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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NAHL officially adds Kenai River (Soldotna)

We've been seeing this one coming for several months, so it doesn't come as much of a surprise. I know they've been interviewing coaches recently, so expect an announcement on that front soon as well...

NAHL expands to Kenai Peninsula
Soldotna, Alaska-based team to begin play next season
February 27, 2007

FRISCO, TEXAS - The North American Hockey League announced today that its Board of Governors has approved the membership application of the Kenai River Brown Bears. The team, which will make its home in Soldotna, Alaska, will commence play in the 2007-08 season.

"We are excited to welcome the Kenai River organization to the North American Hockey League family," said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. "As our league continues to develop a rich tradition in Alaska, the Brown Bears will be a tremendous asset as it relates to our ultimate goal of developing student-athletes in a first-class, fan-friendly environment."

The Brown Bears will play their home games out of the Soldotna Sports Center.

"We are thrilled to forge a long-term relationship with the City of Soldotna and the Soldotna Sports Center," said Barry Schoenly, founder and president of the Brown Bears. "We plan to work very hard to create a real love affair between the people in the Kenai Peninsula and the Brown Bears hockey organization."

"We are ecstatic to have Mr. Schoenly and his new NAHL team as an anchor tenant in our Soldotna Sports Center," said Andrew Carmichael, Soldotna parks and recreation director. "The team should bring a lot of hometown pride and spirit to our community, as well as provide a great entertainment value for residents of all ages."

Schoenly was instrumental in the development of the NAHL’s Alaska Avalanche organization and is a longtime Soldotna resident and successful land developer in Alaska.

"Every effort will be made to support and expand existing youth hockey programs in Soldotna and the entire Kenai Peninsula," Schoenly said. With the addition of Kenai River, the NAHL now boasts 18 teams. The Brown Bears are the third based out of Alaska, joining the Avalanche (Wasilla) and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

"Kenai River team will be a welcome addition to our league and will create a very competitive rivalry for the fans in Alaska," said Ice Dogs president Jack Tragis, whose team will host this year’s NAHL Robertson Cup national championship in May.

"In addition to the excitement of expanding Junior A hockey in Alaska and providing a tremendous entertainment package, the Kenai River Brown Bears look forward to supporting the Scott Gomez Foundation, as well as all youth hockey programs in Alaska," Schoenly added.

For more information on the Brown Bears organization, contact Barry Schoenly by phone (907-376-7830) or e-mail (


Comments on "NAHL officially adds Kenai River (Soldotna)"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:10 PM, February 27, 2007) : 

is the forth Alaska team still a possibility for next season?

Or is this just going to screw things up divisionally?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:31 PM, February 27, 2007) : 

the NA is a joke. the wasilla team is a disgrace. I have heard the players get nothing-except the chance to move around heavy objects and help the rink staff. these owners are such a joke.. but they get ANOTHER team? they cant even run one team without ruining kids lives... lets give them another. the Avs have:no sticks, no workout facility, no fans, no locker room and no REAL coaches. I cannot wait to see new team fail, and then watch the Avs fail as well.. I love billeting these kids, but they deserve better


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:08 PM, February 27, 2007) : 

Cool Logo!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:10 PM, February 27, 2007) : 

The NAHL commissioners need to make a through investigation into what is going on in Wasilla - without benefit of listening to the owners. This team began falling apart in November when they returned home and ownership decided they were going to tell the coaching staff who to play and how to run the team. What happens - the coaching staff leaves. This team has been without a full time coach since then. Morris stepped in and tried (?) to help out, but that was not what he had been hired to do.

The reason the boys no longer have a place to workout is because the owners have not made good on their agreement with the workout facility owners. Weather that was a trade for advertising or simply non payment of bills - who knows? It was one or the other. I don't know the situation on the sticks, but do know that several of the boys are buying their own and indeed they do not have their own locker room.

I have been told that some of the new owners were left with the impression that they would make a great deal of money owning a junior team and when that did not work out they were bought out by the remaining owners. The remaining ownership has made it clear to these kids (both verbally and by actions) that they really don't care about them nor their hockey.

Morris traded three of the teams top players and did indeed receive tenders,dratfs and cash in exchange. I can understand the trades as these 3 would not be returning next year anyway and the teams they were traded to are beefing up their lines for playoffs. What you have not been told is that these players asked to be traded.

There was a practice last week when the coaches (?) were not even present. I understand this happens quite often and the players run practice themselves. Pregame run and stretch are not mandatory and some of the players show up and some don't. What kind of a message are these adults (that are supposed to be in charge) sending to these kids??

It was announced on Sunday by Jamie Smith that the Avalanche have used 6 of their tenders signing local boys.
This move simply confirmed what the locals have been fearing. Ownership feels that they will be able to fill the stands and make money if they field a team of local talent. This is a pipe dream. There is not enough local talent to field a Junior A team that will be competative with the rest of the league. Further, the head coach next year only has "High School Coach" on his resume and the t/b/a Asst Coach does not have too much more of a resume than that. When parents accross the United States become aware of the situation and the future plans of the owners of the Avalanche as well as the River Bears (same ownership) they are not going to send their boys to Alaska to play. Wasilla and Soldotna are going to end up with teams that are not on equal to the rest of the league and are going to look like just what they are going to be - glorified high school hockey teams.

The majority of the boys on this team simply want the season to be over so they can go home. They came to Alaska to play the game they love and their lives have been turned upside down. Promises have been broken, no support finding jobs, no place to workout, no coaches, and owners that don't care.

In fairness, the commissioners of this league, as well as the owners of this team need to release the currently rostered boys so they can have an opportunity to get on with their hockey lives and be able to tryout and play on a team with an ownership and coaching staff that care.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:47 PM, February 28, 2007) : 

My son plays for the Avalanche. The above post is true. It has been a train wreck in Wasilla. What a joke. Someone needs to take a close look at what happened there.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:58 PM, February 28, 2007) : 

I too have someone playing for the Avalanche. What has happened to these boys is unforgivable and the league needs to step up and correct the situation. Doesn't the league as well as ownership have an obligation to these boys to provide something as simple as a coach??? These are KIDS and unfortunately they are OWNED LOCK, STOCK, AND BARREL by an organization that simply does not give a damm. This year has indeed been a train wreck and if something is not done by the league, next year (because of what the ownership is planning on doing during the off season) will be more than a train wreck, it wll be a complete derailment. Someone needs to help these boys and get them out of there.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:28 PM, February 28, 2007) : 

I assume affected parents have already contacted the league (a/dor other owners in the league) about this situation? Something like this could/will tarnish the overall image of the league and I'd think other owners wouldn't be supportive of such bad ownership.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:54 PM, February 28, 2007) : 

i don't know if anyone else has done anything. i just copied and pasted this blog into an email and sent it to we'll see what happens........


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:08 AM, March 01, 2007) : 

Wow, I think the organization has improved greatly since the other owners have left. Art, Dustin, Diane and Chuck you should get your facts straight before you start blogging. The workout facility's agreement ran out and will be back on line in the very near future. The players have the best sticks money can buy. As far as teaching kids responsibility, we require our players to give back to the community by helping with cross-ice programs, high school events and around the rink to encourage a sense of community and contribution. Its obvious why you would like to blog your negative comments to the world instead of offer a solution to a problem. Its people like you that would like to see a program fail that offers so much to kids. Nobody told the coaching staff in November who to play or how long, they required some accountability of their employees that they were paying a great deal of money to, and the primadonna's who were not going to what to do just took the easy way out and QUIT ON THE KIDS. The tender situation has been great for the 07-08 season, but it is ashame that the Avalanche coaching staff have signed only 3 of the 6 tenders local Alaskan kids that are very talented. The resume of the current coaching staff is miles ahead of the past staff, this staff actually has worked with kids and have coached more than 60 games. Just because your a player!!! does not mean you are a coach. War Avalanche! continue improving your situation and nice job on the elimination of the dead weight that continues to vomit.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (6:31 AM, March 01, 2007) : 

As a point of order I'd like to mention that the folks posting comments here are not bloggers, so please don't identify them with the same label I have. Many of these same comments are appearing on chat forums, so for the most part they should be considered forum trolls.

To the person who sent this thread to the league office. While not trying to brag, the league office is VERY familiar with my site, as is every owner in the league. It is safe to say I am regularly read by many team/league personnel.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:14 PM, March 01, 2007) : 

WOW is right. To set the record straight - I am not Art, Dustin, Diane or Chuck - Who are these people anyway? I posted my comments about the league needing to make an investigation into what is going on in Wasilla because I am a concerned about what has happened to the players over the course of the season.

After two very long road stints in which these kids played 20 games (7-13) they come to their home base and what happens? After 4 games (2-2) their coaches are gone. It was known before the team even returned to Alaska that the Larsen / Millen coaching days were over. I am not here to toot their horn.
I will however use a quote out of the Anchorage Daily News by Rob Proffitt “These are two good hockey guys to lose” and he said Larsen and Millen were “painted into a corner”

In that same article Mark Lee said he would begin a search for a new coach immediately. Well, that was on November 24, 2006. This is now March 1, 2007 and this team still does not have a coach. Keith Morris was hired on November 1 (interesting) as the general manager and after the coaching shake up took over as interim coach. It has been a disaster since then. Keith may be a very nice person and was an asst coach for UAA, but it is obvious that he does not have what it takes to coach a Junior team or at least not this one. Rumor mill has it that Jamie Smith will be the Head Coach next year. I am not putting Mr. Smith down, but I seriously doubt that a former local high school coach has the expertise and experience to run a Junior team. What concerns me is that Mr. Smith has been a member of the staff all season and as things have continued to spiral out of control has not done anything to help

You say the workout facility agreement ran out. To me that is another flop by the management of this team. Didn’t they know how long the season would last? Why not make proper arrangements in the beginning. What by the way what is "in the very near future"? These kids have the rest of this week and next at their home base - then take a two week road trip and then are back for one week and its all over. I hope management/ownership can move more quickly than they have on other issues and see that the arrangement is finalized before next season begins.

You say to offer a solution to the problem - well here it is - Ownership needs to hire a business manager that knows how to run an organization. Ownership needs to hire a coach that knows the game, how to coach and can relate to 17 - 20 year old boys. Ownership needs to have a training facility available to the players and need to have a trainer that works out with them on a weekly basis. Ownership needs to feed the players something other than pasta day in and day out on long road trips. Ownership needs to help these boys get into school or obtain part time employment. Ownership needs to help with transportation for the kids that come from the lower 48. This ownership needs to stay out of the running /coaching of the team, keep off the ice and the bench , stay of the locker room, and watch what they say to the players about their interest is only about making money and not hockey..

Junior hockey should be a positive experience. An opportunity to learn and to grow as young men. A time to make lifelong friends and have happy memories. Unfortunately, for the fine young men on this team this year this has not happened. There simply have been too many mistakes made by the adults associated with this team/organization and I fear that when the plans for next year continue to unfold that nothing will have changed.

I find it hard to understand why the NAHL Board of Governors have approved this group of inept, unknowing, uncaring adults to have an ownership interest in a new team in Soldotna. It is doomed to failure before it gets off the ground.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (1:52 PM, March 01, 2007) : 

Hey folks, if you're going to continue on about this, stop hijacking my blog and take your bickering to Glassrattler...


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