 3 1 198 208 54 5th OPJHL-W
2002-03 49 41 6 1 1 279 139 84 1st OPJHL-W
2003-04 49 32 15 0 2 228 161 66 4th OPJHL-W
2004-05 49 30 17 1 1 241 131 62 4th OPJHL-W
2005-06 49 41 3 4 1 254 97 87 1st OPJHL-W Lost Conf. SF
2006-07 49 12 31 4 2 142 235 30 8th OPJHL-W Lost Conf. QF
2007-08 49 22 20 - 7 185 194 51 6th OPJHL-W
2008-09 49 21 24 - 4 208 229 46 6th OJHL-M
2009-10 56 3 51 - 2 145 387 8 15th OJAHL DNQ
2010-11 50 5 41 - 4 147 374 14 8th OJHL-W DNQ
2011-12 49 18 28 - 3 195 264 39 5th OJHL-W Lost Division QF
2012-13 55 19 27 - 9 209 255 47 4th OJHL-W DNQ
2013-14 53 29 20 - 3 186 193 61 3rd OJHL-W Lost Conf. QF
2014-15 - - - - - - - - - -
2015-16 54 5 48 0 1 110 362 11 5th of 5 West Div
11th of 11 SW Conf
22nd of 22 OJHL
DNQ
2016-17 54 4 48 1 1 125 385 10 5th of 5 West Div
11th of 11 SW Conf
22nd of 22 OJHL
DNQ
2017-18 54 4 47 0 3 125 385 11 5th of 5 West Div
11th of 11 SW Conf
22nd of 22 OJHL
DNQ

Sutherland Cup appearancesEdit

1992: Kitchener Dutchmen defeated Milton Merchants 4-games-to-1

Notable alumniEdit

Many notable players have suited up for Milton over the years including NHL stars John Tavares, Daniel Carcillo, Sam Gagner, Rich Peverley, Darren Haydar, Cody Goloubef and Matt Read.

Some famous Miltonians have also played for the franchise, including four-time Stanley Cup champion John Tonelli, AHL star Darren Haydar, two-time NCAA Frozen Four champion Boston College captain Matt Price, and his brother Jeremy Price (Vancouver Canucks' draft pick).

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "OJHL teams move cities, divisions & conferences - Quinte News". 10 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-21. Retrieved 2016-09-27. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ https://www.milton.ca/en/play/sportshalloffame_Ceremony.asp
  4. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 4 Dec 1974, p. 5". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  5. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 30 Dec 1974, p. 5". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  6. ^ a b "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 16 Apr 1986, p. 9". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  7. ^ "Photo" (PDF). images.ourontario.ca.
  8. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 3 Apr 1992, p. 1". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  9. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 1 May 1992, p. 15". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  10. ^ "2018 class named for Milton Sports Hall of Fame induction". 27 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 15 Mar 2005, p. 17". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  12. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 22 Jun 2001, p. 22". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  13. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 17 Jun 2003, p. 21". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  14. ^ "Chatham News, Sports, Entertainment, Business, Life & Opinion | Chatham Daily News". Chathamdailynews.ca. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  15. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 14 Mar 2006, p. 15". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  16. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 7 Jul 2006, p. 18". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  17. ^ "Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 30 Mar 2007, p. 19". news.milton.halinet.on.ca.
  18. ^ "Photo" (PDF). images.ourontario.ca.
  19. ^ Newman, Mark (6 July 2017). "OHA decision ices bid to bring junior hockey back to the Mountain".
  20. ^ LeBlanc, Steve (16 August 2017). "Milton must support IceHawks to keep them, says new owner".
  21. ^ "OJHL POSTPONES TONIGHT'S GAME IN BRANTFORD". OJHL. 13 September 2018.
  22. ^ "OJHL Update". OJHL. 16 September 2018.
  23. ^ https://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/sports/local-sports/jr-a-99ers-return-to-brantford

External linksEdit