Two hockey groups want to see the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) extend its boundaries north of 100 Mile House.
There is a group from Quesnel hockey, led by Matt Kolle, and another one from Williams Lake, led by Rob Sandrock, Tyrel Lucas and Ryan Bailey, that want to bring KIJHL Junior B hockey to their communities.
100 Mile House Wranglers Junior B Hockey Club president and KIJHL governor Tom Bachynski says Williams Lake and Quesnel have made strong bids in to join the league.
He notes the Williams Lake bid has been around since last year but missed the KIJHL constitutional deadline to make a deposit to the league, so it has been idle for more than a year.
The spokesperson for the league’s membership committee adds Quesnel came up with an application this year.
“They’re very strong applications from very hockey-minded people. They had excellent presentations.
“Obviously, they need a little bit of tweaking here and there, but for them not knowing the league, and coming up with what they [presented], is outstanding.”
Noting there are still a lot of discussions that needs to go on, Bachynski says he met with the groups on Jan. 8 in 100 Mile House for a teleconference with the membership committee.
The KIJHL has been looking at extending boundaries north of 100 Mile House for a few years. In fact, it was one the highlights Bachynski pointed out when he and his group were trying to bring Junior B hockey to the community.
“We had a good conversation. It was really interesting because the things they were saying are the things I said five years ago.”
Bachynski notes he forwarded the minutes from the Jan. 8 meeting and conference call to KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen and met with him in Penticton on Jan. 10.
Ohlhausen will put together a package of the membership committee’s recommendations and his own recommendation, Bachynski says, adding the league president will write it down on paper and send it back to the membership committee to ensure it is what the members intended.
The recommendations will go to the teams’ governors and there will be a special meeting of the governors and there will be a vote.
He adds each team will have one vote to accept or reject the two applications.
“Obviously, I can’t say what we’ve recommended at this time because it’s very polarized.”
Bachynski says he goes “both ways” on the applications.
“I think it’s great we would have Cariboo rivals. My only concern is the teams that are a long way away and how it’s going to affect them and their travel expenses.
“We [Wranglers] budget very well and I know Quesnel and Williams Lake know very well what they’re getting into as far as travel goes, and they’re prepared to do that, but it’s my other partners [KIJHL governors] I’m concerned about – if they’re able to handle that extra travel cost.
Bachynski says the Kootenay Conference teams think completely different than the Okanagan/Shuswap teams.
“The Okanagan/Shuswap would like to invite these guys in and let’s go rock ‘n’ roll. But the Kootenays want nothing to do with them.”
Noting this is where the polarization comes from, he says there was talk about the league splitting last year because there was a push by the Okanagan/Shuswap.
“I guess there is some concern again that if we don’t let them in – would that be a catalyst for the splitting of the league?
“I think it’s a potential lose/lose either way. If we invite them in, then the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference will have 12 votes and the Kootenays will have 10, so we would hold the balance of power and we would control the league so to speak.
“If we don’t let them in, is it a catalyst for the splitting of the league.
“There are a lot of moving parts and I’m not sure how to vote on it. I hope everyone has a clear mind and I don’t know what the right thing is.”
As far as when the vote on the two applications will take place, Bachynski says Ohlhausen was thinking it would happen on April 1.
However, the Wranglers president adds he’s going to press to make it earlier.
“If they want to join our league, they want to join in the upcoming season. If they’re going to join in the upcoming season, they need a running start at it.”
He notes the Wranglers needed eight months to get it together for their first season, and Quesnel and Williams Lake will need as much time as possible to get their ducks in a row.
“I would like to see the governors’ vote happen by the end of February … say yes so they can get their business plans together and get their teams ready, or say no and see what else happens in the world.”