NEAJBHL looks to 2018-19 season; Warriors take year off to rebuild

The Saddle Lake Warriors will be taking a year off, the Northeast Alberta Jr B Hockey League announced yesterday. President of the league, Mark Woykiw explains it’s a chance for the team to come back strong.

“We have accepted the request of the Saddle Lake Warriors Hockey Club to take a 1 year of absence to rebuild their organisation, the League will continue to work with them throughout the season and will provide support if needed.”

The Warriors suffered a tough 2017-18 season, losing all their games and twice being suspended from the league for not being able to ice a team. The year will help the team rebuild numbers and strength. It is expected that the Warriors will return for the 2019-2020 season.

The 2018-19 season will start on September 28th. The league stated that once all teams have submitted finalized schedules they will be up on the league website, but some teams have listed their home games on their respective social media feeds.

“We look forward to the upcoming season and the product that the teams are putting together, the level of competition is getting stronger each year and we will continue to work on getting better,” said Woytkiw.

Playoffs will start in the beginning of February with the top eight teams making the playoffs.

Last season the Wainwright Bison dominated the league, with only one regular season loss. The team not only won the NEAJBHL title for the 2018 season, they also won the Hockey Alberta Jr B Provincials for 2018, that was hosted in Fort St. John BC, which is part of the NWJHL.

There has been some confusion surrounding a new team in the area, explained Woytkiw. “We just want to make sure that it is known that the NEAJBHL, its teams or members, do not have any affiliation with the Cold Lake Wings, the new Jr A team to the area.  They are a league that is not in any way connected to us, Hockey Alberta or Hockey Canada.  We believe in our League and the product we put forth on the ice, and will continue to do so, but we have no further comment on an unsanctioned league or program as the Wings are at this time.”

There have been some changes in the league, Woytkiw explained, ” at the board level of the league as our former president has stepped down.  We wish him all of the best going forward and for his hard work during his involvement with the NEAJBHL.  We welcome Keith Wilkinson to the board, who will be taking the role of Vice President/Head of Discipline.”