Michigan-based Soo Eagles have received approval from governing-body USA Hockey to re-join the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League as an expansion team for the 2015-2016 season, HockeyNewsNorth.com has confirmed.
The Eagles had earlier been approved by Hockey Canada to return to the NOJHL after being a part of the North American Hockey League the past three seasons.
As members of the NOJHL, the Eagles won the championship in 2010-2011.
Coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo, who has been with the Eagles for five years — two in the NOJHL and three in the NAHL — said he is “both happy and excited to have received the phone call from USA Hockey earlier today.
“The NOJHL is a growing league with good leadership and a good reputation. We are very happy to again be a part of the NOJHL and to be able to renew the cross-border rivalry with the Soo Thunderbirds,” Bragagnolo added.
The Eagles will continue to play their home games at venerable Pullar Stadium in the downtown Michigan Soo.
With all the necessary approval for the Eagles now in place, the NOJHL will be a 12-team league in 2015-2016 — which is double what it was seven years ago.
Besides the Eagles and Thunderbirds, other teams that will comprise the NOJHL in 2015-2016 are the Blind River Beavers, Elliot Lake Wildcats, Espanola Express, Rayside-Balfour Canadians, French River Rapids, Powassan Voodoos, Timmins Rock, Iroquois Falls Eskimos, Cochrane Crunch and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.