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Former Steinbach Pistons owner Mel Sonnenberg says a big thank you to all the fans and volunteers who helped support the team during his five years in the league.
The Steinbach Pistons franchise originally started in Steinbach back when the team was first introduced as the Steinbach Hawks; an expansion team in 1985. The Hawks played only three seasons, winning a total of 39 games.
The franchise ceased operations after the 1987-1988 season. After spending only three years in Steinbach the team was reborn in Winnipeg, winning only 93 games during their eight seasons out of the Notre Dame Arena.
Again, the franchise wasn't viable and it folded. This time they were picked up by the Sagkeeng First Nation and called the Southeast Blades. After only making the playoffs once during their ten year regime the team was put up for sale.
This is when Sonnenberg stepped in and bought the franchise, moving it to Beausejour, where the team only won nine games in two seasons.
Interview with Mel SonnenbergTwenty-one years after the Southeast Hawks left town, Sonnenberg decided to bring the team back to Steinbach.
"It was a huge learning adventure, no one was overly anxious to help out at the start," says Sonnenberg about being the owner. "There were lots of headaches and lots of running around."
Despite not always getting the help that he would have hoped for Sonnenberg pushed on and says one of his main goals as owner was to invest in the players.
"I already miss that. These boys are so vulnerable, because they are living away from home for the first time. They're all big tough men and big boys don't always ask for the right advice."
Sonnenberg says the new ownership group is a big win win for the community, and reminds fans to be patient because a winner isn't made overnight.
He also stated that he was very appreciative to everyone in Beausjour and Steinbach who helped him along the way.
"We want to thank all the fans from my wife Marianne and I. You can't have an organization without the volunteers and the fans to support the kids. That part of the game will take awhile to get over."
Although Sonnenberg isn't as involved this season he says he will still be watching and rooting for the Steinbach Pistons.
There were many proud Steinbach Pistons fans this past season, none more proud than Bill Dyck, the father of Pistons Head Coach Paul Dyck.
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