Quesnel could soon be entering the ranks of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) if all things come to fruition. Quesnel and Williams Lake recently submitted expansion applications and had a meeting with the expansion committee in the hope of bringing Junior A hockey to both cities for the 2017-18 season.
“We met with the expansion committee in 100 Mile House which allowed ourselves to present our case to why we want teams in our communities and we were able to answer questions and concerns they had, so it was a really good information sharing session,” Vice President Matt Kolle of the Parallel Hockey Group (Quesnel owenership) said.
He adds the next step is now in the hands of the owners of the KIJHL.
“From the meeting they will generate a recommendation from the committee which will be sent to the 20 different owners in the league,” Kolle said.
“I believe they have 14 days to consider the recommendation and then they will do an e-mail vote, which would need a majority vote to be accepted.”
Kolle said the committee recognized both bids were excellent.
“They also said it’s easy to see that our communities are capable of sustaining a Junior B team in the KIJHL, which is a significantly less cost than the British Columbia Junior Hockey League,” Kolle said.
“The level of hockey would be a level that would allow many of the local players to be able to make the team. One element when you start thinking of being a successful junior hockey team is the local talent on the team. That’s why we have chosen this level because we feel the local talent could potentially make up a large portion of the team, which will obviously drive our fan base.”
Kolle says the team would be a big bonus for the community.
“The team really gives your community an identity and so we really tried to impress that on the committee,” Kolle said.
“The history of Quesnel is largely hockey so we really tried to impress on these guys that this is something our communities need.”
He says if they are successful in acquiring the franchise they would get to work immediately.
“The goal would be to put together an advisory board to help the team with direction and function,” Kolle said.
“As far as team function we would have that advisory board in place with key community members that have been active in the hockey world before to help provide direction.”
With the opening of the West Fraser Centre and the possibility of acquiring a team he says it would be a perfect match.
“The reason we want the team for this year is because we would really like the unveiling of the new team and the opening of the arena to coincide,” Kolle said.
“I think it puts a lot of positive energy into the community and adds a lot of excitement.”
He says there is no doubt the community would support the team. “Our approach to this team would be all community,” Kolle said.
“I think they will embrace it because we will have a lot of local flavour on the team and that makes it very easy for the community to get behind it. Any time a town can get behind something to show their civic pride they will do it. Knowing the rich history of hockey in Quesnel everybody here is eager to impress upon the rest of the province that we are the best hockey town.”
The next step is waiting to see if the owners of the KIJHL accept the bids which will be announced at the end of the month.