(Dana Haggith)

The Wallaceburg Lakers Junior ‘C’ Hockey Team made some big announcements during an open meeting on Thursday night, June 6, at the Wallaceburg Legion.

Before a crowd of 20-plus people, team officials announced they’ll be changing the name of the squad to the Wallaceburg Thunderhawks.

Ken Shine, the majority owner of the team, along with other members of the ownership group, unveiled a new logo and branding with black, white and red as the prominent colours.

“With the fire and the negativity surrounding the hockey team and the losing culture, we felt as an ownership group it that the time for a new look and a total change is now,” Shine said.

“Our sweaters this year will be black, white and red… no more green, gold and white. We know this has been heartfelt for some people, even for myself… my son wore that sweater at one time.”

Shine said it is a new era for the Junior ‘C’ club.

“A fresh start,” he said.

“From this day forward we will no longer be the Lakers, we will be the Thunderhawks. It’s not Tilbury, we’re the Wallaceburg Thunderhawks. Most teams today don’t put their hometown on it. We’ll use Amherstburg as an example of that… you won’t see Amherstburg anywhere on their sweater. The Blenheim Blades, it’s a big ‘B’, it doesn’t say Blenheim on it.”

The team will also be moving from their traditional Wednesday night home games and will be shifting to Saturday nights at 8 p.m. at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena.

“I’d like to thank Minor Hockey for making this possible,” Shine said.

“I think that is a step in the right direction.”

It was a tumultuous off-season for the team, as they had applied to move the team to the west end of Chatham-Kent in Tilbury.

However, the move was denied by the Ontario Hockey Association.

Fast forward to the end of April, the team took another hit during a fire at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena, where all of their jerseys, equipment and gear were destroyed in the blaze.

Chatham-Kent Fire & Emergency Services officials have released few details about the fire, saying that the cause was unknown and the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal was called in to investigate.

Moving forward, Shine said the team is looking for help with fundraising, implementing a booster club and helping with other team activities.

“The more people that we can get involved here, the more it becomes a sense of community,” he said.

“We might own the team, but it’s Wallaceburg’s hockey team. I want people to understand that.”

When looking at the attempt to move the team to Tilbury, Shine said it was all business.

“Which is why I wanted to clear the air,” Shine said.

“This was 10 years of losing money as an organization and nothing to do with losing. It was solely a business decision.”

Shine added: “With the changes that we’ve made to Saturday’s, the colours and bringing in local people and reaching out, we’re hoping to make a go of this… that’s why we’re here today. We could’ve just walked away.. (moving the team) was never the intention from day one, and I know I was accused of it.”

The team finished with a 1-37-0-2 record last season, last place in the West Stobbs Division of the Provincial Junior Hockey League.