Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The challenges of hockey in the CIHL

The history of hockey across Northern BC is one of lengthy road trips, creative balance of rosters (and balance sheets) and sadly disappearing franchises from time to time.

All part of the challenge of running a hockey league over such a wide range of geography as that of the stretch from Williams Lake to the North Coast.

This year has already seen one team shut down on the cusp of the season, with the Hazelton Wolverines checking the financials and discovering that maybe this wasn't the best of years to launch a CIHL comeback.

The withdrawal of the Wolverines posed a scheduling setback for the CIHL officials, as they had been counting on Hazelton to fill in for the Omenica Ice, that franchise called it quits at the end of the 2012-13 season.

The pencil's were sharpened and a new schedule came together just before the team's headed for training camp in late August.

Still, the challenges of the CIHL continue on and as Anna Killen of the Terrace Standard outlines, even as long standing a franchise as the Terrace River Kings is finding the prospects daunting, with the team making a call for support to the larger Terrace community.

Ms. Killen's article provides some interesting background into just what it takes to keep a CIHL team operating, with rising costs and at times, decreasing attendance serving to provide for almost a perfect storm of concern.

You can review the article here and while no one is suggesting that the end of the River King era is nigh, clearly there is a need for more support both financial and in the stands for the CIHL to thrive in that community.

Since their arrival in the CIHL, the Rampage have been strongly supported, seemingly one of the high points for the CIHL. This despite the fact that for the most part, the financial climate in the city over the last few years has been a challenging one.

That's a situation that seems to have stalked a few of the CIHL member cities, with some not faring as well as Rupert in holding it all together. However, the trend of troubled franchises isn't something that hockey fans of the Northwest will wish to see continue.

The concerns in Terrace should provide a warning shot that without strong community support, the CIHL may find itself facing issues that could put the entire circuit into peril.

Update: CFTK featured this report on the plight of the River Kings

You can check our archives for more items on the Prince Rupert Rampage and the CIHL.

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