The town of Whitecourt, Alberta will join the Alberta Junior Hockey League for the 2012-2013 season. The Alberta Junior Hockey League today unanimously approved a request submitted by the St Albert Steel to relocate the hockey club.
The Whitecourt Wolverines will begin operation immediately with details regarding the hockey operations staff, management and administration to be announced shortly. The Wolverines will compete in the AJHL North Division, replacing the Steel and maintaining a balance of eight teams per division. The newest member of the AJHL will play out of the recently renovated Scott Safety Centre in Whitecourt, a 1,058 seat facility.
The city of St Albert has a long standing history with the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The city was previously home to the St Albert Saints (1977-2004) and recently the St Albert Steel (2007-2012).
The decision to move the AJHL franchise from St Albert was evaluated extensively by the League and the AJHL Board of Governors. “A relocation committee was established to perform a number of interviews, evaluations, and research into the relocation of the Steel hockey club,” stated AJHL President Craig Cripps. “The fans and supporters of the Steel will no doubt feel a loss following the exit of the franchise and it is an unfortunate situation for all involved.”
“The St Albert Steel Hockey Club proposed relocation to the town of Whitecourt following careful consideration of financial resources, the available options, and our vision for future growth of a successful AJHL team,” stated St Albert Steel General Manager and Head Coach Greg Parks.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League believes Whitecourt will provide ample opportunities for the franchise to thrive in a new community. With the relocation of the Steel, the owners of the Junior B Wolverines have agreed to disband the team to avoid competing markets. “The town of Whitecourt and the corporate community have provided phenomenal support to the Whitecourt Wolverines,” said Cripps. “The energy and excitement surrounding the acquisition of a Junior A team will only heighten the success of the AJHL’s newest member.”
The Scott Safety Centre, home of the Whitecourt Wolverines, is the town’s main recreational facility and has been fitted with a $3.7M renovation. The facility houses two rinks, a restaurant, and offers teams and patrons all the amenities.
Whitecourt is home to a diverse group of industries with forestry, oil & gas, and tourism playing key roles in economic development. Located in west-central Alberta, the town has been recorded as one of the fastest growing regions in the province. The population of Whitecourt is quickly nearing 14,000.