GRANDE PRAIRIE, B.C. – After a season that was delayed, then started, then suspended, then outright shut down, the NWJHL is looking to expand its league with another team or two.
An April 10th tweet from the league’s Twitter account mentioned Alberta cities, but league president Mike Mercredi says they aren’t limiting their search to just one province.
“We’re looking at all potential cities and towns in B.C. and Alberta, even Northwest Territory, anywhere that seems like the right fit,” says Mercredi.
In a perfect world, two teams would be added at the same time, keeping an even number of teams in the league. Having an odd number of teams can make it challenging to schedule games and determine playoff formats.
“It’s always best to add two teams because an odd number of teams means an odd number of games. You always have to be aware of that, but we did have seven teams back in the day, so we’ve made it work.”
Even though all six teams were left without critical funding for the better part of two seasons, Mercredi says all six teams are well established in their communities.
“Every team has its ups and downs, especially with COVID-19. Teams are finding it harder to get that extra sponsorship, everyone’s trying to wait it out and see which way the season goes, but all our teams are very strong.”
One feature Mercredi is looking into for next season is introducing HockeyTV to the league.
“That will give the parents, teams, and scouts that extra look at a kid. It’s a good fit for the team to sell sponsorships on the TV time-outs too.”
More than anything, Mercredi says it’s all about continuing to develop players and help them reach the next level.
“Our league is producing Division three [college hockey] players, some Division one, and we’ve got to keep the foot on the pedal of establishing a good league for the future.”