According to the league's website; the league was established in the spring of 1995 out of a few exhibition games and two 8-hour meetings. In 2015, Hockey Alberta designated the league as Senior AA.
The founders of the league were George Vanberg (President for most of the next 20 years), Noel Perrin (Edson Ice), Kirk Holtet (Fox Creek Bandits), Grant Drewniak (Slave Lake Winterhawks), Diane Dickson (Whitecourt Cats), and Darren Myshak (Swan Hills Knights). The league kicked off it's 1995-1996 inaugural season with the above noted teams as well as the Athabasca Aces, Hinton Heat and Mayerthorpe Hitmen, playing a 26 game season.
The league has had three Presidents since inception:
George Vanberg 1995-2006 and 2009 to 2015
Ken McCarthy 2007 - 2008 (Vice President 2006)
Jerry Muise 2016 to present (Vice President 2010-2015)
The league has fluctuated between 4 (2000-01) and 12 (2015-2016) teams. The League's championship trophy was named the Vanberg Cup, a tribute to it's long standing President and league founder, George Vanberg. During the 2013-14 season President Vanberg and Vice-President Jerry Muise also started to manage the Senior AAA level Chinook Hockey League (Allan Cup Hockey West). After Vanberg stepped down in 2015, Muise continued to manage both leagues until he resigned as President of the ACHW in the fall of 2018.
The league began the 2014-15 season with seven teams (Devon Barons, Edson Ice, Morinville Kings, Rocky Rams , Slave Lake Winterhawks, Westlock Warriors and Whitecourt Wild). The league has the Athbasca Aces and the
Drayton Valley Wildcats taking a leave from league for the season. The league had planned on adding a new team from St. Albert, Alberta. However the team had to delay starting in the league due to being unable to secure ice in time to commit for the 2014-15 season. The league website stated that the team has been able to secure ice and will commence play in the 2015-16 season. the league will play a 63 game slate (18 games per team) that will run from mid-October to mid-January followed by playoffs.
The league expanded to 12 teams (a new league high) for the 2015-16 season as the league absorbed many of the members of the Battle River Senior Hockey League (Big Valley Oil Kings, Bonnyville Pontiacs, Daysland Northstars, and Tofield Satellites) The Drayton Valley Wildcats returned from a one year hiatus and the seven existing members all returned from 2014-15. The previously delayed St. Albert team appears to have folded. The league will have two six team divisions for the 2015-16 season.
To begin the 2017-2018 season, three teams decided to take a one year leave of absence. League charter teams, Edson Ice and Slave Lake Winterhawks, as well as the Rocky Rams did not ice teams this season, leaving the league with seven teams to compete. It is of note that both Edson and Slave Lake have competed in the NCHL for 21 seasons prior to this season, the longest tenure of any teams. It is also of note, that 4 of the original teams have played in the league for the longest periods of time - Edson and Slave Lake 21 years, Hinton 17, Fox Creek 14. The seven teams currently in the league have an average of 3 years.
At the League's annual meeting May 5, 2018, the Red Deer Rustlers and Sylvan Lake Pirates were added, while Edson Ice, Rocky Mountain House Rams and Slave Lake Winterhawks will not return after taking a one year leave of absence. This year will mark the league's 25th anniversary. The league also updated it's logo, replacing the original which had been in use since the league's inception.
The league accepted the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs into the fold for the 2019-2020 season. Ft Saskatchewan had been a member of the Allan Cup Hockey West league (Chinook Hockey League) until they ceased operations in 2018-2019. In July, the Whitecourt Wild announced that they would be suspending operations due to a lack of players. Whitecourt had been part of the NCHL since they joined the league in 2013. Prior to that, the Whitecourt Cats were a charter member of the league from 1994-2005. In August, the Sylvan Lake Pirates announced that they would be renaming as the Blackfalds Sr Wranglers, but will be playing half (4) of their home games in Bentley, half (4) in Blackfalds, moving full time to the Blackfalds Multiplex in 2020-2021. The Eckville Eagles also announced that they were moving their home games to Lacombe starting this season. In November, Hockey Alberta granted the name change to the Lacombe AA Generals. In March 2020, Hockey Canada-Alberta suspended all play due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Vanberg Cup finals series between Daysland Northstars and Red Deer Rustlers was suspended with Daysland holding a 2-0 series lead.
For the first time since the 2007-08 season, there will be no changes in teams for the 2020-21 season. In August, the league announced that it would be delaying the opening of the 20/21 season until at least December 4th due to the ongoing regulations surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak.
Current Teams 2020-2021[edit | edit source]
League Seasons[edit | edit source]
- 1994-95 Exhibition Games
- 1995-96 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 1996-97 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 1997-98 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 1998-99 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 1999-00 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2000-01 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2001-02 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2002-03 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2003-04 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2004-05 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2005-06 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2006-07 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2007-08 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2008-09 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2009-10 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2010-11 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2011-12 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2012-13 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2013-14 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2014-15 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2015-16 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2016-17 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2017-18 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2018-19 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
- 2019-20 North Central Hockey League (Alberta) Season
Time line of teams[edit | edit source]
Charter Teams[edit | edit source]
- Athabasca Aces (1995-1998).
- Edson Ice (1995-2004) and (2005-2017).
- Fox Creek Bandits (1995-1999) and (2000-2009).
- Hinton Heat (1995-2013) 2X NCHL champions.
- Mayerthorpe Hitmen (1995-1997).
- Slave Lake Winterhawks (1995-2012) and (2013-2017), 6X NCHL champs, (including 5 in a row). Alberta Senior A champs 2005, Alberta Senior B Champs 1998, 2000, 2001. 2004.
- Swan HIlls Knights (1995-1998).
- Whitecourt Cats (1995-2003)
Sequential addition of teams[edit | edit source]
- Grande Cache Rockies (1997-2000) 1X NCHL champs.
- Drayton Valley Wildcats (1997-1999) and (2004-2014) and (2015-2016) 4X NCHL champs, Alberta Senior B Champs (while part of the NCHL) 1999, 2003.
- Westlock Wolfpack (1998-2000) and (2005-2006) Alberta Senior A champs 2000.
- Jasper Wolves (2003-2010).
- Onoway Ice Dogs (2005-2011) 2X NCHL champs.
- Lamont Bruins (2005-2009) 2X NCHL champs.
- Legal Vipers (2006-2012).
- Athabasca Aces (2008-2014).
- Rocky (Mountain House) Rams (2010-2017)
- Devon Barons (2012-present) 2X NCHL champs.
- Whitecourt Wild (2013 - 2019).
- Westlock Warriors (2013 - present) 1X NCHL champs.
- Morinville Kings (2013-present) 1X NCHL champs, Alberta Senior A champs 2014 (host team), Alberta Senior AA Champs 2019.
- Big Valley Oil Kings (2015-2016).
- Daysland Northstars (2015-present) 3X NCHL champs, Alberta Senior AA champs 2016.
- Tofield Satellites (2015-2016).
- Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs (2015 - present). Alberta Senior AA Champs 2018 (host team).
- Eckville Eagles (2016-2019).
- Red Deer Rustlers (2018 - present).
- Sylvan Lake Pirates (2018 - 2019).
- Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs (2019 - present)
- Blackfalds Sr Wranglers (2019 - present)
- Lacombe AA Generals (2019 - present)
NCHL Champions[edit | edit source]
- 1995-96 - Hinton Heat defeated Slave Lake WInterhawks
- 1996-97 - Slave Lake Winterhawks defeated Edson Ice
- 1997-98 - Drayton Valley Wildcats defeated Slave Lake WInterhawks
- 1998-99 - Drayton Valley Wildcats defeated Slave Lake Winterhawks
- 1999-00 - Grande Cache Rockies defeated Slave Lake Winterhawks
- 2000-01 - Hinton Heat defeated Slave Lake Winterhawks
- 2001-02 - Slave Lake Winterhawks defeated Hinton Heat
- 2002-03 - Slave Lake Winterhawks defeated Hinton Heat
- 2003-04 - Slave Lake Winterhawks defeated Jasper Wolves
- 2004-05 - Slave Lake Winterhawks defeated Drayton Valley Wildcats
- 2005-06 - Slave Lake Winterhawks defeated Drayton Valley Wildcats
- 2006-07 - Lamont Bruins defeated Onoway Ice Dogs
- 2007-08- Lamont Bruins defeated Onoway Ice Dogs
- 2008-09 - Onoway Ice Dogs defeated Legal Vipers
- 2009-10 - Onoway Ice Dogs defeated Drayton Valley Wildcats
- 2010-11 - Drayton Valley Wildcats defeated Slave Lake Winterhawks
- 2011-12 - Drayton Valley Wildcats defeated Slave Lake Winterhawks
- 2012-13 - Devon Barons defeated Edson Ice
- 2013-14 - Devon Barons defeated Slave Lake Winterhawks
- 2014-15 - Westlock Warriors defeated Devon Barons
- 2015-16 - Daysland Northstars defeated Bonnyville Pontiacs
- 2016-17 - Daysland Northstars defeated Bonnyville Pontiacs
- 2017-18 - Daysland Northstars defeated Eckville Eagles
- 2018-19 - Morinville Kings defeated Daysland Northstars
- 2019-20 - Season suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic - Daysland were leading Red Deer 2-0 in finals.