The Wranglers playoffs run has ended with a dud as the rest of the season has been not just suspended but cancelled, including the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) announced the decision on March 13.
“This development comes after the KIJHL was advised by Hockey Canada and BC Hockey this morning that the 2019/20 hockey season will not resume at a later date,” according to a press release. “As with the previous announcement on Thursday that the KIJHL playoffs would be suspended indefinitely, this decision was made with the health and safety of our players, coaches, volunteers, billets and fans as the sole consideration. We share your disappointment at this news, and thank all those who contributed to an exciting and entertaining 2019/20 hockey season.”
Wranglers President Tom Bachynski says he was part of the decision-making team to suspend operations the day before, noting it was the right thing to do.
“It left a glimmer of hope that there was going to be some hockey still and then this morning it was announced that hockey is over for the season. It’s sad. It’s unfortunate because these players have invested 50-60 games and countless hours to vie for a championship that’s just simply not going to happen this year. It’s tough on them. It’s tough for our fans that saw a team blossoming at the end of the season and really excelling for the playoffs and now it’s over. It’s over without much notice. It’s sad but it’s the right thing to do.”
Bachynski says it’s definitely going to have a financial impact pointing to even just cancelling the next two home games.
“You get a couple of home games that were gonna be good battles with Revelstoke and we certainly feel we would have topped well over 500 fans per game. So yeah, it’s going to affect us financially because we rely on the playoffs to bolster our bank accounts for the summer to survive.”
They need to breathe in and out a little bit as an organization and come together to figure out what the financial strategy will be to survive this and move forward, he says. The Cyclone Taylor Cup will also be a big hit for the community with restaurants and hotels not being full, according to Bachynski.
“It’s tough but you know what, at the end of the day, we have to do what’s right to slow the spread of this virus and hockey is probably one of the bigger community gathering spots.”
They’ve already asked if they can host the cup next year and will find out in the coming weeks and months if they’ll get that opportunity, he says.
The players and coaches are meeting this afternoon where they’ll be encouraged to have exit interviews and to leave 100 Mile on the weekend.
“We want them home.”
He thanks the community for the past year adding that it’s been great to have everyone come out and support the Wranglers.
“I certainly hope this doesn’t curb their enthusiasm for this local hockey club because we will be back next year and will be taking a hard run for the Cyclone Taylor Cup again next year.”