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NPHL expands teams to eight

Valleyview Jets, Spirit River Rangers voted back in after absences; High Prairie stays out
sr. flyers vs grande prairie
The Fort St. John Flyers in action against the Grande Prairie Athletics Nov. 26, 2018

The North Peace Hockey League will jump from six to eight teams for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

That, after member clubs voted in favour, at its annual general meeting Oct. 28, of adding the Spirit River Rangers and Valleyview Jets.

“Overall, I think eight is a great number schedule-wise,” said the league's new president Michael Mercredi.

“I think the league is going to be great to watch this year. You know, everyone's knocking on the door at the arenas to get out of the house.”

The league shut down operations Mar. 13, 2020 after game 5 of the championship final right at the start of the pandemic, siding with decisions by Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada, at a time where no one knew what lie ahead.

Other than the Dawson Creek Canucks playing in the Coy Cup playoffs and championship final this past spring, senior men's hockey in the region has been on the back burner ever since.

“Senior hockey, I believe, my personal take, based on birth years, it's going to be strong for the next years to come,” said Mercredi.

“It's nice to see the numbers grow and if it's feasible, maybe, see it grow a little bit more.”

The High Prairie Regals, who folded operations in November of 2019, would have brought the number of teams to nine, but it's opted to remain out of the league.

As of Monday, a schedule had yet to be made up including how many crossover games there might be between east and west division teams.

The west will consist of the Fort St. John Flyers, Dawson Creek Canucks, Grande Prairie Athletics, and Spirit River Rangers.

The east division is comprised of the Grimshaw Huskies, Manning Comets, Falher Pirates, and Valleyview Jets.

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