Lakers looking to rise up as re-branded Thunderhawks

From left: Louie Blackbird, Ken Shine and Daryl Lucio unveil the Thunderhawks logo. (Photo sourced from the Wallaceburg Thunderhawks via Instagram)

After a 47-year run as the Lakers, Wallaceburg’s Jr. C hockey team is getting a fresh new look.

The team, which has been known as the Lakers since 1972, is being renamed the Wallaceburg Thunderhawks.

Team president Darryl Lucio says the owners made the decision to re-brand after a fire destroyed all of their equipment earlier this year.

“We all got together and we figured this is the best time to do it if there is any,” said Lucio. “With basically the last 10 years or so of Wallaceburg hockey not doing so well, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to re-brand and to bring a fresh new outlook and team to Wallaceburg.”

The Lakers’ fall from grace was fast and furious in 2011.

The team went from finishing first in the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League (GLJHL) West Division in the 2010-2011 season to dead last in 2011-2012. Since then, the team has finished in last place every year, winning only 41 of its 320 regular season games (12.8 per cent win percentage).

In addition to those struggles, the team has also had some challenges off the ice with attendance. Lucio said the team is hoping to draw out more fans by changing their home night to Saturday as well.

“We have to thank Wallaceburg Minor Hockey for that — without them, that wouldn’t have been possible,” said Lucio. “We worked with them and they helped us accommodate that… they took Wednesday from us and we took the Saturday nights from them.”

While the team looks for a fresh start with a new name, a new logo, and a new home night, the ownership group will still be honouring the franchise’s storied past, though.

Lucio said they will still be keeping retired numbers from the Lakers off-limits for new players.