NAPHL announces team additions, changes for 2015-16 season
March 25, 2015
The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) has announced that the Lockport Express, Thunder Bay Kings and Washington Little Caps have all been accepted as new members of the NAPHL for the 2015-16 season. In addition, the Lansing Capitals and West Michigan Hounds have merged to form the West Michigan Elite Hockey Club and the Philadelphia Little Flyers have added a 16U team for the 2015-16 season.
This is the first announcement of the NAPHL line-up of teams for the 2015-16 season. While the current membership stands at 14 different organizations, there are still some applications being accepted, considered and reviewed for the upcoming 2015-16 season. A final number of teams, a list of accepted members and the 2015-16 NAPHL event schedule will be posted in the near future.
The Lansing Capitals and West Michigan Hounds have merged and formed the West Michigan Elite Hockey Club, who will also compete in the NAPHL in the upcoming 2015-16 season at the 18U and 16U levels. The Lansing Capitals were a founding member of the NAPHL in 2009 and the Hounds joined the league in 2011. Both organizations have enjoyed a lot of success during their time in the NAPHL, which include success on the ice and player advancement. Due to the restructuring of Tier I hockey in the state of Michigan, both the Lansing area and Kalamazoo area were made part of the same Tier I region, thus resulting in one team and merger between the two. “Combining our two great programs will allow us to field a very competitive product. We will also be able to develop our own players through our joint effort of the 12 associations that have signed on to support us. We will have teams competing next season from squirts to midgets at the Tier I level,” said Hockey Director Tom Berry.
The Lockport Express have added teams at the 18U and 16U level, which will compete in the NAPHL in addition to their Tier III junior team, which competes in the NA3EHL. The teams play out of the brand new Cornerstone Ice Arena in Lockport, New York. “The Lockport Express program is honored to be accepted into the NAPHL,” said General Manager Frank Vecchio. “This allows us to develop our younger players at a very high level under the NAHL ladder of development and it gives those players with aspirations of playing at a higher level a clearly defined path to do so. We look forward to being an asset to the NAPHL for many years to come.”
The Thunder Bay Kings, located out of Thunder Bay, Ontario, will be the second NAPHL member located in Canada with both 18U and 16U teams. The Kings were formed in 1989 and the program is recognized as one of the leading AAA hockey organizations in North America. The Thunder Bay Kings have appeared in four National Championships, winning twice. Junior teams, the NCAA and CIS has scouted and successfully recruited many players who have gone on to very successful careers. "The Thunder Bay Kings AAA Hockey organization is both honored and privileged to be accepted as a new member of the NAPHL,” said President Al Tennant. “We are truly excited to be part of such an elite hockey group, and promise to provide competitive teams at both the 18U and 16U levels. This is great news for the entire hockey community in Northwestern Ontario, and we thank the good people from the NAPHL for this opportunity.”
The Washington Little Capitals will field teams at both the 18U and 16U levels. The Little Caps were born as a Tier 1 only club in 1983. They continue to provide elite players the opportunity to practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex and recently the club has added Dan Jablonic as the Director of the club. Dan is the Hockey Director of the Kettler Capitals Iceplex and brings a focus not only on player development, but also team development to the organization. The Capitals organization is no stranger to the NAPHL, as in 2010-11, the team played in the league under the DC Capitals moniker and won the 18U NAPHL Championship. Since that time, the organization has captured several district championships. “The organization and the coaching staff are excited to compete in the NAPHL next season. The league brings wonderful exposure and competition opportunities for our players, we are all looking forward to the challenge,” said Jablonic.
The Philadelphia Little Flyers, who were accepted in the NAPHL last season, will field a 16U team in addition to their 18U team for the 2015-16 season. Last season, the 18U team finished in 13th place and went 2-2 in the NAPHL Silver Division Playoffs. Heading up hockey operations for the Little Flyers organization is former NAHL coach Rocky Russo. The teams play out of the IceWorks Arena in Aston, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. The building consisted of two ice surfaces, a full-service restaurant, full-service pro shop, arcade, and banquet/party rooms. Since opening, IceWorks has been busy with games from local school teams, in-house teams, which include the Philadelphia Little Flyers.