The NPHL 2013 – 2014 season is still in it’s early stages but work has already begun for the Grande Prairie Athletics. The season won’t officially kick off until the end of October but as is the case with the month of August it usually signals the beginning for hockey camps and the start of the season.
Last season the Athletics finished first in the NPHL’s competitive Western Division but eventually fell short of reaching their goal of capturing an NPHL championship when they dropped their second round 4 games to 2 to the Spirit River Rangers. The Rangers would eventually go on to win the Campbell Cup steamrolling the East division’s Lakeland Eagles in four straight.
With last season in the rear view mirror for the Athletics the team will now look to try and improve upon there second round disappointment in the 2013 – 2014 NPHL season.
The upcoming season will feature some new changes and see the return of the Fort St. John Flyers to the NPHL playoff picture. For the past few season the Flyers have opted out of the NPHL playoffs in favour of competing for the chance to play in the Allan Cup. With player retirement amongst other pressing issues the NPHL East division will get that much more competitive come playoffs.
With Fort St. John entering back into the playoff picture that puts the East at five teams moving forward. Nothing is official from the NPHL as of yet but it’s safe to assume that the last place club in the division more then likely will be missing out on this years playoffs.
No new teams have been announced as of this writing. The Horse Lake Thunder at a time were interested in rejoining the NPHL but it appears that boat has sailed and the upcoming season will feature the same clubs as the previous. The Manning Comets made their return to the NPHL after an absence and have been granted membership status. While the Comets return was successful it appears that another former NPHL team is interested in rejoining the NPHL.
It remains to be seen how much credibility lies in a Facebook page but the community of Fort Nelson is apparently interested in bringing back Senior hockey. Dubbed the Fort Nelson Yeti the club is apparently looking at putting together a team for the upcoming season but as mentioned in another post they will have their work cut out for them if they have hopes in joining the NPHL this season (or in general).
As for Grande Prairie it’s expected that there may be a few more new faces in the lineup then in previous seasons. A lot of last seasons club remains in tact but question marks remain on certain players status as we head into the season. Be sure to visit grandeprairieathletics.com for more news on the upcoming season as well as the announcement of dates for the teams upcoming open skates which are aimed at any players interested in trying out for the hockey team.