The Trail Smoke Eaters would become Cranbrook’s nearest rival if a BCHL team came to Cranbrook. Jim Bailey photo.

Cranbrook groups pursuing junior hockey options

Separate inquiries have been made to BCHL to gauge league interest in the Key City

Two groups have approached the British Columbia Hockey League to look at getting a franchise in Cranbrook for the fall, once the Kootenay Ice relocates to Manitoba after the WHL season.

Mike Hawes, the general manager of the Prince George Spruce Kings, confirmed that two groups have made inquiries to the league about the possibility of a Jr. A hockey franchise to Cranbrook.

He says a league committee reviews applications and proposals from groups who are seeking a franchise. Once ownership and other issues are thoroughly vetted, applications are then brought before league governors for a decision.

“When a community like Cranbrook or any other community comes along that has interest in joining our league, we’re certainly going to go down that path and explore it and see if it’s viable not only for the community, but if it’s viable for the league,” said Hawes.

Prince George, which has had a junior hockey franchise since the 1970s, is geographically isolated compared to the rest of the BCHL, which has franchises in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

If a Jr. A franchise came to Cranbrook, the Trail Smoke Eaters would be the closest rival, before having to face off against other franchises in Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and beyond.

Hawes says the geographic travel distances are the biggest challenges for his team.

“That being said, we are one of the better franchises in our league, we do extremely well with recruiting, we do well in that standings, we made the league final last year…we’re able to meet those challenges head on, but certainly the geographic one is a big one for us,” he said.

Cranbrook previously had a Jr. A franchise in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, which folded when the Kootenay Ice came to Cranbrook in 1998. Those franchises included the Cranbrook Colts, Kimberley Dynamiters, Creston Valley Thunder, Fernie Ghostriders and more.

When the WHL arrived in Cranbrook, some of those franchises joined different leagues such as the Kootenay International Hockey League or the American West Hockey League.

Prior to the RMJHL, the Cranbrook Colts were a part of the KIJHL Jr. B league in it’s heydey, debuting in 1972 and winning five straight league championships.

Current Kootenay Ice assistant coach Jon Klemm is a graduate of the Colts program, suiting up for team in 1987 and winning a league championship before taking the next step to major-junior and a long NHL career.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nelson’s Charlie PS shortlisted for CBC award

Voting ends Tuesday for the prize

Nelson Nordic Club gets nerdy at provincials

The club had several podium finishes at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Bronze for Nelson boxer at Canada Winter Games

Brayden Hellekson defeated Seamus O’Brien on Wednesday

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read