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

Glacier Gymnastics big winner in annual grant funding

Columbia Basin Trust doled out $1.4 million in grants to the regional organizations

Procter working to reopen community bakery

The Procter Community Society is fundraising upwards of $100,000 for the project

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

KAST receives $15,000 for inclusive programs at Nelson Tech Club

‘These programs will be a perfect introduction to using technology’

Nelson to send two musicians to provincial Festival of The Arts

Lucas Alexander and Nico Bucher will compete in Chilliwack later this month

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read