NORTH ADAMS -- Start-ups always involve a leap of faith among those involved.

That's especially true if you're the coach and the general manager of a fledgling team in a fledgling hockey league.

"It is," Berkshire Black Bears coach Dave Monteiro said following a press conference at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink on Saturday. "You'll have other ownerships and teams that will follow. This just broke the ice today. It's a great turnout from the fans here in North Adams. We're excited to get going here."

The Black Bears are slated to be part of a six-team North Atlantic Professional Hockey League mix that will play 50 games this winter. The Black Bears will call North Adams home.

"It's a brand-new league with good people and organizations, going forward," said Monteiro. "Minor league, single-A, we're in development. We give the athlete a second chance. It's a good place to land and hopefully, we'll have a good winning season."

Jerry Deno is the NAPHL's vice president of operations and he said he expects the six teams to be in place by spring.

Team owner and league president Phil DeFranco said he hopes teams will be lined up for the inaugural season by May 1.

The press briefing came at the rink shortly after a youth league tournament ended for the day. A number of those who played or watched games stuck around to hear what DeFranco had to say.


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"I was happy just to come here, but with the turnout [at the rink], I was really surprised," the team owner said. "There are some I's to dot and T's to cross with the contract. [Mayor Richard J. Alcombright] gave us the OK to have the press conference.

"I'm happy as all get-out."