Jr. ‘A’ in Slave Lake? Edson franchise already well underway

Callie Hermanson
Lakeside Leader

Higher level hockey might just be on the way for Slave Lake.

Hockey is on the move, as Derek Prue of the Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA) is trying to bring Junior ‘A’ tier 2 hockey to communities across Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

The objective of the WPHA Junior ‘A’ program is to give the opportunity for hockey players to compete at an high level of hockey, providing the opportunity for progression into the college or professional hockey levels.

The six municipalities announced as shortlisted to start teams in 2018 are Edson, Hinton, Meadow Lake, Slave Lake, Morinville and Cold Lake.

One of the communities that is farther along than other towns with getting a team together is Edson Alta.

Local resident, coach, and businessman Axel Axmann is the owner of the new Edson Aeros team.

The Leader contacted Axmann to obtain a better understanding of Junior A hockey as the town of Slave Lake could be a potential prospect for one of these teams.

Axmann said Prue came to town to proposel bringing in a Junior ‘A’ team to members of council where his name had been passed around as someone who would make a good fit to run the team.

Axmann said he had agreed to own and run the team as he was a big community supporter and had been involved in Edson Minor hockey for over 12 years and has been chairman for the KidSport Association for 17 years.

Axmann said the hockey team would highly benefit the community by increasing lodging income, social benefits and increasing local business traffic.

Axmann said Junior ‘A’ hockey players pay to play. According to the WPHA website the pay to play structure allows for a smaller market Junior ‘A’ teams to increase revenue opportunities that allows them to operate more confidently and develop players with refined skills programs and allows the league to create more scouting opportunities.

Axmann said players will be expected to get involved with the community while they are in town as well.

At this point Axmann said he is busy doing a season ticket drive by taking deposits on tickets, getting the logo together and trademarked and interviewing coaches.

Axmann said he has already organized a sales person a marketing person and a billeting coordinator.

“It could happen for many towns if people put the effort in,”said Axmann, adding he can’t wait for teams in rival towns to be created including Hinton and Slave Lake.

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