It was just a week ago today that the Western States Hockey League announced that three expansion teams will be entering the league for the 2014-2015 season.
Casper Wyoming along with Aurora Colorado, and Oklahoma City were announced as the new entries. Sources are also indicating that with those three new entries there may be some defections from the WSHL to the NA3HL.
Rumors of the minor pro loop Central Hockey League expansion have been rampant since their expansion into Brampton Ontario Canada this past summer. One of the cities mentioned as a CHL expansion destination has been Casper Wyoming.
TJHN sources are indicating that the CHL is still intending to expand to Casper next season.
Casper Wyoming has been seen by many as a solid, yet untapped hockey market for the last few years. The evidence supporting that theory has been there as recently as just last month with the Casper Oilers Midget A team capturing their first International Silver Sticks title in Pelham Ontario.
While not at the AAA level, the youth hockey association has been growing and developing better players each year. The local youth association now has 200 members and continues to grow.
Casper has had hockey before. The America West Hockey League used to call Casper home from 1993 to 1998, and they did have some limited success.
In September of last year, the Casper City Council voted to donate one million dollars to help secure a Central Hockey League franchise to begin play next season. Former Wyoming congressman John Wold has agreed to cover the rest of the $2.2 million installation bill through a private donation if the city signs a franchise agreement. Donations for that effort were contingent on the plans for the CHL franchise being in place by this past December 31st.
No official information on whether or not those plans are in place have been made available.
The question now is, if the CHL is indeed coming, how would the two teams co-exist. While good for the arena in its ice revenues, an example of two competing teams in one city can be found in North Bay Ontario in the NOJHL and OHL.
While the WSHL is a tuition driven league, teams do also need sponsorship and ticket sales. Competing against a CHL team would not be easy to do no matter how good the market may be.
TJHN will update this story as more information becomes available.