Paradise Hill squad withdraws from NSRHL

Veteran Stampeder Calvin Fiddler makes a play during the Sept. 23 practice.

Veteran Stampeder Calvin Fiddler makes a play during the
Sept. 23 practice.

by Phil Ambroziak

When the 2013-14 North Saskatchewan River Hockey League (NSRHL) season gets underway Nov. 8, it will do so without the Paradise Hill Hawks.
During the NSRHL fall meeting held Sept. 23, it was announced the Paradise Hill senior men’s team would not be part of the league’s upcoming schedule.

“Paradise Hill is taking a leave of absence this year,” noted NSRHL president Doug Larre. “They say it’s only going to be for one year to allow them to recruit more guys. They’re down by six or seven, and don’t think they will have enough players by the start of the season.”

The Hawks’ departure reduces the number of teams competing in the NSRHL this fall to six – the Edam 3 Stars, Maidstone Jets, St. Walburg Eagles, Turtleford Tigers, Wilkie Outlaws and Meadow Lake Stampeders.

The change also means each remaining team will compete in a 20-game regular season schedule featuring two home games and two away games against each other. Playoffs are scheduled to begin Feb. 12. Last season each team played 18 total games.

“When I started with the Eagles seven or eight years ago, the league featured 12 teams – now we’re down to six,” Larre continued. “It’s never good to see teams leave.”

As for why the league has seen such a drop in the number of teams in recent years, Larre believes a big part of it could have to do with player imports from other teams and communities.

“A lot of teams bring in more competitive players, which sometimes results in the other guys losing ice time,” he said. “A lot of the players also have work commitments or no longer live in their home community because of work, and don’t feel it’s worth driving home for a hockey game. I’m hoping things improve because you really can’t go much lower than six teams and still have a good league.”

Meadow Lake Stampeders coach Ian Turberfield agreed with Larre, stating there were at least nine teams competing when Meadow Lake joined the league several seasons ago.

“The big thing for us, and for all the other teams, is the fact we’ll now be playing each other twice at home and on the road,” Turberfield said. “We’re now looking at a lot more travel and a lot more expense.”

As for his outlook on what the coming season will bring for Meadow Lake, Turberfield was reluctant to say too much until the team was able to meet for a few practice sessions.

“We are still looking for another goalie,” he said. “Rick Dallyn and Travis Harrington are both gone, leaving only Jeff Vidal. We still need to find someone to back him up. I’m also hoping we’ll have most of our core players back.”

The only other major change implemented as a result of last week’s meeting was a rule change concerning major penalties. Now, excluding fighting, if a player receives two major penalties it will result in a one-game suspension. Three major penalties will mean a two-game suspension while four equals three games and so on.

“I brought this up because we had three major penalties last season for goaltender interference,” Larre said. “It’s a trend that has to stop, especially considering this is a working man’s league. Our players can’t be getting hurt.”

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