Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wild Aim To Impress BCHL:

The plot continues to thicken on the Wenatchee Wild joining the BCHL as it appears now to be more likely than ever before.

Upon listening to BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale in conversation with Nanaimo Clippers play-by-play voice Dan Marshall (hear it here), it looks like it can't happen for 2012-13 but is a very real possibility for 2013-14.

This article was posted on the website of the Wenatchee World newspaper yesterday:

Wild aim to impress BCHL

Monday, February 27, 2012

WENATCHEE — While the Wenatchee Wild’s players and coaches will be looking to secure sole possession of second place in the NAHL West Division this weekend, the front office will be more focused on the team’s long-term future.

British Columbia Hockey League commissioner John Grisdale and a member of the BCHL’s expansion committee will be in Wenatchee Friday and Saturday, including Saturday’s game against the Fresno Monsters, and Wild director of business operations Carla Stewart said the team hopes for a big and raucous turnout to help convince the BCHL brass to admit Wenatchee into the league.

“The hopes are Wenatchee comes out and shows the commissioner and expansion committee that we have support and a fan base that will allow us to play next year (in the BCHL),” Stewart said. “We think we’ll be able to (answer) some of their concerns when they see we already have an operational entity that can join the BCHL.”

The Wild franchise, currently playing in its fourth year in the North American Hockey League, has applied to the BCHL twice this season. USA Hockey, the governing body for amateur ice hockey in the United States, initially blocked a Wild move to the BCHL, but reversed its decision after reviewing an appeal by the franchise earlier this month.

The BCHL has told the Wild that it will be considered as an “expansion” franchise for the 2013-14 season, but the Wild ownership is making a push to join the league next season.

“What we’d like to do is convince them that it’s in everybody’s best interest for us to play next season (in the BCHL),” Stewart said.

There’s still a possibility the Wild could play one more season in the NAHL, but Stewart said the team is one of seven or eight NAHL franchises that have been granted dormancy for next season.

“We’re quite open to playing another year (in the NAHL). It just depends on how the league handles that,” Stewart said.

Three of the Wild’s NAHL West Division rivals — the Alaska Avalanche, Fresno Monsters and Dawson Creek Rage — have also been granted dormancy, meaning the Wild’s already daunting travel schedule could be even worse with three of their closest opponents sitting out.

Travel issues are the main reason for the Wild’s application to the BCHL. In the NAHL, Fresno (Calif.) and Dawson Creek (British Columbia) are their shortest road games at 920 miles from Wenatchee. Meanwhile all 16 BCHL teams are located within 635 miles of Wenatchee.

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