Story by Jeff Gard
The Frankford Huskies are new to the Provincial Junior Hockey League this season and it’s fitting they are playing in the Tod Division.
Director of operations Frank Robinson remembers Huskies junior C teams from the late 1970s into the 1980s. Wayne Tod, who this division is now named after, was the general manager, he said.
“Wayne went on from there to become the treasurer of the OHA,” Robinson added.
There was also senior A hockey in Frankford from 2005 to 2008.
In the PJHL’s Tod Division, the Huskies new junior franchise joins the Amherstview Jets, Campbellford Rebels, Napanee Raiders, Picton Pirates and Port Hope Panthers.
“We just thought it would be a great thing for the Quinte West area because it’s such a hockey community,” Robinson said. “They just love their hockey and we’ve seen that already through the support we’re getting. The council is very supportive and we’re finding now the Town of Frankford just loves to have us back and renewing the Huskies franchise. We hope to be successful and be there for many years.”
Success in the standings will help the Huskies gain a following, but Robinson said the team will need to be visible in the Frankford area as well.
“It has to be a reciprocal arrangement where they support us…but we have to be out in the community and support the community,” Robinson said.
Robinson noted that he’s involved with the Trenton Golden Hawks as are Huskies’ president John MacDonald and business manager Tim Durkin so there will be a great partnership between the junior clubs.
“The Huskies are our chance to use local players,” Robinson said. “We thought we owed it to the local community to have players in the community play junior hockey which are the best years of your life.”
In July, the Huskies named Ian Green the club’s first general manager and Patrick Shearer the inaugural head coach.
“That’s the two guys I wanted,” Robinson said, noting Green won 18 playoff rounds in four years as GM of Port Hope “which is unheard of.”
Robinson added that “Patrick’s ready to be a head coach in junior hockey and has experience with Kingston, Cobourg and Trenton as an assistant coach. He actually had one year with Napanee junior C as an assistant coach and many years with the Red Devils as a head coach.”
Shearer, meanwhile, says he has benefited from the experience of working with a number of different coaches and can apply those lessons to his own work behind the bench.
“I’m really looking forward to starting with a new organization right from scratch and getting the chance to build a team and hopefully taking that on for numerous years,” Shearer said.
“We got a late start. A lot of players were already taken, but we were looking to get players from local triple-A systems and then small towns, their home centres. We’ve drawn players basically anywhere from Prince Edward County north to Centre Hastings, all the way to Northumberland, Belleville and every little small town in between. We’re really looking to stay mainly local.”
Shearer praised the Red Devils as one of the best triple-A organizations in Ontario, but says the Quinte region is also fortunate to have quite a number of other organizations in the area.
“Our local centres do a really good job developing players and keeping guys in hockey so I think it’s made it that we could introduce a new team into the Quinte region at the junior C level in Frankford and still have enough talented players to put on another hockey team and make the junior C loop even that much better with another local team.”
Only three members of the Huskies 2021-22 roster have previous junior C experience. Stirling’s Hunter Cooney played two seasons with the Amherstview Jets, Campbellford’s Caleb Summerfeldt has experience with his hometown Rebels and Kurt Gibbs of Cobourg joins the Frankford club after gaining experience with the Campbellford Rebels, Port Hope Panthers and Port Perry MoJacks.
PJHL rookies will include Cobourg’s Noah Richard, who comes from the Red Devils organization and could be an affiliated player for the Cobourg Cougars junior A club.
“We’re really excited to have him on board and he’ll play a big role for us,” Shearer said.
Parker Mattis will be another great young player joining the club following successful minor hockey years with the Prince Edward County Kings. Shearer expects the Huskies will be one of the youngest teams in the entire PJHL.
“It will take some time for them to adjust to the junior level and the speed that comes with it,” he said. “The early part of the season is just about development, getting our structure together, improving on our skills and going right back to square one and building it from the defensive zone out while improving their skills and habits at the same time.
“It will just be a daily and weekly improvement over the course of the season for us and that’s our focus.”
Every team will make the playoffs in the Tod Division, which will give the young Huskies players something to strive for with goals to achieve along the way.
“There will be times when we struggle, but there will hopefully be enough successes along the way that keep the guys motivated and knowing they’re going to be in playoffs and have the entire season to look forward to, I think it will keep guys really engaged and keep striving to get better to be prepared for that,” Shearer said.