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NPHL Bringing Hockey Back To Roanoke

Chuck Harrison

by Carla Bream

The Northern Professional Hockey League (NPHL) is on track to bring ice hockey back to Roanoke this fall.  Last week fans were invited to meet with the NPHL Commissioner, Chuck Harrison, league director of franchise development, Mike Chighisola and probable coach, Daniel Berthiaume.

Fans will remember Berthiaume as a former hockey player for Roanoke, who also had a stint in the NHL playing for the Los Angeles Kings as a goalie.  Berthiaume married, stayed in the area and is now a fishing guide on Smith Mountain Lake as well as the hockey coach for Liberty University.

About 100 fans came out to get more details about the return of hockey in Roanoke and they were not disappointed. The league will not be affiliated with the National Hockey League due to cost constraints.  Ticket prices will be set no higher than $14 and all teams should be in place by July.  The league will have a higher salary cap than the Southern Professional Hockey League and bonuses will be offered based on each team’s success.  So far, teams are in place in Roanoke, Richmond, Huntington, WV, Johnstown, PA and Winston Salem, NC.  Wheeling, WV is also being considered.

The organizers plan to increase interest in ice hockey by having players from each team visit local schools to talk to the kids and pass out free tickets.  They will also have a link on nphlhockey.com for people interested in investing in the team.  They plan to sell 1,000 shares at $300.00 each so local attendees can be more involved.  The league also has an unnamed NASCAR driver interested in team ownership.

The franchise fee for Roanoke and each of the others teams is $150,000. The Roanoke team so far has three local owners, who will be named in the near future.  There will be 70 games on the schedule, with 35 home and 35 away games, with most games being on Friday and Saturday nights.  A lease with the Roanoke Civic Center has not been signed, but is in the works. There will be a “name the team” contest as well.

To be considered a success, the team will need to draw an average of 2,500  people a game.  To do this, they plan to offer skating with the players after some games, as well as promotions such as a Ladies Night, Roanoke Hockey Alumni Night and “Bobblehead” Night.

Harrison said, “With a salary cap from commissioner on down, lowered ticket prices and lots of promotions, we feel very good about bringing hockey back to Roanoke.”

Chighisola simply added, “Roanoke is a hockey town.”

For more info, visit www.nphlhockey.com or join 1700 others and “friend” them on facebook.

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