The 15 Tiger Hills Hockey League teams will have to deal with a new import rule that was passed at the league’s spring meeting Monday night in Wawanesa.
THHL president Rodney White noted that imports will now be designated as level A or level B.
Level A imports are players who competed in the Western Hockey League or played semi-pro. Level B is considered players with Manitoba Junior Hockey League experience.
Teams can sign up to six imports and that total may include a maximum of two level A imports.
Goaltenders are exempt.
The league also included a grandfather clause where if an import played six or more years with their current team they are no longer considered an import. If a players current address is within 30 kilometers of their home rink, they are not considered an import if they played minor hockey or high school hockey in their home rink.
"It's going to really put an importance on your minor hockey system,” said White who played for his hometown Neepawa Farmers and after many years as the league’s vice president, is replacing Brian Franklin as league president. “We have the biggest centre by far in Neepawa. I kind of kept to myself for the most part when it came to making rules because we have such a large centre but we also have communities like Cartwright and Hartney who have 300-400 people in them and they're trying to make a team of 25 guys so it's a little bit harder. The vote was 14-1 so we were pretty well unanimous to vote it in. Guys know that this needs to happen and different things have been happening over the last dozen years or more that kind have made it clear that we need something like this in our league."
"There will be some different recruiting that will be done over the summer but everyone knows the rule going forward which is why it was so important to get his rule done in the spring,” added White. “We've had interest from three other teams as well so we could be anywhere from 15-18 to less than that. We could have an extremely large league next year depending on how things go."
White also confirmed that plans are in the works for a Tiger Hills Hockey League golf tournament which would be held in Neepawa this summer.
The Boissevain Border Kings went 27-0 this season en route to capturing the THHL championship.
The Border Kings suffered their only loss of the season Sunday night in Virden. The South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League champion Warren Mercs held on for a 7-6 victory over Boissevain in the final of the Provincial Senior “A” Hockey Championship.
The Border Kings, Killarney Shamrocks, Virden Oil Kings, Hartney Blues, Deloraine Royals, Melita Bisons and Souris Elks comprised the West Division this past season while the East Division consisted of the Minnedosa Bombers, Cartwright Clippers, Neepawa Farmers, Gladstone Lakers, MacGregor Wild, Pilot Mound Pilots, Carberry Plainsmen and Wawanesa Jets.