Mount Brydges Bulldogish On Bulldogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

From Vancouver, B.C. to St. John’s, Nfld., no Canadian commonality defines us more than minor hockey, in particular how small-town communities embrace the game and their teams. In Mount Brydges, that connection between community and rink is stronger than ever, thanks to a concerted effort to link the Junior C Bulldogs and the townsfolk.

A big part of this renewed enthusiasm is Londoner Nick Sakellis, 28, who graduates from Bulldogs vice president to team president as the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) club prepares for its 2018-19 season. A product of the West London Minor Hockey Association and London Jr. Knights who later played Junior C hockey with the Lambeth Lancers, Sakellis is just as bulldoggish on connecting with the Mount Brydges community as he is on helping the team improve on its 16-21-3 campaign.

Nick Sakellis

“We’re trying to hit home with community involvement in a really big way,” Sakellis explained. “We took a step back and looked at ourselves in the mirror to re-evaluate our values both as a hockey team and as a community participant. And I would hope that I can bring some fresh ideas to the table, and rely on my combination of youth and experience.”

A former invitee to camps with the London Knights and the NCAA’s Colgate University, Sakellis is a graduate of King’s University College at Western University, and of Fanshawe College’s GIS and Urban Planning program. He has the gift of the gab, as young hockey executives usually do, but during his third year with the Bulldogs he appears to be walking the walk as well.

For example, under his short tenure Sakellis has worked closely with the Bulldogs board to bond tightly with the Mount Brydges Cougars minor hockey association. He said not only does this make sense logistically, but also it’s important to bond with anyone within the community, especially minor hockey.

“The Bulldogs at Practice initiative will see our players attend minor hockey practices, help run them, take a photo, interact with the kids and just offer another olive branch to the community. We’re establishing hockey roots so when the kids grow up, maybe they come our way instead of playing elsewhere,” Sakellis explained.

“There was a big gap between the Bulldogs and the Cougars,” he added, “so this initiative is a big step in the right direction. We have some Bulldogs players and board members who have risen through the ranks from the Cougars, so it makes perfect sense.”

Another important community initiative is this year’s second annual Bulldogs Bark at Hunger, a holiday food drive involving the hockey team, local Salvation Army and Tim Hortons, Royal Canadian Legion Caradoc Branch 251, Mount Brydges Cougars Peewee AE, and the Tri-Township Arena. Bulldogs bins accepting non-perishable food items will be placed inside the Tim Hortons restaurant and in the arena lobby for mid-December pickup.

Bulldogs Bark at Hunger 2017

“We don’t want people saying, ‘We’re attending a Bulldogs game, but what have they done for the community?’ We need to be involved on a deeper level. And we feel that we no longer have a disconnect with the community,” Sakellis said.

The Bulldogs finished sixth in the nine-team PJHL Western Conference Yeck Division last season before losing a playoff quarter-final in five games to the Dorchester Dolphins. Their exhibition season opens August 24 when they host the Stobbs Division Mooretown Flags in Mt. Brydges.

Their season opener is slated for September 14 at Thamesford Trojans. The Bulldogs’ home opener versus Exeter Hawks goes September 16.

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Jeffrey Reed is a long-time member of the London sports media, and publisher/editor of LondonOntarioSports.com, and LondonOntarioGolf.com. Have a story idea for Jeffrey? Reach him at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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