Saint John Mill Rats
|Saint John Mill Rats|
|History||Manchester Millrats (ABA)
Manchester Millrats (PBL)
Saint John Mill Rats (PBL)
Saint John Mill Rats (NBLC)
|Location||Saint John, New Brunswick|
|Team colours||Navy blue, gold, white
|Team manager||Ian McCarthy|
|Head coach||Rob Spon|
The Saint John Mill Rats are a Canadian professional basketball team based in Saint John, New Brunswick. They compete in the National Basketball League of Canada (NBL), as a member of the Atlantic Division. The Mill Rats play their home games at Harbour Station. The team's general manager and president is Ian McCarthy. The Mill Rats are one of two pro basketball teams from the province of New Brunswick, the other being the Moncton Miracles. The team was established in 2007 as the Manchester Millrats, an expansion team based in Manchester, New Hampshire, which played in the American Basketball Association (ABA). They would later move to the Premier Basketball League (PBL) in 2008.
|This section needs to be updated. (June 2014)|
The Manchester Millrats, in their inaugural season in the ABA, compiled a regular-season record of 28–12, playing their home games at the Fieldhouse of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). They won their first 12 games and won their first four games against the reigning champion Vermont Frost Heaves, the only losses the Frost Heaves had all year. The Millrats were one of eight teams to make the post-season. They got to the semifinals but lost in overtime to the San Diego Wildcats. Larry Lessett was the head coach.
There were logistical nightmares, as two of the four teams in the Millrats' division suspended operations. The ABA flew the Millrats to the Bahamas once and to Singapore twice to play against ABA teams with no local competition. Nevertheless, Millrats management organized additional games against local rivals and gave season-ticket owners the full number of events they had been promised, although the final regular-season game was played at a private center ten miles away.
Point guard Anthony Anderson got the ABA's Most Valuable Player award and other awards and mentions. Ian McCarthy was named the league's General Manager of the Year. But Ismael Caro and Ife Anosike were separated from the team after a brawl that brought a game in Vermont to a premature end.
The logistical problems of the ABA led the Millrats to join the Premier Basketball League, with teams from Vermont, Quebec City, and Halifax. The 20-game PBL regular season did not start until January 2009. The Millrats and three other teams from the PBL's Atlantic Division added 6 exhibition games apiece in pursuit of the "Champlain Cup." The Millrats played three other exhibitions, including two against the Arecibo Captains of Puerto Rico.
Owner Jason Briggs bought a mansion in Manchester and remodeled it to contain sauna, steam rooms, a dinner table on stilts, and custom, seven-foot bunks. Players and coaches resided there and the garage became the business office. Sam Carey joined P.J. Young as Millrats who had played college basketball on the same home court for SNHU. Ife Anosike rejoined the Millrats, left at mid-season to pursue a nursing career, but returned for the playoffs.
The Millrats started the PBL regular season with two road losses, but lost only two other games and finished the regular season at 16-4, atop the Atlantic Division. The team was undefeated at home, and undefeated in February, for which Rob Spon got the PBL Coach of the Month award and Desmond Ferguson got a Player of the Week award.
On February 5, the PBL suspended the Montreal Sasquatch and conducted a dispersal draft on February 7. The Millrats selected Jamaal Wise. On March 9, the Millrats traded Wise and other considerations to Quebec for power forward John Ruffus, whom Quebec selected in the same dispersal draft. This was called the PBL's first in-season player trade. On February 13, the Millrats played a scheduled home game against a Montreal team with new roster and ownership.
Vermont remained the principal rival; many Vermont fans made the 130-mile drive. A showdown on February 15 enthused 1052 fans. February's winning streak ended on March 6 with an overtime loss to Vermont in Burlington, but the Millrats clinched the Atlantic Division the next day in Quebec.
Third-seeded Manchester met the second-seeded Rochester RazorSharks for the best-of-three PBL semifinals. The RazorSharks delayed the third and deciding game four days, blamed on a malfunctioning backboard, and won the game to eliminate the Millrats. Millrats point guard Al Stewart shared post-season honors for the PBL Defensive Player of the Year.
The PBL had massive turnover of franchises and began the 2009–10 season reduced from 13 to 9 teams, playing as a single division. Four teams of the old Atlantic Division returned, except the problematic Montréal franchise. But the entire Midwest Division disappeared. Battle Creek, with the league's best record, quit the PBL over the PBL's decision to hold a one-game league championship in Rochester, denying Battle Creek up to two home dates, and over disagreement over compensation for this decision. In the Eastern Division, Rochester and Buffalo returned, but the Wilmington franchise left, reportedly over loss of nearby competitors. However, the Maryland GreenHawks (formerly the Nighthawks) came out of dormancy, and the PBL picked up the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry from the Continental Basketball Association; and the Capitanes de Arecibo, from the Baloncesto Superior Nacional league of Puerto Rico.
Heath Teixeira was promoted to head coach. An exposure combine on October 24–25, 2009, drew over 70 athletes. The Champlain Cup became a three-team tournament hosted by the Vermont Frost Heaves from December 27–29 against the Millrats and the Québec Kebs. The Millrats won the Cup with lopsided victories. The team played no exhibition games at home.
Among players from the previous season, only Al Stewart and Marlowe Currie started the regular season with the Millrats, and they were not with the team by late January. Charles Mason trained with the team and joined the roster in late January, as did P.J. Young. Anthony Anderson rejoined the team after a year's absence, and Charles Easterling joined in mid-season. The Millrats drafted Tyrece Gibbs and Eric Gilchrese, alumni of the University of New Hampshire, with their picks in the PBL player draft. The signing of Luke Bonner on January 15 spurred media interest, as Bonner is from Concord, New Hampshire, and is the brother of Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs. But he played only the weekend of January 16–17 before going to the Austin Toros in the NBA Development League. On January 21, Currie was traded to Halifax.
Admission to the SNHU Fieldhouse remained at $10 ($90 for a ten-game season ticket), but the bleachers on one side were replaced by $17 courtside seating. Mascot Millie the Millrat was not seen, but a dog mascot took his or her place, wearing 00. One home game was moved to Hesser College, and one was moved to UNH, as it featured Keith Friel of the visiting Rochester Razorsharks (the son of former UNH Head Coach Gerry Friel) and the two UNH alumni mentioned above for the Millrats.
In May 2010, a report surfaced that the Millrats ownership was looking to leave Manchester for Saint John, New Brunswick, saying that seating and concessions in the arena were the main impetus for moving. On June 21, 2010, a press conference was held at Harbour Station in Saint John to officially announce the move. A naming contest was held in conjunction with Rogers Communications titled "Got Name?" where fans could text their choice of name via text-messaging. The choices for the names were: Millrats, Fog, Shamrocks, Fire, and Rip Tide. The fans could also select their own. On July 27, Ian McCarthy, president of the team, announced that with overwhelming support, the Mill Rats moniker would remain the same, although a space was added between the two words. A new logo was also unveiled.
The Mill Rats were in contention for most of the regular season, but finished with a record of 9–11, in 5th place, one game out of the playoffs.
The playoffs were notable for New York state-based referees traveling to work several away games involving the Rochester Razorsharks (which share a common owner with the PBL). When this, an uneven number of foul calls, and a final game terminated prematurely by fan reaction marred the semifinal series in Quebec, McCarthy (who had chafed at out-of-state referees during the 2009 playoffs) wrote a protest letter to the league on behalf of his and the other Canadian teams. The same events recurred in the final series, which concluded in the Mill Rats and Rainmen quitting the PBL moments after the playoffs ended. The Kebs followed suit one day later, with Lawton-Fort Sill suspending operations.
NBL Canada: 2011–present
On 12 May 2011, the Mill Rats (along with the existing Halifax and Québec teams of the PBL) were announced as founding members of the National Basketball League of Canada. On 12 October, the Mill Rats announced the signing of former Detroit Pistons guard Will Blalock. The team looked forward to intense interest for the season given the 2011 NBA lockout.
After the 2015–16 season, the NBLC announced that the Mill Rats ownership group would no longer continue to operate the team. It voted unanimously to transfer the ownership of the Saint John team to a local ownership group called Saint John Pro Basketball headed by Scott VanWart, Mike Cormier and Paul Vaughan. The new ownership group retained on-and-off franchise head coach, Rob Spon.
|Manchester Millrats/Saint John Mill Rats season-by-season record|
|2009||PBL||20||16||4||.800||Atlantic Division champion|
|2011-12||NBLC||36||17||19||.472||Lost to London 2–0 in semi-finals|
|2012-13||NBLC||40||20||20||.500||Lost to Moncton 2-1 in wild card|
|2013-14||NBLC||40||23||17||.575||Lost to Halifax 3-1 in division semi-finals|
|2014-15||NBLC||32||17||15||.531||Lost to Island 3-2 in division semi-finals|
Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.
Saint John Mill Rats roster
- First Ever Canadian National Professional Basketball League Launched, Our Sports Central, 2011-05-12, retrieved 2011-05-12
- PBL Makes Decision to Remove Montreal, Our Sports Central, 2009-02-05, retrieved 2010-10-12
- Berman, Carl (2009-03-10). "Millrats complete blockbuster trade with Quebec". Eurobasket.com. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
- Premier Basketball League Continues in Montreal this Season, Our Sports Central, 2009-02-11, retrieved 2010-10-12
- Kevin Gray, "Millrats Love Home Cooking," Manchester Union-Leader, February 16, 2009.
- Millrats Clinch the Atlantic Division Title, Our Sports Central, 2009-03-07, retrieved 2010-10-12
- "Rochester RazorSharks are eager, ready for must-win playoff game". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- Jonas Pierre And Al Stewart Named Co-Defensive Players Of The Year, Our Sports Central, 2009-04-17, retrieved 2010-10-12
- "Concord's Luke Bonner Joins Millrats". Premier Basketball League. 2010-01-15. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
- LeMaster, Steve (2010-01-23). "Sims back, giving energy to Iowa". Pro Basketball News.com. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
- Gray, Kevin (2010-05-07), Millrats eye move to New Brunswick, Manchester Union Leader, retrieved 2010-06-21
- Millrats invade Station, Saint John Telegraph-Journal, 2010-06-21, retrieved 2010-06-21
- Forde, Dave (2010-07-16), Rogers Wireless and Saint John’s Premier Basketball League Want To Know "Got Name?", Launch Text Contest Text Contest, Profectio, retrieved 2010-08-12
- The Millrats Have A Name, CHSJ News, 2010-07-27, retrieved 2010-08-12
- Saint John Mill Rats Disassociate from PBL, OurSports Central, 2011-04-18, retrieved 2011-04-19
- "Saint John Franchise Under New Ownership". NBL Canada. 29 September 2016.
- "New Ownership Group Takes Over Saint John Mill Rats". CHSJ. 30 September 2016.