Last April the Revelstoke Grizzlies were celebrating their provincial championship title, the first since 2010.
This year, they were headed in the same direction, with 39 wins and six loses in the regular season, when the playoffs were cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vying for the division title, with one win a peice against the 100 Mile House Wranglers, the Grizzlies played their last game on March 10. The season was officially cancelled on March 13.
General Manager of the team, Ryan Parent, said the lower than usual attendance at the March 10 game, which started late and saw seven periods of play, as well as the cancellation of the remainder of the season, cost the organization around 25 per cent of their budget.
Had the season continued and the Grizzlies progressed to the league championship, there would have been at least 11 more games, with half of those occurring in Revelstoke.
Parent said they also normally would have hosted a spring training camp, by now, which would have brought money in.
As the sports organization relies on sponsorship and ticket sales, Parent said they have laid off all of their staff, including him, for the time being.
“Our hearts go out to the local business community,” Parent said. “We will re-evaluate when things start to open again.”
Parent said there is talk of BC Hockey League teams going dark for the season, but that would be a worst case scenario for the KIJHL and Revelstoke.
“A year without hockey would be a long winter in Revelstoke,” Parent said.
Adding that, the community will find a way to move forward.
In the meantime head coach Lukas Lomicky, has accepted a job as an associate coach for the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings.
“Part of our job is to move players and coaches onto higher levels and other opportunities,” Parent said.
Adding that he thought Lomicky, who was in Revelstoke for three years as the assistant and then head coach, will be a fantastic fit for the Prince George team.
Also moving up to Junior A is Rider McCallum, who joined the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. During his time playing defence for the Grizzlies, he put up 18 goals and 56 points in 112 career regular season and playoff games.
“”I’ve learned a lot in these past two seasons and I’ve been surrounded by countless amazing people,” said McCallum, in a KIJHL news reelase. “Without the support from them, I wouldn’t have this opportunity. My two years in the KIJHL were two of the best in my life and I believe they’ve prepared me for what lies ahead.”
Also heading to the AJHL is Brandon Kasdorf, who has signed on with the Drayton Valley Thunder.
“The Revelstoke Grizzlies organization has a great development program,” said Kasdorf, in the news release. “It has taken my game to another level of play. It has made me faster, stronger, and more physical of a player.
Kasdorf netted 20 goals and had 57 points in 48 games as a rookie, and added two assists in six playoff games.
Finn Withey, who joined the team halfway through the season and only played 25 regular season games, scored 14 goals and earned 37 points and another three points during five playoff games.
He earned a spot with the University of Victoria Vikes in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.
“It definitely means a lot to me to be able to join UVic’s program,” said Withey, in a news release. “I’m excited about getting a chance to combine school and hockey, which is something I’ve worked towards through my junior career.”
Jake Huculak, Bo Cornell and Nathan Cohen-Wallis will be heading south to play with the University of Jamestown Jimmies in the American Hockey League.
Huculak is a Jasper, Alta., native who had 90 points in 130 career regular season games. He had five points in six playoff games.
“Once Jamestown announced the first group of guys they committed, Nathan and I noticed that a few of the best players in the KIJHL were among the group of new potential teammates,” Huculak said, in a news release. “We thought Andrew Clarke out of Creston was the hardest defenseman to play against in the Kootenay Conference for the past two seasons and both (Greg) Susinski and (Jordon) Kromm from Fernie were a handful to play against as well. When we saw the opportunity to play with those guys instead of against them, the decision to commit to Jamestown became an easy one.”
Cohen-Wallis, from Canmore, Alta., split this past season between Grand Forks and the Grizzlies. In 27 games with the Grizzlies, he had nine goals and 17 points. In 14 games with Grand Forks, he put up 11 goals and 24 points.
Cornell committed to the Jimmies while playing with the Castlegar Rebels early in the season prior to a trade to Revelstoke. The Legal, Alta product played 104 games with the Rebels and was named the team’s captain prior to the 2019/20 campaign.