The Valley Wildcats are consolidating their three hockey teams – major bantam, major midget and junior A – in Berwick.
“It’s nothing whatsoever against Kentville, or the arena,” Wildcats’ general manager Nick Greenough said May 7 after the move to the Kings Mutual Century Centre’s Apple Dome was announced.
“Kentville has treated us great,” Greenough said, “but having all three of our teams under the same roof is the best move for our organization.”
The midget and bantam teams already play out of the Apple Dome, but the Wildcats’ new junior team played out of the Kentville arena this past season.
Greenough said the move was a business decision.
“(The move is) a tough decision to make,” he added, “but, as an organization, I feel it was the best move.
Greenough, who is also the junior A coach, said he’s excited about the move.
“It will be nice to be able to watch the midgets and bantams practice more and to be more involved with both those teams than I have been.”
He added the team is moving its gear to Berwick this week and the move will officially take effect during the late-summer training camp.
When contacted by phone, Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum said hates to see the Wildcats leave town, but he understands the decision.
“Of course, we’re disappointed to see them leave, but it’s a business decision,” Corkum said. “They wanted all three of their teams in the same place.
“We could probably have provided that,” the mayor added, “but not without displacing some of the other users of the arena, like minor hockey and figure skating, both of whom have been there for a long time.”
Money seems to have been a factor on both sides.
Corkum said keeping the junior team in Kentville “would have meant a capital investment.
“They wanted a new dressing room and we didn’t feel we wanted to do that.”
The mayor said the team would have been asked to help pay for a new dressing room, which they won’t have to do at the newer KMCC where there are larger dressing rooms.
“We had discussions and we pitched what we could,” Corkum said of negotiations with the team.
“Kentville and town council supported the team,” the mayor added. “Nothing would have pleased us more than to have them stay. We just weren’t in a position to do so.”
Disappointment aside, Corkum said he was pleased for the boost the team could give Berwick.
“Everything doesn’t need to be in Kentville, especially at the expense of other long-term users of our arena,” he said.
As for the hole the Wildcats’ departure is bound to leave, Corkum predicted, “other users will come forward.
“Normally we don’t have that much trouble selling ice time, which is usually at a premium in Kentville.”
No one from the Town of Berwick was available to comment on the Wildcats’ news today.