FEBRUARY 18
6

1

Final
FEBRUARY 26
6

7

Final (OT)
FEBRUARY 26
5

8

Final
FEBRUARY 27
8

5

Final
FEBRUARY 27
2

0

Final
MARCH 4
7

4

Final
MARCH 5
3

2

Final
MARCH 5
9

3

Final
MARCH 11
4

0

Final
MARCH 19
1

2

Final
MARCH 20
2

3

Final
MARCH 25
4

9

Final
MARCH 26
2

3

Final (OT)
APRIL 2
2

1

Final
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The Changing Face of Senior Hockey in Alberta
Wednesday, November 17, 2021

 

 

You may or may not have taken the time to read the article about the state of hockey in Saskatchewan, but after having read it myself, I see many similarities to how the North Central Hockey League has evolved over time.

 

When the league originally started up, the 8 teams were basically all made up of local players.  Many of those players had risen up through their respective minor hockey programs, some had moved on to Junior B and come home, while there was the odd player who had played major junior.  College hockey wasn't as popular back in 1995 as it is today.  Some teams would try to recruit players from larger centres with varying degrees of success.

 

Over the years, the league dynamics have changed - what was once basically all local teams has now changed as teams become better at recruiting players. Much of that change comes from the teams locating closer to the larger centres.  The Edmonton area now boasts 3 teams (4 if you include Westlock) and the Red Deer area currently has 2 teams (3 if you include Blackfalds).  Now that Daysland has moved to Camrose, the last "small town team" (although many of their players came from elsewhere) has gone.

 

The NCHL is currently comprised of 258 players.  I did a breakdown of player backgrounds and found that players who topped out at Junior B make up 43% (111) of the league's total.  Here is the breakdown of all players

CIS/NCAA/ACAC - 65 players (25% of league total)

Jr A (AJHL/SJHL) - 38 players (14%)

Major Jr (WHL/OHL/QMJHL) - 8 players (3%)

Jr B - 111 players (43%)

Minor Pro (including overseas) - 19 players (7%)

Sr Hockey - 8 players (3%)

No official background - 10 players (3.5%)

 

What I found interesting is, the majority (50%) of players (130) currently in the NCHL are former Tier 2 Junior A, Major Junior A, College or ex minor pros.  

 

I found that many players who had college careers also spent time in Major Junior prior to entering college.

 

The issue of paying players is interesting.  As far as I know, none of the current teams pay their players (at least not that they will admit).  I know in years past, many teams actually charged their players a fee to play, but I'm not sure that's happening anymore.  Teams have always found ways to offer incentives to players (gas money, meal money, sticks, etc), but to my knowledge, no team has ever paid a per game fee for a player.

 

Senior hockey in Alberta has slowly been shrinking over the last 15 years.  There are quite a few leagues that have folded for various reasons - Chinook Hockey League (which ultimately morphed into the Allan Cup Hockey West) was formed way back in 1955, and by the time the doors closed in 2019, a total of 73 teams had participated.  Now the only teams left operating are Innisfail and Stony Plain.  Other leagues that have gone by the wayside over the years include:  South Peace Hockey league, Northwest Hockey League, Central Hockey League, Battle River Hockey League, Smoky River Hockey League, and more I'm sure.

There are currently 5 Senior Hockey Leagues operating in Alberta:  The "AA" Leagues - North Peace Hockey League (looking at a reduced schedule with possibly 4 teams), Ranchland Hockey League (with 4 AA teams and 1 AAA team, down 1 team due to Covid), North Central Hockey League (8 teams, down 1 team due to Covid), Sask/Alta League with 4 Alberta teams (down 2 teams due to Covid), and Alberta'a only Senior "A" Hockey League. the East Central Hockey League (7 teams, down 2 teams due to Covid).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
PLAYER GP G A PTS
Tyler Berkholtz (RDR) 14 15 16 31
Blake Grainger (MNK) 10 11 15 26
Ryley Bennefield (CAM) 13 13 11 24
Dylan Houston (RDR) 14 10 14 24
Devon Cyr (MNK) 9 8 12 20
PLAYER GP W GAA SV%
Mackenzie Engel (LAC) 12 9 2.41 .924
C. Dobberthien (CAM) 11 9 2.83 .935
Ty Swabb (MNK) 9 7 3.08 .901
Jordan Brand (WSW) 9 4 3.60 .885
Garret Storms (FSC) 9 3 3.99 .900

Blackfalds Wranglers

Year End Ramblings

Lacombe Generals Win Alberta Senior AA Provin..

Camrose Crush Are Vanberg Cup Champions

Vanberg Cup Game 5 - UPDATED

Crush Battle Back to Tie Series

Generals One Win Away From Vanberg Cup

Lacombe/Camrose Vanberg Cup Bound

Generals Advance to the Vanberg Cup Finals

POW Playoff Edition Mar 7th

TEAM GP W L OW OL TP
Lacombe 14 11 1 0 2 24
Camrose 14 11 3 0 0 22
Morinville 14 9 4 2 1 19
Red Deer 14 9 4 3 1 19
Fort Sask 14 6 7 0 1 13
Westlock 14 5 8 0 1 11
Devon 14 3 10 0 1 7
Bonnyville 14 2 12 0 0 4