If all stays on track, fans will be cheering on their local senior hockey teams this fall.
The Central Interior Hockey League’s president, Ron German, said everyone was itching to get back to playing hockey, as the league plans its return in the fall of 2021.
“I think by the time people are allowed in these rinks, people are going to be excited for it, and there will be good fan support,” he said. “Who’s not going to be hungry to watch a hockey game?”
In the 2019/2020 season, the league had seven teams: Terrace, Williams Lake, Prince Rupert, Hazelton, Quesnel, Kitimat and Smithers. The following season was completely cancelled due to COVID-19.
German said teams will need to confirm their status by July 1 for the 2021/2022 season and is hoping an eighth team from Vanderhoof will join.
“I imagine they’re scrambling around right now because times are going to be tough with getting commitments from sponsorship and players,” he said. “Once we have an idea of who’s in, we’ll start hashing out some schedules.”
In Williams Lake, Stampeders general manager Dylan Richardson said everyone is chomping at the bit to get back on the ice.
He said the team is committed to playing in the 2021/22 season.
“It was unfortunate, the way the season ended (in 2019/20),” Richardson said. “The playoffs just kind of ended, and then the (Quesnel) Kangaroos weren’t able to host the Coy Cup (senior men’s AA provincial championship).”
The Stampeders hosted their annual general meeting on Wednesday, June 16, to iron out some of the wrinkles, including coaching positions, as they prepare for the CIHL’s return.
He also said he’s looking forward to the addition of the league’s eighth team, the Nechako North Stars from Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.
The Quesnel Kangaroos, meanwhile, will head into the 2021/22 season as back-to-back season champions, and Richardson said they will most definitely be the team to beat.
“They (Quesnel) had a good team, and we’re hoping to be at that point so we can compete for a Coy Cup this coming season, too,” Richardson said.
Each team in the league usually plays a 16-game schedule, which German said could be tight if they start during the planned opening week of late October.
The Stampeders, meanwhile, are looking to the links this summer to get the band back together.
The team will be hosting a one-day tournament at the Williams Lake Golf and Tennis Club on Saturday, July 24 and are inviting the public to participate.
The tournament will feature two divisions — a fun and a competitive division.
The cost will be $80 per player or $320 per team of four and includes lunch and dinner.
The team is currently looking for sponsors for the tournament, and more details will be available on the Williams Lake Stampeders Facebook page, or stop by or call the WLGTC clubhouse at 250-392-6026.