Hockey time

The city of Keene is on the verge of getting an Eastern Hockey League (EHL) program in the city as the Keene Eclipse are set to join the league for their inaugural season in the junior hockey league.

Junior hockey is a mix of high school- and college-aged players with the goals of playing NCAA hockey.

“We are right now just working with the city for them to go through their due diligence on us but the city has been very receptive to what we’re wanting to do,” Patrick Cannon, President of the Keene Eclipse said. “We feel like no later than the end of this month that we’ll have everything done. And then we are going to be operating from the Keene ICE Arena when we start in the fall.”

The Eclipse is set to field a team in both the EHL and Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP). The EHL is the higher caliber of players while the EHLP is a level down. Games are planning to be played at Keene ICE.

The EHL has had over 1,000 NCAA commitments from players in its seven seasons as a league. Over 90 percent of those commitments have gone on to compete at the Division II and Division III levels in the NCAA.

Furthermore, the EHL has helped players climb their way up the junior hockey ranks to play in leagues such as the North American Hockey League and the U.S. Hockey League.

Keene is one of two new teams set to join the league. The Keene Eclipse EHL team will be coached by Michael Grace. Anthony Pisano is Keene’s EHLP development head coach.

“I speak for the Board of Governors welcoming the Protec Jr. Ducks and Keene Eclipse as members of the league,” said EHL Executive Director Mike Santos in a press release. “The EHL is excited about bringing its highly respected brand of junior hockey to Somerset, N.J. and Keene, N.H. Both locations are great homes for our student-athletes and future NCAA hockey players.”

Seeing the community’s response to the Keene SwampBats and the success they have had was one of the reasons that Keene was an attraction.

“There’s genuine local interest in supporting the local teams,” Cannon said. “We really want to become a staple of the city and build up a program that people can be happy about. We want our kids involved locally as well, not just showing up to play games. The dynamic of the fan base in Keene is something that we really want to be part of.”

The team is in contact with Keene State regarding housing for the Eclipse players, according to Cannon.

More information will be provided when details are finalized.