After a unanimous vote, the Glacier Nationals were accepted
in the AWHL. The winter annual general meeting for the American West Hockey
League was held in Billings, Mont., just before the winter annual general meeting
of USA Hockey in mid January. It was attended by all members of the league and
was a very positive outcome for a process that has taken more than two years to
been a long road for us with many bumps, but we are very happy to be moving up
to the AWHL," said Butch Kowalka, general manager for the Glacier Nationals.
"We were actually accepted by the AWHL before this season, however USA Hockey
denied our request to transfer. USA felt NORPAC could not exist without us. So
even though it was a financial nightmare for our club, with no financial help
at all, we had to endure the cost burden and push forward."
forward they did, with a 75 percent win rate in NORPAC, losing just four games
out of 20 in regulation play.
done very well against NORPAC opponents this season, and we hope that will
continue in the playoffs."
Nationals will combine their standings from both leagues for their points
total, but will play any playoffs in the NORPAC league alone.
been very difficult playing in two leagues this year," Kowalka said. "There is
no continuity of process, rules are different, personnel are different and
changing and communication is less than perfect. We still are having issues
that haven't been figured out and it's February. I'm pretty sure we are the
only team in the Juniors playing in two leagues, maybe ever. I never want to do
positive tone of the AWHL is any sign, the Nationals never will have play in
two leagues at once again.
of the American West Hockey League, I can say that all of the current members
are excited to welcome the Glacier Nationals to the AWHL next season," said
Dwayne Dillenger. "This past year the Nationals played a split schedule between
NORPAC and AWHL. Next year we welcome the exciting brand of hockey the
Nationals will bring to our league."
The AWHL is
excited indeed for next season; so much so that the AWHL annual general meeting
will be held this summer right here in the Flathead.
overjoyed that the league would allow us to host in our first season," Kowalka
said. "It will be a great chance for us to show off our valley and bring some
good publicity about the league. This whole process with the AWHL has been very
welcoming for some time now. I think we fit well into the development footprint
of the league and they know that our team fits well into their standards of
excellence as well."
development footprint is something Kowalka said is very important to his
players and team as a whole.
develop as a player sitting on a bus," he said. "You develop with practice and
games. That's what the AWHL offers its players. More ice time with less travel
time and a defined set of standards that are unique in Junior Hockey. The AWHL
doesn't just say it, they prove it to the players and parents. Its that level
of seriousness that we really like in the AWHL. We are a serious program and
only want to be around other programs that feel the same way. It is all about
developing the best players we can in hockey, academics and life."
just Kowalka who feels strongly about player development, either.
is proud to have the Glacier Nationals join the league next season," said
League Commissioner Mike Butters. "They fit well in our league footprint. The
inclusion illustrates our focus on strong partners. Butch Kowalka and his staff
are committed to our standard of excellence platform and we eagerly await their
Glacier Nationals online at glaciernationals.com for more information about
upcoming events and playoffs. Or check out their Facebook page for information
and photos, and don't forget to "like" Montana's newest AWHL team.