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Central Hockey League Comes to Canada

By Robbie Raskin -- January 24, 2013 8:36 PM EST

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The Powerade Centre won't be empty for long.

Hockey fans in Brampton, Ontario - a suburb of Toronto - were understandably saddened when in November 2012 rumours were confirmed and the news broke that the Ontario Hockey League's Battalion would be moving to the city of North Bay. The Battalion struggled to attract fans from the large immigrant communities that make up the city's population and were often overshadowed by the NHL and AHL franchises in Toronto. Those fans that did constantly show for home games were known to be passionate and boisterous but there were too many empty seats and attendance was near the bottom of the OHL and its parent league, the Canadian Hockey League.

This time around another league named the CHL will be bringing its brand of hockey to the Flower City; the Central Hockey League plans to expand next season to Brampton and for the first time in its history establish a Canadian franchise. The Central Hockey League is a professional league two tiers below the AHL but above the semi-pro Canadian Hockey League. Brampton's expansion franchise will be the first foray for the league into hockey-mad Canada and also the first time the league will be playing a team in the Eastern Standard Time zone. Brampton's players won't have an easy travel schedule either; the nearest team is the Bloomington Blaze who play ten hours away in Illinois. Good thing Brampton is close to Toronto's Pearson Airport!

According to the local newspaper, the Brampton Guardian, the team is looking for AHL and NHL affiliate agreements. The Toronto Maple Leafs, it should be noted, are not currently aligned with any teams in the league one tier up of the CHL, the East Coast Hockey League, after ending their agreement with the Reading Royals (who play at Sovereign Center). As for the team's name and branding, a competition has been set up on the website www.hockeybrampton.com where fans can leave their suggestions for names, with the winner receiving tickets to this year's Stanley Cup final.

Road trippers from the American Midwest should be sure to make the trip North to see the newest CHL franchise and hockey fans in Brampton should be pleased for a second shot at hockey, and pro hockey no less.

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