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

Fruitvale man identified in fatal zipline accident in Thailand

Spencer Donaldson, 25, was from Fruitvale, B.C., the city’s mayor has confirmed

Fruitvale man, 25, dies after falling from zipline in Thailand, reports say

Bangkok Post says man fell from Flight of the Gibbon zipline in Chiang Mai

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

Two recommendations made in probe of B.C. train derailment that killed three

The CP Rail train went off the tracks near the B.C.-Alberta border in February

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Short-circuit likely caused Notre Dame fire: police official

Investigators made an initial assessment of the cathedral but can’t yet search charred interior

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select sailings

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries will be available on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Elizabeth May’s B.C. wedding will be a ‘low carbon affair’ on Earth Day

Green party leader’s wedding party to depart in a cavalcade of electric cars

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Most Read