The town of Niverville has already received approval for an expansion Manitoba Junior Hockey League franchise scheduled to begin play in a sparkling new arena by the fall of 2022.
What hasn't been revealed is a team nickname or a leadership team for the on-ice product.
Expect those boxes to be ticked by early next month when chairman Clarence Braun and the club's nine-member board hammer out the details.
The process of naming the team advanced to a final stage Thursday when a 12-name short list was unveiled to the public after a community and online outreach. Fans wanting to have their say can access an online poll at nivervillecitizen.com to make their selection.
"The board's going make the final decision and we will open it up to get the perspective of the community," said Braun, who is joined on the board by Ray Dowse, Scott Wallace, Carl Fast, Bryan Trottier, Kevin Lansard, Tom Kleysen, Dylan Wiens and Jeremy Braun.
"We had over 300 submissions and we know what some of the strong preferences were. We kind of maybe concur with some of those but we don't want to tip our hand, either."
Two of the early favourites include the Clippers, a name long associated with senior and minor hockey teams from Niverville and nearby Ste. Agathe, and the Threshers, with the obvious agricultural tie-ins to the area as well as compelling logo design possibilities.
Online polling will continue until Jan. 9. At that time, the board will announce a choice while also kickstarting the process of choosing a logo and colours.
"The winning name will not necessarily be the one with the highest number of votes," said Braun. "However, the amount of support from the general public will be considered when the board makes their final decision."
In September, the not-for-profit organization secured a three-year lease to use the newly constructed Niverville Community Resource and Recreation Centre.
Next up will be the hiring of a head coach and general manager, although Braun hinted one individual will hold both titles. That hire will also be announced next month.
MJHL commissioner Kevin Saurette said while the pace of Niverville's franchise rollout has been slower that expected, he was content with its progress.
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"I think they wanted to have a coach and GM named in advance of this timeline (and) I think they're still in a positive position," said Saurette. "From my understanding, they've come to an agreement with the head coach/GM and they're planning to make an announcement in early January. So, on that front and timeline-wise and in planning for next season starting in September, we're still happy with where they are."
The newly hired hockey operations staff will have to hit the ground running.
"The biggest thing is essentially Jan. 11, especially when they can start adding players to their (50-man) protected list and building their protected list, and signing players to (a) letter of intent for the upcoming season," said Saurette.
Other important dates include the MJHL Draft of 15-year-old prospects, slated for June 4-5. The Niverville franchise will also be able to start making Canadian Junior Hockey League trades beginning June. 1.
Mike Sawatzky Reporter
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.