The Burford Bulldogs junior C hockey organization announced that the 2021-2022 season was its final season, concluding their 34 years in their last home game of the season on Sunday, March 6.
President of the organization, Terry Chant, said that it’s very difficult to see the team go.
“It’s really tough to see it leave, and it’s hard to be the last guy, the final president,” he said. “We’re not the first organization in the area to go down, and we probably won’t be the last. We’ve done everything we can, but with the way things are going, it’s just not sustainable anymore.”
Over the years, the non-profit organization has relied heavily on fundraising and sponsorships from community members and businesses.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to what the community wants,” he said. “The support just isn’t there the way it used to be. We weren’t able to host any of our usual fundraisers with the changing COVID-19 restrictions and that definitely hurt us financially. The cost of everything is going up and with the loss of a number of our sponsors, we just can’t keep up.”
Chant said that the Junior C team isn’t the only hockey team in Burford that has been facing struggles.
“Our local minor hockey organization is hurting too,” he said. “We used to see 500 kids play in this building, but now we’re down to around the 200 mark. Registration is down across the board, not just here. But we try to do the best we can with what we’ve got.”
The Bulldogs did not win a single game in the 36 games played this season, finishing last in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s South Doherty Division with three points.
Chant acknowledged the players and coaches that stuck it out to the end, despite the results.
“We did have some guys quit along the way, but the ones that stayed showed up and put their hearts into every single game,” he said. “I really am so proud of them. I can’t thank them enough, from the bottom of my heart, for what they gave to this organization right to the very end. One player said to me, after our final game, ‘I know we didn’t win any games this season, but I really did have a lot of fun,’ and that’s why we have kept it going all of these years. It’s what makes it so hard to see it go.”
Chant said that the organization had been in contact with a few people about purchasing the team, but noted that their most promising buyer notified them that they had decided to pass.
The Burford Bulldogs organization formed in 1988 to fill the junior hockey gap left in Burford when the Western Junior D hockey league disbanded. They have been playing at the Junior C level since the beginning, first in the Southern Ontario Hockey League before being placed in the Midwestern Junior C Hockey League in 2013, to most recently joining the PJHL in 2016.