New league excites former GMHL franchises

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The High Prairie Red Wings are excited about moving forward in the new National Junior Hockey League.

After the eastern-based Greater Metro Hockey League decided not to renew the contracts for all teams in Alberta and British Columbia for the 2023-24 season, the Red Wings and other teams forged ahead on building a new league.

“We have been working on forming the new league for some time now and we are business as usual at this point,” Red Wings’ owner and general manager Kevin Hopfner says.

“We will be ready to play in the upcoming season.”

The Red Wings will be joined by the Slave Lake Icedogs, the Fox Creek Ice Kings, the Edson Eagles, the Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawks and the Gibbons Pioneers, he says.

“All Alberta teams at this point have committed to move forward in the NJHL,” Hopfner says.

“We will be bigger, better and more competitive than ever.”

Hopfner says the league is in the process of forming a board of directors and expects it would be finalized in the early June.

The new league will be governed, in part, by representatives from each of the member teams as well as members of the community, says a news release posted on the Red Wings Facebook page May 29.

It will focus on the highest and best practices in the hockey industry.

The new organization will allow the Tier 2 league to operate in way which are more suited to its markets in western Canada and allow for greater opportunities for development and advancement of players.

Under this new direction, the league is focused on operating at high standards and having proper policies in place to govern and hold the league, and organizations within, more accountable.

“We . . . have decided as a group that it is time that we move ahead independently in order to grow our unique brand in the West,” one of the league’s representatives says.

New standards will be set for league policies and procedures, player safety initiatives, transparent insurance policies, disciplinary protocols, education support and live streaming and media coverage.

Emphasis on standard setting will offer greater opportunities for players to develop and advance their hockey careers and will create a world-class fan experience.

More information on individual teams governing board, showcases and further NJHL development progress in upcoming days and weeks.

For more information, visit the website at NJHLhockey.com or e-mail at info@njhlhockey.com.

The Red Wigns won the last three titles in the GMHL West Division.

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