Junior A Hockey Returns to King Township as Brantford 99ers Relocate and Rebrand as the King Rebellion

May 30, 2024   ·   0 Comments

King Councillors welcome new team, unveil jerseys

By Jim Stewart

After a 37-year absence, Junior A hockey has returned to King Township. A jersey-unveiling ceremony in the Municipal Centre celebrated the relocation of the Brantford 99ers to King City.
The OJHL West Conference squad will be rebranded as the King Rebellion – a nod to the King Minor Hockey Association’s rep teams and a bid to create continuity of program.
The Junior A Rebellion squad will play its games at the sparkling and sustainable Township-Wide Recreation Centre located at Dufferin and 15th Sideroad. The TWRC, a $100-million zero carbon structure scheduled to open in September – features two NHL-sized rinks, spectator seating, a six-lane lap pool and leisure pool, and an artificial turf fieldhouse with running track and a multi-use community space.
Mayor Steve Pellegrini, bedecked in the Rebellion’s home white jersey complemented by blue, gold, and red Florida Panther stripes, welcomed the Junior A team from Brantford to King as the prime tenant at the TWRC: “When we built the facility, we incorporated design elements to accommodate a Junior A team. We had lots of interest in the new arena from many teams. I’m just happy that our minor hockey program will benefit from the Junior A team and I know the Junior A Rebellion coaches and players are committed to help on the ice with King’s minor hockey teams. It’s going to be great hockey that gives our younger players something to aspire to.”
The nomadic 99ers started playing great hockey this past season and rose from being OJHL Western Conference cellar dwellers in 2022-23 to a competitive .500 playoff squad in 2023-24. Their bench boss Mark Joslin was named the OJHL Coach of the Year this Spring for improving the hockey club with lightning speed. He commented on the team’s rapid transformation: “The biggest thing was to bring about change of culture. We made everybody accountable from management to coaches to players. We only had three players returning from the previous team and rebuilt the roster with guys that would buy in to the many changes we were going to make.”
Coach Joslin’s re-invented team competed well during the first round of this year’s playoffs before being eliminated by the Canadian Junior Hockey League Champion Collingwood Blues. The Blues won the Centennial Cup in Oakville last Sunday by edging the Melfort Mustangs 1-0. Coach Joslin’s performance expectations for the 2024-25 remain high after their strong effort this Spring versus Collingwood: “We had such a good playoff series against the national champs and two of the games could have gone either way. I expect us to be a Top 10 OJHL team this upcoming season. I’m hoping that we can feed off last year’s finish and build on our .500 record. I wasn’t even sure that last year’s club was going to make the playoffs, but the guys improved so much in one season.”
He pointed to the vast improvement of many players, including 6’5” defenceman Simon Wang who’s committed to NCAA D1 Boston College: “We’re happy to have successful student-athletes like Simon Wang on our roster. He’s a great skater and we expect big things from him on our team this year and in Division 1 with Boston U in two years. We have four or five players that will be committing to NCAA schools this year. The OJHL is a really good route to U.S. college scholarships.”
Joslin, whose award-winning coaching and administrative experience is invaluable to the relocated franchise, was taken by Monday’s jersey-unveiling ceremony: “The Mayor’s genuine excitement about us coming into town was the best part of today’s meeting. He’s a big hockey fan and was surrounded by people that are big hockey fans, too. I didn’t expect so many people to be in Rebellion jerseys. I was impressed and proud.”
A resident of Richmond Hill, Coach Joslin noted many reasons why he’s looking forward to coaching in King City: “In addition to cutting my commute from 2 hours to 12 minutes, it’s the excitement about creating a Junior A team here in the town for the first time. We’ll be getting involved with the King Minor Hockey Association so our players can help out with house league and rep practices. I’m really happy that we are rebranding as the Rebellion to keep in sync with the King rep program. I know there’s lots of excitement in the organization about being the main tenants in a brand new building, too, and having a centre ice score clock and a custom dressing room for the club.”
Sharing an arena and facilities is one of the reasons the 99ers relocated to King Township. The arrival in Brantford of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs was a significant factor. Initially, the Bulldogs were going to stay in Brantford for 2-3 years while the First Ontario Centre in Hamilton underwent renovations and repairs. The OHL and OJHL squads shared the Brantford Civic Centre initially, but when the Bulldogs’ ownership group chose to put down roots in ‘The Telephone City,’ the 99ers needed a new home to call their own.
When the Rebellion take to the ice at their new home at the KWRC, it will end a four-decade absence of Junior A Hockey in King. The Nobleton Junior A Devils represented the Township from 1984 to 1987 before relocating and rebranding, respectively, in Etobicoke as the Capitals. The franchise eventually moved to Brampton where it was decommissioned by the OJHL in 2012.
There was a sure sign that foreshadowed the relocation of the franchise a week before the OJHL formally approved the 99ers’ move to King. It was evident at the Victoria Day Parade in Nobleton when a hardware-hauling, enthusiastic group of King U13AA championship rep players and coaches travelled down King Road into the Community Centre parking lot toting a banner that read “The Rebellion Starts Now.”
Indeed, the splendid double entendre on the parade signage set up Monday’s long-awaited official announcement by the OJHL and King Township quite nicely. Welcome, 99ers, to the comfy confines of King City and the KWRC. “The Rebellion Starts Now,” indeed.




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