There will be a league to play in for Ponoka Minor Hockey teams, it just isn’t known which one yet.
Back in late March, the North Central Minor Hockey Association (NCMHA) officially dissolved and left several minor hockey associations in the region without a place to play for the coming season.
The 16-60 League — which includes rural teams within a 100 kilometre radius of Edmonton — following its annual general meeting on May 6 announced that it had approved acceptance into the league of the associations from the now former NCMHA. That included Ponoka, Maskwacis, Bashaw, Battle River, Alix, Viking and Forestburg.
However, it could only be confirmed that Ponoka Minor Hockey Association (PMHA) teams from the novice to midget divisions will once again compete in the Northern Alberta Interlock next season.
Attempts to reach PMHA for further information about the situation were not successful by press time.
Meanwhile, Hockey Alberta is pressing ahead with its committee to establish new regulations that will hopefully see A level and lower minor hockey leagues standardized across the province, while also having more competitive tiers in those divisions. The hope is that work of the committee, which began meeting earlier this year, will eliminate the practice of league’s poaching teams or associations.
Teams and associations jumping ship, either for political or competitive reasons, has been going on for decades.
Sylvan Lake’s Graham Parsons, the Zone Four representative on Hockey Alberta’s operations advisory committee, explained the NCMHA at one time was the model league in the province.
“The NCMHA was the one everyone looked to back in the day, it was the one gobbling up teams from other places,” he said.
“It got to be so much that some teams formed the 16-60 and that took away much of the northern half of the NCMHA. That was followed some years later by teams going to the South Central Hockey League, which really lessened the number of tier one teams left in the NCMHA.”
Parson added that leagues currently don’t have formal borders and associations can form any league, so long as its bylaws and regulations comply with the rules on operation set out by Hockey Alberta.
“All leagues can operate as they want, so long as they conform to Hockey Alberta’s bylaws,” he said.
“That’s why the committee was struck, to try and get the leagues to partner and hopefully standardize the way they operate.”
According to Hockey Alberta, the new standardized league model should be ready for implementation by the start of the 2018-19 season.