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Daily Dish: USA Hockey Grants Appeals, Wenatchee to BCHL - Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 13 Feb 2012
By: Stephen Heisler  |  Web site: JuniorHockey.com

USA Hockey's Expansion Review Board overturned the Junior Council's denial of the North American Hockey League's Wenatchee Wild application to join the British Columbia Hockey League on Thursday, paving the way for Washington state's only Tier II team to join the highly respected Canadian league.

The BCHL will have to re-approve Wenatchee's entry, but that is considered to be a formality.

Sources within USA Hockey cite the internal issues within the NAHL as the primary reason for overturning the Junior Council's initial decision.

"Mark Frankenfeld misled the council in regards to the number of potential new NA3HL teams he had to put on the west coast, he has even tried to strong-arm current North American Prospects Hockey League clubs into submitting the application," an anonymous member of the junior council said on Sunday.  "I have to believe the Frankenfeld shot himself in the foot and overturning Wenatchee's denial is USA Hockey's way of telling Frankenfeld off. Now he better be able to produce those four teams."

The Wenatchee decision, combined with the assumption that the Alaska Avalanche will not be playing in 2012-2013, has forced other NAHL West Division teams into facing some hard realities.  Both Dawson Creek and Fresno have yet to commit for next season as well.

Fresno is expected to request permission from the NAHL to place the franchise in dormancy while Dawson Creek is rumored to be looking at Junior B.

The Wenatchee Wild's NAHL franchise is expected to be sold to a group with plans to place the team in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. That group has been put together by a former minor professional player, Rick Boyd, a fixture in the Johnstown community as both a player for the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs and now as a youth hockey coach. Boyd's son, Cody, played this season with the Bismarck Bobcats. "I'm not getting involved with this process because of my kid, I am doing this because it makes sense for Johnstown," Boyd said in an earlier discussion. "This is a great hockey town, but the economics of minor professional hockey has forced markets like Johnstown, and now maybe even Wheeling, out of business."

Wenatchee's Bill Stewart was unavailable for comment on Sunday and should be making a statement on behalf of the organization this week.


Mark Frankenfeld's appeal of the Junior Council's denial of the NA3HL expansion to the West Coast was granted.

The committee decision to allow the NA3HL to expand to the west coast has left a lot of heads shaking. The closest NA3HL team to California is the North Iowa Bulls in Mason City, Iowa. What is Frankenfeld going to do, make those teams play each other eighteen times a year? That is assuming that he actually has the four teams. We are being told that he does not.

It is believed that the committee granted the NA3HL appeal to send a message to the Western States Hockey League in response to the league's decision to move their affiliation to the Amateur Athletic Union.  

While the WSHL has formed working relationships with the Northern Pacific Hockey League, American West Hockey League and others in relation to roster integrity, the NA3HL has elected to make an aggressive move. NA3HL teams have even attempted to raid WSHL roster in order to fill their own roster spots.

The Wenatchee decision combined with the NA3HL expansion has left a sour taste in the mouth of Great Lakes Hockey League Commissioner Gary Lullove whose appeal was denied.  The GLJHL's application for expansion to Sault Ste. Marie was earlier denied at the council level.  "There is nothing within 200 miles of the Soo at the Tier III level. The Native Americans are not going to sit back and take this. They remember a lot of stuff that happened in the past," Lullove said on Sunday.  "The council gets direction from USA Hockey and we do what we are supposed to do, only to get overturned by the committee."

We are suspecting that there is going to be a new GLJHL team in Sault Ste. Marie regardless of USA Hockey's decision. If USA Hockey elects to ban 16 year-olds from junior hockey we also expect that there is also going to be a lot less Tier III leagues for USA Hockey to worry about.

Personally, it would be very interesting to see the GLJHL simply merge with the WSHL.  From California to Texas and Ohio to Idaho.  With WSHL the expansion wheels already turning in Oklahoma and Kansas such a merger would create a lot of options for current NA3HL teams that are also tired of drinking Frankenfeld's Kool-Ade.

Other NAHL Concerns

The Chicago Hitmen saga continues this week with movement concerning the situation likely to take place on Wednesday.  Fox Valley Ice Arena continues to tally up the ice bill and is banking on Frankenfeld's assurances that the league will make sure the bill is paid.

The Central Hockey League concluded the first round of meetings with the Professional Hockey Players Association without much progress.

What do you think?


posted Feb. 13th, 2012 - 3:27am
John E. Petruzzelli says:
That is excellent news for the Wenatchee Wild, the BCHL and hockey in the Pacific Northwest. It makes sense on so many levels and I am glad to see that USA Hockey was able to work through this situation.

posted Feb. 13th, 2012 - 10:15am
Bill McCorkle says:
Ice costs are high in the south; as energy costs are high in general. The NAHL teams are making it in Texas they draw decent crowds. The travel is bad but not horrible. Travel costs for a team like Fresno must be frightening. One always sees stories where a minimum amount is thrown out as the budget needed to break- even or stay in business. But that number has to be highly variable depending on the situation. The costs of running a team in Corpus Christi have to be much different than running a club in Michigan or Minnesota where travel and ice costs have to be less. Frankenfield trying to broaden his foot print is bad for junior hockey because those far reaching franchises are behind the eight ball from the start.
Politics are killing junior hockey. There are three tier III teams in Wyoming; all in different leagues. Really. It would be a boon for tier III hockey to see the WSHL, AWHL, and NORPAC find a way to work together. Bring travel costs down and keep hockey viable in as many communities as possible; shouldnít that be the goal? As with most sports leagues, all three leagues have top level teams and teams that are not playing as well as the owners hope. Inter-league play that match the teams based on their league standings could benefit all levels of play. Crowning a western champion between the three leagues would definitely benefit tier III hockey.
I will have to confess that I do not watch many NORPAC games; but sixteen year-olds donít seem to be a problem in the WSHL nor the AWHL. The few that are in the WSHL are generally u16/u18 players that are given a taste of junior hockey for a weekend or two due to injuries on the junior roster. I donít think you will find many that play on a regular basis.
The Roman empire, the Japanese empire, etc. expanded until the empire failed. The NAHL is headed down a similar path. It canít be good for the image of junior hockey to have a team in a city for 2 or 3 years only to see it fail miserably on a financial basis. Costs are on the rise and the economy canít keep up. Unless expansion is placed strategically, will continue to see communities soured on junior hockey and that canít be good.

posted Feb. 13th, 2012 - 3:47pm
Bendee McBender says:
are you serious? the apparent lynching of the NAHL commissioner on this site is weak at best regardless of so called hockey people trying to rationalize the junior hockey business (and failing to do so, spectacularly). The wild of wenatchee are all about the ego of bill stewart and will never change while he sits in charge. For his highly disciplined oriented strategic move to the BCHL and the dig and pony show praising of him, the other side is saying "look at the crap he layed at the door of Wenatchee resident taxpayers who have now seen this building take the city into bankruptcy. Dollar bill and his carnival barker act provided next to nothing of the expected revenues and windfall he and his cast of central hockey league "Canadian entertainment experts" lied to cities like this and Santa fe about for starters. The BCHL? Great bill, maybe your buddy ############# can coach the team as a way of keeping him happy over his failed Wenatchee NAHL investment. Since its now going to be the BCHL, maybe even Len Barrie could be the general manager since he's a proven expert on carnival barking and boondoggling financial disasters. Fresno provides no tax basis or value to downtown Fresno as the city is better off with Mexican rodeos and gun running shows. The na3hl will be alive and well in san Jose, las Vegas, Fresno and southern Oregon next season and possibly two other cities. Here's a final thought for the northwest based hockey experts who have given so much to this great sport, outside of major junior hockey in four of the five cities inside the western hockey league, the northwest has no legitimate hockey and never will. from Kent's impending melt down to the raping of Wenatchee one solid fact remains steadfast which is the ghost of the evergreens hockey theft and grift and uncle jerry remains alive and well as only the names have changed in order to screw the innocent.

posted Feb. 13th, 2012 - 4:05pm
Jim Sendar says:
Stephen- what do you think will happen to the Fresno monsters next year? Will they ultimately stick with the NAHL? Will they drop to tier 3? It will be interesting to see what happens.

posted Feb. 13th, 2012 - 5:27pm
Stephen Heisler says:
USA Hockey approved only

San Jose Jr Sharks--
Orange County HC
So Cal Titans
Fresno-- Is not going anywhere but out of the NAHL

posted Feb. 15th, 2012 - 9:27am
Stephen Heisler says:
I believe that the Monsters are going to only be in the WSHL.

posted Feb. 25th, 2012 - 12:12pm
John Dugger says:
I think McBender is confused. Mayor Johnson cast the tie breaking vote on the Town Center in Wenatchee. This is after the city counsel voted a tie. We in Wenatchee thank Bill Stewart for bringing junior hockey to Wenatchee and are excited at the chance to be in the BCHL. We are looking forward to some fan road trips up across the border. The travel for our Wild players was brutal in and around Alaska, sometimes taking days to get where they were going. McBender.. Wenatchee was not "raped". We love our arena and our team as evidenced by our NAHL league leading attendance for 3 of 4 years ( 2nd only this year) and the community support for the Wild and Town Toyota Center.

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