Kamloops Storm general manager Barry Dewar: “Quesnel is the right place for a team.” Tracey Roberts photos

Quesnel’s KIJHL expansion bid still in play

Local organizers plan to re-apply to the hockey league early next year

Quesnel’s hope for a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) team has not been forgotten.

The KIJHL voted against league expansion in January, but bid organizer Matt Kolle said he and other community members are still making plans to one day have a team.

“With the application process we drummed up interest and our friends in Kamloops offered their support. I’m now involved with the Kamloops Storm [as assistant general manager]. It’s a learning process for me, so I can learn how the teams function within the league.”

KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen commented: “The membership turned down extending the footprint of the KIJHL and they haven’t voted on it or discussed it since. We have a meeting in January and they’ll probably bring it up at that time.”

Kolle said he will be present at the January meeting.

“I agree with the president that it will come up again. What form it comes up in is yet to be determined. It’ll be addressed by parties in Quesnel and Williams Lake as it becomes clear as to what the KIJHL would like to see or expects to see as far as an application goes. But an application will be made again.”

Williams Lake’s bid for a team was also turned down, and Kolle said representatives there are keen to try again.

“Williams Lake is aware of our involvement in Kamloops and the process we’re going through to develop research on how things could work and how it would look if there were teams in Williams Lake and Quesnel.

“As the date gets closer, our conversations will get more in depth and will lead into a planning process to have some form of application in progress for January.”

In the meantime, the Kamloops Storm, a KIJHL team, will play six games in Quesnel this season as a show of support for the city’s bid.

In June Kamloops Storm general manager Barry Dewar commented: “By bringing the Storm up to Quesnel, we want to show the hockey world that Quesnel is the right place for a team.”