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Massena announced as second team in North Atlantic Professional Hockey League

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MASSENA — They’re still in the process of filling out their ranks, but officials with the North Atlantic Professional Hockey League said Tuesday that Massena will definitely be one of the teams.

They said in a news release that Massena Pro Hockey LLC has been accepted as the second member team into the professional hockey league and will play out of the 1,200-seat Massena Arena. The season will open Oct. 10.

The ownership group has narrowed its search for a head coach and general manager to three “highly talented coaches from North America,” according to the news release. The ownership group includes Darby Oakes, former owner of the Akwesasne Warriors, who participated in the Federal Hockey League.

The owners intend to have a “major press conference” in June to announce the coaching staff and front office personnel. The team also will formally announce its name and mascot.

NAPHL President Phil DeFranco, who formerly was associated with the FHL, said in a telephone interview that it’s looking to form eight teams — four in the United States and four in Canada. Massena and a team from North Adams, Mass., are the only two that have been announced so far.

Jerry Deno, who also was affiliated with the FHL and now serves as vice president of the NAPHL, and Kresten F. Ericksen, vice president of expansion, are scheduled to meet with five owners of teams in another league Sunday in Cornwall, Ontario, according to Mr. DeFranco.

There is also a possibility that some teams now in the Federal Hockey League could jump into the new league.

“This is going to be a regional league. The longest trips of the proposed four teams (in the U.S.) are probably going to be five and a half to six hours,” Mr. DeFranco said.

The league is looking at playing a 52-game schedule if it fields all eight teams, he said. There will be games Oct. 10 and 11, and the U.S. teams will play Fridays and Saturdays. Once the National Football League’s Super Bowl is over, additional games will be played on Sundays. The league also plans to stage Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Eve games.

The regular season will end March 8, and the tentative playoff schedule goes until March 29 if necessary.

“The finals are the best out of five,” Mr. DeFranco said.

In addition to hockey, he said, the league is working with different companies to set up promotions for fans.

While Massena recreation officials said they have heard nothing since an initial presentation by Mr. Ericksen last month, Mayor James F. Hidy said he has talked with Mr. DeFranco.

“I’m directing everything to you because you guys are in the know,” Mr. Hidy told the Massena Joint Recreation Commission during its monthly meeting Tuesday.

He said Massena would be happy to have the team in the community. “We are enthusiastic about the new league and we look forward to working with them. This is great for Massena and we are going to support the team as much as possible,” he said.

Recreation officials said they’re waiting to hear from Mr. Oakes to set up a plan for use of the arena, which also is used by several other groups during the winter, including Massena Minor Hockey, Massena Central School, the Massena Figure Skating Club and a broomball league.

“We need to see something concrete,” board member George Hammill said.

The Massena team expects to have its website up and running by the end of May. In the interim, information is available on the league’s website, www.NAPHL.us.

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