WELCOME TO AYR!
Hello and welcome to Cens Nation! we are the Ayr Centennials Junior B Hockey Club who is the newest member club of the Greater Ontario Hockey League!
The Ayr Centennials were founded in 1982 as members of the Southern Junior D Hockey League. Clarence Eby, whose son and grandson would become heavily involved with the team, was a founding member of the club in 1982. In 1985, Eby’s son Don started volunteering with the club. Don’s legacy with the team began when son Scott started playing for the team at the age of 15, but Don’s wife Julie waited a few years before joining her husband, taking over for her father-in-law Clarence as treasurer. Working in many capacities with the team, the pair ran the Cens’ operations through most of the 1990s, which included paying the team’s bills.
In 1988, the Southern League merged with the Western Junior D Hockey League. In 1991, the Junior D rank was vacated and the league was replaced with the OHA Junior Development League. This league lasted up until 2006 when it was vacated and the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League was created.
The Centennials had success in the Southern League but failed to win any league titles.
In the bloated Western League and Development League, the Centennials did exceptionally well but still failed to make a dent. In fact, despite finishing in the top ten teams of the league ten times in nineteen years, the Centennials never made the superleague’s final once.
In the early-2000s, the Centennials lost their touch for winning. In the last year of the OHAJDL in 2005=06, they had their worst season ever, winning only 2 games in 36 tries and finishing dead last. In three seasons, from 2005 to 2007, they only won 17 games. The team was at that point where it was ready to fold.
Since joining the SOJHL in 2006, the Centennials have improved every season. In 2006-07 they finished 17th with 6 wins. In 2008-09 they finished 15th with 11 wins. In 2008-09 they really came together and had their best season in years, winning 18 games and finishing 7th. In 2009-10 the Centennials continued to improve with a 21-11-4 record, solidifying 3rd overall in the SOJHL.
In the summer of 2010, the Bauer conference dissolved, leaving Thamesford, Ayr, Tavistock, Port Stanley and Wellesley to disperse into the remaining McConnell and Yeck Conferences. The 2010-11 season saw the Centennials best season since 1983-84. Finishing 4th overall in the SOJHL, the Centennials were the McConnell Conference Champions and advanced to the OHA Cup versus Thamesford, eventually losing in 4 games.
In 2011-12 the Centennials finished 4th in the McConnell Conference and 7th overall in the SOJHL, and lost to the eventual OHA Cup Finalists, The Hagersville Hawks, in 5 games of the second round of playoffs.
In the summer of 2012, the Centennials and the SOJHL were promoted to Junior C to compete for the Schmalz Cup. On March 12, 2013, the Centennials won the first ever SOJHL Jr. C championship with a 4-game-sweep over the Lambeth Lancers.
In the Spring of 2013, the Centennials were moved over to the Niagara & District Junior C Hockey League in a major realignment. They were realigned again weeks after and ended up in the Midwestern Junior C Hockey League. Just three seasons removed from their jump to Junior C, the team won their first Schmalz Cup in 2016 by sweeping the Empire B Junior C Hockey League champion Port Hope Panthers in four games on the shoulders of starting goalie, Mitch Figueiredo.
In June 2016, Don and Julie Eby were awarded the OHA’s highest award for volunteering, the golden stick. The team’s home at the North Dumfries Community Complex sits on what used to be 30 acres of their farmland. It was back in 2009 that a former city councillor approached them about giving up the back lot of their land to build the NDCC, forever tying them to the team that they have given 30 years of service. The couple has been the ambassadors for the Centennials in that time, holding several positions on the executive – Don was assistant general manager and general manager, while Julie was treasurer – and, during the 2016 playoffs, were operating the ticket sales and door. Their son Scott is currently the team’s head coach.
For the 2016-17 season the eight Junior “C” hockey leagues in Southern Ontario amalgamated into one league, the Provincial Junior Hockey League. The Midwestern League were placed in the Central Conference and re-branded the Pat Doherty division.
In April 2020, it was announced that the Centennials had purchased the Kitchener Dutchmen with the intention of acquiring their place in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, thus promoting the team to Junior B status.
This local sports report is presented by Howie Schmidt Realty, a proud supporter of the Ayr Centennials. Schmidt Realty has been helping local families buy and sell homes since 1981. They bring experience, local knowledge plus a friendly approach to help you purchase your dream home or get the best price when selling. Contact Schmidt Realty today at 519-653-6666 or visit HSRealty.ca