CIHL 2016 playoff MVP Brendan DeVries (left) with then-captain Ian Smith holding the championship trophy, and last season’s captain Randall Groot. Xuyun Zeng photo

CIHL prepares to shrink next season

If the Smithers Steelheads are on the bench next year, only five hockey teams are left in the CIHL.

The Central Interior Hockey League is taking a hit, with the Smithers Steelheads likely on the bench next season.

The Smithers Steelheads told The Interior News that they’ve been playing short for a few years, and this year they simply haven’t gotten enough players.

“I’ve spoken to people but they just can’t commit to playing for the team,” said Steelhead coach Tom DeVries.

“They have too much other stuff going on and we just cannot get a committed 15 guys. It’s been the last two years like that and we just can’t do it anymore.”

It drops the league to five teams and a schedule of likely 16 games, but the good news is that the Terrace River Kings still plan to ice a team.

“Oh yeah, we’ll have a team,” said last year’s River Kings coach Kevin Legros. “We’ve got lots of bodies, so we’re okay.”

The likely drop out would mean one less team in the CIHL, and Legros says it’s a real downer for the River Kings and the other teams in the league.

“It sucks because [the Steelheads] have always been good competition for us,” said Legros. “We’ve had a pretty good rivalry against them lately, and it brings our level of play up when we play good teams like them.”

The change will mean a 16 game schedule for next winter.

Five teams remain in the league for the 2017-2018 season — the Terrace River Kings, Kitimat Ice Demons, Prince Rupert Rampage, Williams Lake Stampeders, and Quesnel Kangaroos.

Despite losing every game last season, the Ice Demons have the players they need for a Kitimat team.

There’s enough players for a full team, a new coach at the helm (Ryan Baker), and seven new players even expressed interest at a recent recruitment drive in Kitimat, said their recruiting committee member Josh Slanina.

CIHL president Ron German said it sure is a shame losing Smithers and it would be a “juggling act” to maintain the league’s 16 game schedule.

“It’s a pretty big shame for a big hockey town like Smithers to not be involved,” German said. “It’s kind of big for our league, but we must go on.”

While there were other communities talking about forming a team, nothing has come together in time for next season.

It was only three years ago that the Houston Luckies dropped out of the CIHL, citing player shortage just like the Steelheads.

Other teams that have previously been in the CIHL include Hazelton Wolverines, Lac La Hache Tomahawks, and the Vanderhoof Omineca Ice.

Just Posted

Police seek victims of alleged Prince George pedophile

Kevin James Belcourt has been charged with several sex crimes involving a girl under 16

Telkwa lifts boil water advisory

The Village of Telkwa has just announced that as of 3:00 p.m.… Continue reading

Chevron’s move to exit Kitimat LNG project a dash of ‘cold water’ for gas industry

Canada Energy Regulator approved a 40-year licence to export natural gas for Kitimat LNG

New report into sawmill explosions released

The report recommends streamlining investigative process

No parole for 12 years for Burns Lake man convicted of second degree murder

Judge said he did not believe Albert Giesbrecht’s claim his gun discharged accidentally

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Most Read