Cold rinks, hot shots & heavy hits

Junior hockey season has returned and Townsman sports editor Taylor Rocca couldn't be more excited

Taylor Rocca

Taylor Rocca

Taylor Rocca

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Thursday and my freshly minted column.

Today, I’d like to use this as a way of introduction. For those who don’t already know me, my name is Taylor Rocca and I’ll be doing my best to fill the large sports desk shoes left by Mr. Trevor Crawley, who believes he has jumped the fence for greener pastures at the news desk.

I know I’m new to these parts, but hopefully over the next year, we can share a few good stories and opinions. Granted you can’t share your opinions or stories right here, I would encourage you to do so by emailing me (sports@dailytownsman.com) or getting in my grill on Twitter (@taylorrocca). I love to hear from readers and yes, I love my social media.

Some quick-hit notes on who I am and where I’m from: I spent the past year in Kindersley, Sask. as the sports reporter for Jamac Publishing Ltd., where I covered the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. I’m also a few years removed from an editorial internship with The Hockey News and even a few more years removed from a summer work-experience position with the Western Hockey League head office. The common thread here: I love hockey.

Enough about me and on to more pressing issues.

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of my favourite time of the year. Yes, this ranks higher on my list than the NHL trade deadline, free agent frenzy and even my birthday. To be honest, I sometimes have to be reminded it’s my birthday.

Good friends, junior hockey season is upon us.

We’re fortunate enough to have the WHL’s Kootenay Ice and major junior hockey right in our backyard. Many towns and cities around the country would love to have a major junior hockey organization under their roof, but aren’t as lucky as we in the East Kootenays.

In Kimberley, we’re privileged to be home to the KIJHL — arguably the greatest Junior ‘B’ hockey league in the country — and the Dynamiters.

I would argue hockey at its purest form can be found in the rink at 6 a.m. when the littlest tykes chase the biscuit gleefully and parents sit frozen, half asleep and coffee in hand. Still, junior hockey is perhaps the purest form of the competitive game.

Yes, the professional game is a spectacle to be seen and the Olympics represent the world’s elite competing for their respective countries. But, in my humble opinion, nothing quite compares to the beauty of the game at this level as young men fight, day in and day out, for a shot at a career, a livelihood.

Some will move on to decade-long pro careers, while others will play out their time in junior before seeking out another path.

One thing will remain common between these very separate outcomes: for five years, these players give their heart, soul, sweat and blood to a community, both on the ice and off it.

Whether it’s the Kimberley Civic Centre or Western Financial Place, I hope to see you soon. Please feel free to stop me and say, “hello.”

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s to cold rinks, hot shots and heavy hits.

Hockey season has returned.