Thursday, February 19, 2009

KIJHL Expands to Armstrong

(Lovely Armstrong)

After considerable debate the Junior B KIJHL has approved an expansion franchise for Armstrong that will start play in the 2009-2010 season. BC Hockey still has to give it the go ahead, but this is pretty much official. The final vote was 13-3 in favour of the expansion. Nelson, Grand Forks and Spokane were the only teams to oppose adding the new North Okanagan Knights.

The league is also considering an application from Osoyoos to rejoin the league in 2010-2011. That would bring the number of Okaganan teams up to 8. The long term plan appears to be setting up the league in a similar way to the BCHL with two conferences. In this case instead of the Coast and the Interior, we'd have the Okaganan and the Kootenays.

When you look at the size of some other Junior B leagues like the VIJHL, I think it's fair to speculate about the idea that the Okanagan teams might someday split from the KIJHL to form their own league. I think this move, the Osoyoos team and limiting travel between the two regions with a new schedule might be the league's way to make those teams happy enough to stay put. That's just speculation on my part.

The KIJHL is a great league and I hope another team or two doesn't dilute the talent pool too much that it really hurts the product. Terry Jones of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks (father of Vernon's Jones Twins) mentioned to me that he'd like to see the BCHL move to 21 man rosters so that those extra guys get to play instead of sitting in the stands. What do you think? It would limit billet costs a little more, but I think it's good to have those extra guys for in house competition and when injuries come up. Look at Trail the last two seasons! Those extra guys get plenty of time.

Here are a couple of interviews on the expansion:

KIJHL President Bill Ohlhausen

Click here to download

Beaver Valley Nitehawks President Terry Jones

Click here to download

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinions and here is mine: why is there any need for more Jr. B franchises?

I mean seriously, what type of development is coming out of this league? It has progressively gotten worse over the last 20 years with the last couple being the worst. Jr. B hockey has practically disappeared in the lower mainland due to Major Midget hockey. MM hockey has proven success in developing players for the WHL and Jr. A (eventually college) hockey.

The local MM team is weak because the KI sucks up the top 16/17 year olds. Each KI team consists of the following prayers: a couple top young guns, a couple hard working, talented players who were unable to crack a Jr. A line up, and then there's the rest.

There must be a better way to develop our local players in preparation for the Smoke Eaters or WHL. In a perfect world, Trail would develop a hockey academy with the 'farm team' playing either as a MM team or independently.