Opinion

Doghouse not for Bulldogs

Do the Alberni Valley Bulldogs deserve the city’s help in straightening out their finances?

The Bulldogs, Port Alberni’s Jr. A hockey franchise that plays in the B.C. Hockey League, is in trouble. Despite the Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society taking over ownership of the team two seasons ago, the entity is not thriving. They are a year behind in paying ice rental fees to the city, and have asked for a 50 per cent break for the next two years to help catch up.

The team has struggled off-ice with the community non-profit ownership model, and present business manager Lucas Banton admits that openly.

It is worrisome that the team has gone through several business managers in the past two years, but it seems like the PAJHS is finally on track. Their plea for help from city council is testament to that.

The team struggled at times on-ice last season, before pulling out a nailbiting—if you’re a hockey fan—late-season run for a playoff spot that fell a few points short. The Bulldogs have had few shots at a league championship in its 12-year history in Port Alberni; but this is the BCHL, not the Dub (Western Hockey League) or the NHL.

One of the goals of the BCHL is to groom players for collegiate hockey, and the Bulldogs excel at that. As educational advisor Tom McEvay says, the team also teaches players to be community-minded. Players are involved in schools, with the regional district’s recycling plan, participate in community parades and make regular appearances at public events.

The Bulldogs have always been known as the community’s hockey team, even before the junior hockey society bought them. They have the second highest attendance on Vancouver Island and even mainland teams are envious of the number of loyal fans packing the ‘Dawg Pound’.

The players have given a lot to this community, both on and off the ice.

Do the Bulldogs deserve help? We say yes.

— Alberni Valley News

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