A Quesnel businessman has purchased the Kamloops Storm.
Tracy Mero and Parallel Storm Hockey Group have been in talks to buy the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team for two years now, and the sale was completed July 2.
Locals wary of getting their hopes up of a junior hockey team coming to town can continue to be so.
Matt Kolle, who serves as governor, business manager, hockey operations manager and general manager of the club, says the club will remain in Kamloops for the time being.
“Right now, we are partners within a 20-team group, so the way we function has to be guided by working together as a group of 20 organizations.”
The board of directors who run the league blocked its expansion into Quesnel in the past. While 100 Mile House have the Wranglers, the league has not wanted to commit to travelling further into the northern interior.
Kolle is willing to give a glimmer of hope to Quesnel, however.
“If any team, whether it be us or anybody else, is struggling with where they are at this time, then you know what? You need to look at moving teams, or changing situations.”
He mentions that the times are changing within the league from when expansion was previously nixed.
“There’s a lot of new turnover in the league, and we’ve now brought on a commissioner, so there’s a lot of progress happening right now. Things are very different than they were a couple years ago when we actually looked for expansion to Quesnel.
“If anything’s reasonable, these people are going to go for it because they’re looking out for the best interests of the league.”
Kolle goes on to point out Cranbrook might also be looking for a team, so if they are willing to offer them one, they might just open it up to some communities in the Cariboo too.
“The league wasn’t willing to expand a couple years ago, but now, it’s pretty tough to hold Cranbrook out too. You know that you have my vote.
“I’m voting yes for Cranbrook, I’m voting yes for Williams Lake and I’m voting yes for Quesnel.
“I’m backing all those communities to have hockey teams. Whether it be expansion or whether it be a move of some sort, we’re going to support it.”
This season won’t see any Storm games being played in Quesnel, however.
“We were very interested in it, and I did have some dates put aside, but we didn’t want to create waves by giving an impression that something was happening,” said Kolle.
“First and foremost, we’d like to secure our hockey club and become one with the [other owners] and then work with people from there and see where the next step lies.”