GRANDE PRAIRIE, A.B. – The NWJHL is officially back to seven teams, and there’s a chance that the league could expand further in the next few years.
At the league’s annual general meeting in Grande Prairie last Saturday, the league’s teams voted in favour of allowing the Beaverlodge Blades to return for the upcoming 2017-2018 season. The Blades previously suspended operations during the previous season due to a lack of players caused by several factors. The Blades played their final game before folding at the North Peace Arena, when they fell to the Fort St. John Huskies 21-2 with only ten players on the bench.
NWJHL CEO Ambrose Ralph says that the team has been given a one year probation in the league, and are being run by new management that previous ran the team a number of years ago. Ambrose says that if the team can make it through the season in good standing, they’ll be invited back the following season.
In addition to Beaverlodge returning, Ambrose says that there’s a possibility of at least one other team joining the league this upcoming season. At the meeting, the league heard from a group that wants to bring a team to High Level. After submitting their application last year, the league says that the team still needs to demonstrate how they would bring and retain players in the community of 3,200, which is located roughly 300 kilometres north of Peace River.
Ambrose says that another group that has expressed interest in fielding a team is located in Edson, which is the located 315 kilometres southeast of Grande Prairie. Ralph says that they would likely apply to join before the 2018-2019 season.
Among other changes, Ralph says that the league will be retiring the Senators Cup, which is awarded to the top team in the playoffs. The league will work on designing a new trophy that will be awarded to the top team at the end of the upcoming season.