Push on to bring senior hockey back to SL

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Senior hockey might be returning to Slave Lake. That’s still a pretty big ‘if,’ but at least it’s being talked about, and an organizing effort has started.

In the middle of it is Ronnie Lukan of Slave Lake. He says the idea came into sharper focus recently when he ran into North Peace Hockey League President (and former Slave Lake resident) Mike Mercredi while reffing at a tournament in High Prairie.

“Mike and I have been talking,” he says.

One thing Mercredi encouraged was an application to join the NPHL, which would have to be at the league’s spring meeting.

So far, Lukan says, three or four local people are interested in organizing the bid for a franchise. How it turns out, and whether the application is actually made remains to be seen, but here’s how Lukan envisions it.

For starters, it wouldn’t be a strictly Slave Lake team.

Slave Lake would be the hub, as Lukan envisions it, but it wouldn’t be called a ‘Slave Lake’ team.

It would be a regional effort, including Slave Lake, High Prairie, and First Nations communities in the Lesser Slave Region.

Lukan says he doesn’t think there are enough players in just one of those communities to make it work.
With a joint effort, the pool of players – and sponsors – makes the proposition that much more viable.
“It would be a ‘Big Lakes,’ team,” he says.

The first thing to do is get a committee established. Then, Lukan says, the plan would be to have an “ID skate” for people interested in playing.

“We’d need a letter of support from the Town of Slave Lake,” he says, and that would accompany the delegation to the league meeting.

Any application would have to get the approval of a majority of existing NPHL teams, who would have longer road trips to contend with.

This past season the league had seven teams, in two divisions.

In the East Division were the Falher Pirates, Manning Comets and Valleyview Jets.

The West Division teams were Dawson Creek Canucks, Grande Prairie Athletics, Spirit River Rangers and Fort St. John Flyers.

The High Prairie Regals had applied last fall to re-enter the league, but the application was rejected.

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