Pirates preparing for new-look NPHL

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Much like the North Peace Hockey League, the Falher Pirates will have a new look when they hit the ice later this fall.
The league, which shut down during the spring of 2020, will not be led by longtime NPHL president Jack McAvoy, who resigned due to health reasons. The league is reorganizing and will elect a new executive at its league meeting in early September.
As for the Pirates, having not since played since 2020, player turnover is expected. Gilbert Desharnais is still the team president and general manger, but says he is serving in a lesser role this year as others take on more duties.
Desharnais expects only about 5-8 returning players – the Pirates had a veteran roster in 2020 – the rest of the roster will be comprised of former Western Hockey League players with some Junior A and Junior B players mixed in. Training camp opens in October and only time will tell. The team will announce dates as time nears.
As for the executive and coaching staff, no new faces have joined so it’s the same people in charge for now.
Regarding league matters, the Sprit River Rangers have already been accepted for the coming season. Desharnais welcomes the Rangers back into the league.
Rumours are persisting that the Valleyview Jets are preparing a bid. Desharnais would welcome the Jets’ return.
As for High Prairie, there is some talk about organizing a team but they had not officially notified the league at press time. Desharnais has concerns about High Prairie, probably due to its troubles in the recent past, but without knowing specifics, a wait and see attitude regarding their bid is best.
One positive for the NPHL is that four people have expressed an interest in serving on the executive to replace McAvoy. Elections of league officers will occur at the fall meeting.
“I think it’s a good sign there is so much interest,” says Desharnais.
One area of contention among league teams the last few years is the number of games in the regular season schedule. While West Division teams [Dawson Creek, Grande Prairie and Spirit River] generally want to play fewer games than East Division teams [Falher, Grimshaw and Manning], Desharnais would like to see a cautious approach and play 16.
“We are short refs,” he says referring to the league being informed of the matter during summer meetings.
“For the first year back, I think we should take it easy, especially [because] expenses will be high and interest might take time to rebuild.”
The league traditionally begins play in late October or early November.

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