Say goodbye to junior hockey in Slave Lake. Last week, Icedogs’ owner Lauren Barr announced the team would be ceasing operations.

“We would like to thank our loyal fans and the community of Slave Lake for supporting us over the years,” she said in an email to The Leader. “We ran a successful team for five consecutive years (Editor’s note: it was actually four) including winning the championship in our first season!”

Barr also mentioned that several Icedog players had advanced to higher levels of hockey, including college and European semi-pro. Two examples of these are first-year Icedog Austin Mood-Flagg, who went on to play for Waldorf University in Iowa, and Loic Dury, who played for semi-pro teams in Norway and Germany this past season.

The Icedogs started in Slave Lake in the 2019/2020 season, as one of three teams in the new West Division of the Ontario-based Greater Metro Hockey League. This was after briefly being part of the U.S.-based Western States Hockey League. Their first season was quite successful; when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the termination of the season in March of 2020, the ‘Dogs were in top spot in the GMHL West, and were declared champions.

The next season was interrupted – again by anti-COVID measures – and was more or less a write-off. The following two seasons were not very good ones for the club, with 2022/23 being the worst by far. Wins were very hard to come by, and the stands were mostly empty.

This past spring came the news that the GMHL had kicked its West Division teams out of the league.
Other teams in the division immediately started talking about forming a league of their own, but Barr told The Leader at the time she didn’t want her team to be associated with the ownership of the league, for reasons she didn’t specify. There were other options she said, including applying to join the Jr. ‘B’ NWJHL.
The Icedogs, it should be noted, finished the 2022/23 with money owing in various places, including the High Prairie School Division for bus rental. Barr told The Leader back in June she would be making good on those obligations. She confirmed that in a follow-up email last week.

“All players will be placed,” she said, “and any outstanding vendor contacted with a payment arrangement.”

by Joe McWilliams

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