OCN junior club sold to locally-based ownership group

The OCN Blizzard are back on stable financial ground.

In a Jan. 18 announcement from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the band announced the team had been sold to a trio of northern Manitoba businessmen.

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The new owners are Arthur Barbeau, Salman Safdar and Usman Tahir. All three own and operate businesses in The Pas. Barbeau has Berna Dean Flowers and Gifts, while Safdar and Tahir have restaurant franchises and northern Manitoba Fas Gas fuelling stations.

The band itself had owned, operated and financed the team from its creation in 1996 until 2016.

The hockey club announced it would fold in December 2016, but following an outpouring of support, the team has continued play through the next two seasons.

While the new owners and the band have agreed on the deal, the MJHL’s board of governors still has to approve the purchase. The Blizzard will be co-managed by the previous owners and the new ownership group until the next MJHL board of governors meeting in March.

“This is the kind of arrangement that OCN can still benefit from,” OCN Onekanew Christian Sinclair said in a press release.

“The Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre will always be home to the team and we will still get the chance to watch the same high-calibre hockey. The youth of the north can still aspire to play for the OCN Blizzard.”

Since hitting the ice more than two decades ago, the Blizzard have won five MJHL league titles and have featured a number of star players from northern Manitoba and Nunavut, including brothers Terence and Jordin Tootoo from Rankin Inlet, Konrad McKay of Wabowden, Cross Lake’s Brady Keeper and, until a recent trade, Tony Apetagon from Norway House.

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