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

October is Plastic Free Month in Nelson

City will examine its own plastic use and encourage public to do the same

Don Currie, local athletes win medal haul at 55-plus B.C. Games

Slocan’s Currie took home seven gold medals in track and field

Local runners tackle Toad Mountain

The 25 kilometre and 50 km event took runners over the top of Toad Mountain

Leafs fall 5-1 to Thunder Cats

Nelson is winless through its first two games

Disability employment awareness month: open house and inclusive employer award

Events take place in Nelson and Castlegar this week

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Nanaimo RCMP officer ‘walks on water’ to rescue lost camper

66-year-old assisted earlier this month by Mounties who can seemingly work miracles

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

20 day search for missing Labradoodle in Princeton, B.C. ends with tears of joy

The search brought out bloodhounds, and groups hoping to find Mordy

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, expert says

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

Most Read