National Professional Soccer League (1996-2000)
Born: August 23, 1996 – The Chicago Power relocate to Edmonton.
Folded: November 30, 2000
Arena: Edmonton Coliseum
NPSL Championships: None
Deepest Playoff Run: Semi-Finalist 1999, 2000
The Edmonton Drillers indoor soccer team of the late 1990’s was a brand revival of the original Edmonton Drillers (1979-1982) of the North American Soccer League. The NASL Drillers competed year-round, playing outdoors at Commonwealth Stadium and Clarke Stadium in the spring and summer and indoors at the Northlands Coliseum during the wintertime.
Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington owned the original Drillers and he was also the man who re-established the club in 1996 by purchasing and relocating the insolvent Chicago Power franchise in the National Professional Soccer League. Pocklington hired Ross Ongaro, a veteran of the NASL Drillers squads, to coach the team.
Two years later, Pocklington’s creditors forced him to sell off the Oilers and his other sporting assets. The Drillers appeared to be dead in the water in the spring of 1998. The team’s 10-person staff was let go and the team sat dark for much of the summer as Pocklington’s sports empire was disassembled.
In late July, a local white knight appeared in the person of advertising executive Wojtek Wojcicki. The Drillers had their most successful on-field moments during Wojcicki’s ownership, including a divisional championship in 1999 and back-to-back playoff semi-final appearances in 1999 and 2000. But the ad man didn’t have the money to shoulder the Drillers’ red ink and unfavorable lease at the Northlands Coliseum for long.
On November 15, 2000, Wojcicki missed payroll for the Drillers. The team was just one month into its fifth season of play. The NPSL took over operation of the club for two weeks. But the league’s other owners had little appetite to underwrite the Drillers’ losses for the rest of the winter. With no local buyer on the horizon, the NPSL terminated the franchise on November 30th, 2000, just 9 games into a planned 40-game schedule.