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SHL gives parents an alternative: CNG Rebels Hockey Club

The Super Hockey League wants to give parents a choice in where they sign up their children. The CNG Rebels, who are the first SHL team in Grande Prairie, recently started recruiting players. Co-owner Guy Anthony says the league was brought here after parents asked for an alternative to the traditional minor hockey system.

“Between the ’96 birth years and the 2003 birth years, Grande Prairie’s lost over 100 players to other organizations, sports schools, various other hockey entities from kids who don’t want to play here… I was approached by families that [said] we want an alternative but we don’t want our 14-year-old living in Penticton by himself. We’d rather him stay at home but we’re not interested in this program they have.”

Recently, some Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association parents raised some concerns about the new team coming in and taking the group’s players. In a social media response to parents, GPMHA said these types of leagues do not have the same structure or governance as ones associated with Hockey Alberta or Hockey Canada.

Anthony says that while that’s true, it’s more of an advantage because they are not confined to some of the rules set out by those bodies.

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“We don’t have a governance process the way Hockey Alberta and minor hockey does and that’s kind of the point. A lot of these families and teams that are in this were done with that kind of world of very little freedom in how to get your business done.”

The league started in 2017 with nine teams across the province. Anthony says the league now has 33 teams and is projecting to have 65 teams next year. He hopes that if numbers continue to grow, it will open up a conversation with Hockey Alberta.

“This is blowing up. This is what the people want. They don’t want the restrictions that have come with being members of Hockey Alberta and part of those restrictions are the geography that forces you to stay inside of a system that you don’t feel as though services you like it should… Hockey Alberta’s not going to be able to ignore the fact that next year they’re going to have over 1,200 kids out of Alberta playing in this program.”

Although the team operates out of the city, it will not play in Grande Prairie this year. Anthony says it will instead play in the Edmonton area so that his players can get some exposure. If all goes well, he may start up in the city next season.

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