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NOHA EXPANSION STILL POSSIBLE

There is a possibility that the North of Superior Hockey League (NSHL) may yet get approval from the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) to expand to Thessalon and Chapleau, SooToday.com has learned. NOHA president Fred Sadowski told SooToday.
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There is a possibility that the North of Superior Hockey League (NSHL) may yet get approval from the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) to expand to Thessalon and Chapleau, SooToday.com has learned. NOHA president Fred Sadowski told SooToday.com that the "door is not closed" on Thessalon and Chapleau despite the fact that the Association decided last month to deny the applications. Sadowski met with Scott Smith, president of the NSHL, in the Sault last week and said "some new ideas were discussed." The NOHA originally turned down NSHL expansion to Thessalon and Chapleau because it feared the two new teams might "raid" the bantam and midget programs from their areas. But Sadowski said if the Thessalon and Chapleau groups "agree in writing not to use bantam and midget-aged players it could help their cause." The NSHL is a Jr. B league with four teams in Wawa, Marathon, Terrace Bay and Longlac. The NSHL is made up primarily of players aged 18-20. "I don't want to create false hope," Sadowski said evenly, "but if the Thessalon and Chapleau people agree to this, it's something I can take back to the NOHA board." Sadowski cautioned that the Thessalon and Chapleau applicants "would also have to show that there are enough junior-aged players in their respective areas to ice a team in a competitive fashion." Smith noted that the four existing NSHL teams "have all managed to get enough players for the past five years. We are a league that develops talent and also provides a place for the kids to play." Thessalon and Chapleau can draw junior-aged players from areas that are similar and even bigger than the four towns that currently make up the NSHL, Smith told Sadowski in their face-to-face meeting last week. Sault resident Domenic Sacco is the man behind the Thessalon bid. He said he has already met with members of the Thessalon Minor Hockey Association and said people of the town of 1,800 "really want to see a Jr. B team back there." Thessalon and Chapleau were both once members of the now-defunct International Jr. B. Hockey League. Sacco added that he has "no problem" in complying with any regulation the NOHA wants to impose on the proposed Thessalon franchise. "There are a lot of kids in the area between the Sault and Thessalon who have no place to play after they've graduated from midget hockey. We just want to give those kids a place to play," he stated. Sadowski, meanwhile, said he discussed the possibility with Smith of letting both Thessalon and Chapleau into the NSHL as juvenile teams that would play a full schedule but not compete for the league playoff championship. "It would be a way to gauge whether or not (Thessalon and Chapleau) have the potential to be viable and have enough players in the (18-20) age group," he concluded.