Ryan Carter is the President of the Fort Nelson Yeti. He says the team put forward a good proposal, but there were concerns surrounding player availability over a weekend, so the team will instead schedule exhibition games for the current season, and try their luck at joining the league again next year.
“We put forward probably the best proposal we could with a package of incentives. I think from speaking from a lot of the other teams, it was taken pretty good,” he says. “There was still some concerns about player availability for an overnight trip, but there was definitely some interest from some teams.”
Carter says that once teams make the trip to Fort Nelson and see what everything would be like, he feels that more teams will warm up to the idea of having the team included in the NPHL.
“I think once teams experience it, and I’ve played in the league for five years, from my point of view, they seem to be underestimating player interest,” he explains. “That seems to be the roadblock at this point. I think guys enjoy road trips. Every hockey player in Canada grew up travelling for hockey tournaments, so I think once some teams have that experience and some of the plans that we’ve put in place to make it an enjoyable experience for players, I think that they’ll eventually see it is a good venue.”
One of the teams that was impressed with the Fort Nelson proposal was the Fort St. John Flyers. Team President Paul van Nostrand says it was a great proposal, and expressed his disappointment that it wasn’t passed.
“Ryan Carter put on a wonderful presentation to the league [Wednesday] in Fairview on behalf of the Fort Nelson Yeti,” he admits. “Unfortunately, after lengthy discussion, the league voted not to have them enter this year, but they were encouraged to reapply in the spring, and see what happens then. From my point of view I was very disappointed and it’s very unfortunate that they weren’t allowed to come in on a trial basis. The Yeti proposal was very accommodating.”
Van Nostrand adds that he thinks a team in Fort Nelson would work just fine for the league, given the economy and population growth. He admits travel may be an issue, but does not feel that should stop the team from being part of the league.
“I really think there’s a great future, a long term future in Fort Nelson. The economy, the town is only going to grow due to the natural gas exploration,” he says. “I really see a good, long term future. The distance is a hindrance, there’s no doubt about it, but I really see good potential for them to be a long time member of the league.”
The Yeti hope to schedule a few exhibition games prior to the start of the NPHL regular season, then intend to travel down to Fort St. John and Dawson Creek during bye weekends for the teams, pending league approval of the scheduling.