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Clippers Junior B need help, or hockey club may be lost

The Clippers logo on most Lac La Biche-based hockey teams shows a ship with full sails coasting high on rolling waves.

The Clippers logo on most Lac La Biche-based hockey teams shows a ship with full sails coasting high on rolling waves.

And like the ship that's depicted, the history of Clippers teams in the community has been carried on winds of support and waves of success.  The Lac La Biche Junior B Clippers were riding waves of success for the last three seasons. Brought back to life after a decade-long absence, the Clippers fought to championship levels in the northeastern league.

But also like the ship the name represents, Clippers can face some very stormy challenges ... and they're in one right now, says Lac La Biche Junior B manager Rick Rosychuk.

"We need help."

The three words are an S.O.S. plea from the organization.

With team tryouts starting the weekend of Friday, Sept. 10, Rosychuk is not only worried about player numbers, but more importantly about helpers behind the bench and behind the scenes. If helpers can't be found to work for the team, there won't be a team for fans to watch, he said.

"We know we have support out there. We know from the people who come out to watch — but now we need the help. We need more people to take over and run the team," he said, explaining that the team's recent annual general meeting drew only one person to help on the executive.

The global COVID pandemic has been the main factor in the rough seas the Clippers team is now facing. The Clippers played only one game in the 2020-21 season, and the previous season was cut short right at the final playoff games where the Clippers were facing the St. Paul Canadiens for the league championships. The sudden halt to play affected the team and the fans.

"COVID killed us," said Rosychuk bluntly.

Since then the remaining team support network has been trying to raise support and manpower for the team. 

Help with player recruitment, fundraising, billets, equipment management are all needed if the team is going to set sail this season, said Rosychuk.

Deadline for decision 

The remaining members of the team's leadership have given a deadline of September 10 to decide if there will be a team.

Admitting it's a hard decision, Rosychuk said he would remain — but more people are needed. 

"We just don't want to let it go. We are asking the community for help. We need help," he said, hoping that some of the 300 to 400 fans who have filled the home-team stands over the last three seasons — to see the mainly local players — will step up. "We know we have support in the stands — 100 per cent — now we need help to keep going with what I think is the best Junior B team in the province."

Anyone looking to help ... in any way they can, says Rosychuk, can contact him directly through the team email at rozi21@live.ca. According to the information going out about the upcoming tryouts, if a Clippers team does set sail this season, there is a coach in place, as former midget girls coach Brad Hutchinson has let his name stand.

More details on the Lac La Biche Junior B Clippers, how to help or how to rent their new team bus, go to their social media page.