For Peter Grimm, there was no doubt about going to Salmon Arm to play hockey when he entered Midget.
“I knew I wanted to keep playing hockey and eventually move on to Junior,” he said. “The only option was going to Salmon Arm.”
Grimm is one of several Revelstoke minor hockey players who have had to try out for Salmon Arm teams because of the lack of a midget team in town. Others include former members of the Revelstoke Grizzlies, Josh Pilon and Nii Noi Tetteh, and current player Ullar Wiatzka — all of whom played for the Thompson Blazers of the BC Major Midget Hockey League.
There’s at five other Revelstoke youth in a similar boat, playing various levels of hockey for teams in Salmon Arm.
For Grimm and his parents, it meant traveling to Salmon Arm twice a week for practices, and then hitting the road every weekend to go to games and tournaments. He played two years in Salmon Arm, starting when he was 15, but this year, he made the jump to Major Midget. He is living with a family in Kamloops while he plays for the Thompson Blazers.
“For us, to make the decision to commit to play in Salmon Arm was a commitment to Peter,” said his father Kevin Grimm. “He was working out in the gym and on the ice, and doing well in school.”
Kevin said there was never a doubt for him and his wife Stacey to reciprocate Peter’s commitment by driving him to Salmon Arm for games and practices, and putting in volunteer hours with the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association.
“Because he was so committed to it, how do we say no to him,” he said. “You can’t tell him you’re not going to do it. We just had to find a way to make it work.”
It wasn’t an easy road. This year, Peter failed to make Junior B and was cut from the Blazers at training camp. His hard work paid off when he was brought re-called partway through the season.
It’s not just midget players that have to play away from Revelstoke this year. Due to a quirk in age groups, there’s no local peewee team this year. This has meant a few players are playing up in Bantam, while others are playing down in Atom.
Carlos Serrouya, 12, found himself without a team, but when he made the Salmon Arm peewee tier two squad, his parents agreed to let him play there.
“The unusual thing is he’s young to have to do this — younger than other Revelstoke players,” said his father Rob.
He said they talked about the move at length. “He was really keen on hockey,” said Serrouya. “When he made their Tier 2 team we thought it would be a unique opportunity to try out that kind of hockey.”
The Serrouya’s made the drive to Salmon Arm twice a week for practices in the fall. For the practice Thursday at 6:30 a.m., that meant heading down the highway the previous night and staying with a local family. For the winter, they have billeted Carlos with one of his teammates.
“He was super keen at first and now he’s still super keen on hockey, but he now admits he misses his parents,” said Rob. “And maybe even his sister.”
Peter Grimm is in his third year of midget. He hopes to land on a junior team next year and eventually play hockey while in college of university.
“I know at some point it’s going to have to come to an end,” he said. “I definitely would miss it though.”