Fingers crossed: Junior B hockey may become a reality

100 Mile a step closer to offering Junior B hockey

While there are still a lot of hoops to jump through, the 100 Mile House Wranglers Junior B Hockey Club is much closer to acquiring a team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

Club president Tom Bachynski says it’s a big step, but “there’s still a lot of little steps to go before somebody shakes our hand.”

He notes the club has put in an application for the relocation of the Revelstoke Grizzlies. There is a sale and relocation fee that the league demands, he says, adding the local club has sent that in. “But there’s still a lot of bricks that have to go together before everything is in place.”

Noting they have been working to put something together for some time, and while there is an agreement, Bachynski says there is also a number of things that have to be completed. Not the least of which will be getting the league governors to approve the relocation at its May 6 board meeting.

“We’re thinking this is going to be a fairly simple procedure, but you never know. It’s taken us [15 months] to get to this point; we’re a whole lot closer and able to announce the team we’re working with, but we’re still not 100 per cent in the league.”

The club president adds he hopes they may be able to talk to the board in a week or two to see if they move forward a little more quickly.

“Now that it’s exposed it’s the Revelstoke Grizzlies we’re acquiring, there’s really no reverse gear for Revelstoke. If they don’t approve us, which I see no reasons that they wouldn’t, the team would have to go dormant for a year.”

That would cause a severe financial impact on the ownership, he adds, as well as a severe impact on the league.

If all goes as hoped, the local club would pick up the assets of the Revelstoke franchise and have the rights to the players, as well as the opportunity to take over the contracts of the coaches.

If 100 Mile gets the franchise, the Wranglers would be in the Shuswap division with Kamloops, Chase, Sicamous and Armstrong.

“We’ll be seeing lots of travel but we knew that going in and we knew our travel costs were going to be more than anybody else’s.”

The big upside on the purchase would be the Grizzlies squad itself, as it finished first in its division.

“It’s a very solid franchise. It’s got lots of history of being a well-run franchise, picking up good prospects.

“That’s what we were looking for. We didn’t want to get an expansion team or a team that was struggling. We wanted a team that would allow us to put a winning team on the ice the first year.”

Getting a Junior B hockey team in 100 Mile is going to pay huge dividends for the community, Bachynski says.

“It’s a piece of entertainment and identity that we’re going to have. I don’t think anybody quite realizes the impact this could have on the town socially and economically.

“I think it’s going to be great for the town. It’s going to be something we’re going to be able to cheer for.”

While he doesn’t think there will be an instant impact on minor hockey having the Wranglers in 100 Mile, Bachynski notes it will eventually have an enormous positive impact.

Now, the young players are going to have something to aspire to become, he says, adding they will train hard so they can try to become members of their home team rather than having to leave home to pursue their dreams.

“The younger players – the eight- and 10-year-olds – are going to see there is something there for them after they play midget hockey.”

He notes the club will be working with minor hockey to develop players.

“I see a great partnership with minor hockey as we go forward with this.”