NJHL welcomes Claresholm into fold

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The High Prairie Red Wings and the National Junior Hockey League will welcome another team in the 2024-25 season.

Claresholm will join the NJHL as the league starts its second season, the NJHL announced May 8.

“We are so excited about locating a team in Claresholm,” reads an official statement from the NJHL on the league website.

“The great location and facility will no doubt aid in the recruiting process and offer an excellent environment for our elite full-time athletes to develop as they follow their goal to play at the collegiate and professional levels.”

Adding a team in Claresholm represents a great opportunity for the NJHL to expand into a vibrant community with longstanding support for hockey, the news release adds.

Red Wings’ team owner and general manager Kevin Hopfner is pleased to see the NJHL grow.

“We are very excited to have Claresholm join our league and even more excited to see our league grow in the right direction,” says Hopfner, who represents the Red Wings on the NJHL board of directors.

“The plan is to have a North Division and a South Division with a possibility of an interlocking schedule where each team would have one road trip through the other division.”

Claresholm becomes the third team in the South Division as it joins the Vulcan Rampage, who played last season, while the Crowsnest Pass Crush based in Coleman prepares for its first season.

High Prairie is one of six teams in the North Division with the Edson Eagles, the Mayerthorpe Northern Alberta Lightning, the Fox Creek Ice Kings and the Gibbons Pioneers, who will welcome the Lac La Biche Lakers, who will play their first season.

More teams could be added, Hopfner notes.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in other teams joining our league,” Hopfner says.

“However, it has to make sense to the league and be feasible moving forward.”

The new team will be based at the Claresholm Arena, operated by the Town of Claresholm. Opened in 1982, the arena features an ice surface, food concession, a dedicated home team stalled dressing and other amenities.

Mayor Brad Schlossberger says the community is delighted to become part of the league.

“Claresholm town council is excited to announce the town and the NJHL are bringing Junior A hockey to Claresholm this fall,” Schlossberger says.

“We are proud the NHJL has chosen to expand in Claresholm and we hope everyone comes out to support the team.”

It is expected the regular season will begin in October.

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