Smithers Steelheads head coach Tom DeVries said they have no plans to operate next season.
The team was aware that a meeting concerning next year’s league plans would be taking place.
Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) president Ron German said representatives from all five teams — including Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Quesnel and Williams Lake — were all present at the league’s annual AGM on May 12, where prospects for each team was discussed.
While the Prince Rupert Rampage, Terrace River Kings, Quesnel Kangaroos and Williams Lake Stampeders have all confirmed they will be returning next season, German said the Kitimat Ice Demons are still looking for players to complete its roster.
Despite the delay, German is hopeful there are enough players in the league available who would be available to play for the Ice Demons and keep the league’s team total at five. He said if Kitimat is unable to put together a team, the league will continue in 2018-2019 with four teams.
“We did not attend the meeting. We did not have plans to attend the meeting about next year’s teams,”said DeVries.
“I have not heard anything from the players saying that they want to play. Some guys do want to play but you need more than a couple. Only 10 guys is not going to cut it.”
During the last season that the Steelheads played (2016-17), there were weekend trips where there were barely enough players travelling to put a team on the ice.
The commitment for players to attend practices and home games is difficult enough, but road games where the team has a long ride and usually plays a pair of games makes it even more challenging. Many players also have jobs in which they are away a good deal of the time.
“So far as I know, we will not play for another year. I don’t know how the league is going. Maybe it will hang in there until we show up,” said DeVries.
When asked about possible reasons why the interest in playing for the team has dwindled, he indicated that the amount of travel and time involved made it a difficult choice for many of the players.
“It’s too bad,” he said.
General manager Daryl DeVries said that he felt that there was not enough interest in the community for having the team.
“There are no rumblings from the community about having the team,” he said.