Saint John Mill Rats

Saint John Mill Rats
Saint John Mill Rats
Founded 2007
League ABA 2007–2008
PBL 2009–2011
NBL Canada[1] 2011-present
Team history Manchester Millrats 2007–2010
Saint John Mill Rats 2010–present
Arena Harbour Station
Based in Saint John, New Brunswick
Team colors Navy blue, gold, white
Head coach Jaren Jackson
Division titles 1 (2009 PBL Atlantic Division)
Dancers Mill Rats Dance Team
Mascot Foreman George

The Saint John Mill Rats are a professional basketball team in the National Basketball League of Canada[1] based in Saint John, New Brunswick. The Mill Rats started as the Manchester Millrats, an expansion team in the American Basketball Association in 2007 based in Manchester, New Hampshire. For the next three seasons, they played in the Premier Basketball League. The team is owned by Jason Briggs, Steve Yankopoulos, Dave Cooper, Ralph Allen and Silena Cooper.



Manchester Millrats season-by-season record
Season League Games Played Wins Losses Average Play-offs
2007–2008 ABA 40 28 12 .700 Semi-finalist
2009 PBL 20 16 4 .800 Atlantic Division champion
2010 PBL 20 6 14 .300 none

2007–08 season

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 4 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.

2008–09 season

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[2] 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.[3] On February 13, the Millrats played a scheduled home game against a Montreal team with new roster and ownership.[4]

Vermont remained the principal rival; many Vermont fans made the 130-mile drive. A showdown on February 15 enthused 1052 fans.[5] 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.[6]


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,[7] 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.[8]

2009–10 season

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.[9] 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.[10]

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/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.

2010–11 season

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.[11] On June 21, 2010, a press conference was held at Harbour Station in Saint John to officially announce the move.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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. 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 Lawton-Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the Mill Rats (along with the other Canadian teams, and Lawton) quit the league.[15]

2011-12 season

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.[1] On 1 August 2011, the Mill Rats created the sjmillratsTV channel on YouTube.

The NBL began its season with four additional teams (in London and Oshawa, Ontario; Moncton, N.B.; and Summerside, P.E.I.) for a total of seven. Personnel from former PBL franchises were involved, as former Lawton-Fort Sill coach Michael Ray Richardson ran the London franchise, and Joe Salerno of the Vermont Frost Heaves organized the Summerside team.

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.


# Pos. Player Height
United States 1 F Marc Egerson 201cm
Canada 5 PG Sherton Sanderson 180cm
United States 10 G Dele Ojo 183cm
United States 11 PG Will Blalock 183cm
United States 12 G Anthony Anderson 180cm
Canada 23 G Jerome Brown 193cm
United States 32 PF Antoine Tisby 206cm
United States 33 F Steve DeLuca 201cm
United States 34 F P. J. Young 201cm
Mali 42 C Modibo Diarra 208cm
Nigeria 55 C Sani Ibrahim 208cm
Canada G/F Alan Rivers Bowerman 193cm


In the following table of results, green rows denote Mill Rats victories and red rows denote defeats. The Mill Rats' score is given first, followed by that of the opponents.

Date Opponent Score High points High rebounds High assists Location Record
November 4 at Summerside Storm 98-112 Tisby (20) Ibrahim (9) Blalock (8) Consolidated Credit Union Place 0-1
November 6 London Lightning 70-81 Tisby (19) Young (7) Anderson (5) Harbour Station 0-2
November 10 Summerside Storm 107-108 Anderson (25) DeLuca (8) Blalock (9) Harbour Station 0-3
November 13 at London Lightning 96-86 Anderson/DeLuca (20) Tisby (14) Blalock (4) John Labatt Centre 1-3
November 14 at Oshawa Power 91-88 Anderson (27) Tisby (7) Anderson/Blalock (5) General Motors Centre 2-3
November 17 at Summerside Storm Consolidated Credit Union Place
November 18 at Halifax Rainmen Halifax Metro Centre
November 20 at Moncton Miracles Moncton Coliseum
November 30 Summerside Storm Harbour Station
December 1 Oshawa Power Harbour Station
December 2 Halifax Rainmen Harbour Station
December 11 Quebec Kebs Harbour Station
December 13 at Moncton Miracles Moncton Coliseum
December 17 Moncton Miracles Harbour Station
December 19 at Quebec Kebs PEPS
December 20 at Quebec Kebs PEPS
December 29 London Lightning Harbour Station
December 31 at Summerside Storm Consolidated Credit Union Place
January 3 at Moncton Miracles Moncton Coliseum
January 5 at Quebec Kebs PEPS
January 14 at Halifax Rainmen Halifax Metro Centre
January 15 London Lightning Harbour Station
January 20 Quebec Kebs Harbour Station
January 22 Moncton Miracles Harbour Station
January 26 at Oshawa Power General Motors Centre
January 29 at London Lightning John Labatt Centre
February 1 Moncton Miracles Harbour Station
February 9 Quebec Kebs Harbour Station
February 10 Summerside Storm Harbour Station
February 15 at Oshawa Power General Motors Centre
February 16 at London Lightning John Labatt Centre
February 20 Halifax Rainmen Harbour Station
February 23 Oshawa Power Harbour Station
February 24 at Halifax Rainmen Halifax Metro Centre
March 1 Oshawa Power Harbour Station
March 4 Halifax Rainmen Harbour Station


  1. ^ a b c First Ever Canadian National Professional Basketball League Launched, Our Sports Central, 2011-05-12,, retrieved 2011-05-12 
  2. ^ PBL Makes Decision to Remove Montreal, Our Sports Central, 2009-02-05,, retrieved 2010-10-12 
  3. ^ Berman, Carl (2009-03-10). "Millrats complete blockbuster trade with Quebec". Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  4. ^ Premier Basketball League Continues in Montreal this Season, Our Sports Central, 2009-02-11,, retrieved 2010-10-12 
  5. ^ Kevin Gray, "Millrats Love Home Cooking," Manchester Union-Leader, February 16, 2009.
  6. ^ Millrats Clinch the Atlantic Division Title, Our Sports Central, 2009-03-07,, retrieved 2010-10-12 
  7. ^ "Rochester RazorSharks are eager, ready for must-win playoff game". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  8. ^ Jonas Pierre And Al Stewart Named Co-Defensive Players Of The Year, Our Sports Central, 2009-04-17,, retrieved 2010-10-12 
  9. ^ "Concord's Luke Bonner Joins Millrats". Premier Basketball League. 2010-01-15. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  10. ^ LeMaster, Steve (2010-01-23). "Sims back, giving energy to Iowa". Pro Basketball Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  11. ^ Gray, Kevin (2010-05-07), Millrats eye move to New Brunswick, Manchester Union Leader,, retrieved 2010-06-21 
  12. ^ Millrats invade Station, Saint John Telegraph-Journal, 2010-06-21,, retrieved 2010-06-21 
  13. ^ 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 
  14. ^ The Millrats Have A Name, CHSJ News, 2010-07-27,, retrieved 2010-08-12 
  15. ^ Saint John Mill Rats Disassociate from PBL, Our Sports Central, 2011-04-18,, retrieved 2011-04-19 

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