On Saturday, Feb. 6 the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced the cancellation of the remainder of their season, after provincial health orders restricting recreation were extended on Friday until at least the end of the month.
After a season marred by stops and starts imposed by numerous restrictions announced throughout its duration, Kimberley Dynamiters head coach, general manager Derek Stuart said that he saw this latest announcement coming, for a long time.
“I don’t really think my feelings on this matter, to be honest,” he said. “I just want to focus on the players and let anyone know who’s going to read this article how good of a job they did maintaining all the restrictions that they were under. I don’t think that many people really know how many there actually was.”
Stuart said that although his team was pinned down extremely tight by the restrictions, they were always willing to do whatever it took to play.
“I just wanted to make sure that got out there that I’m very proud of our team and our players and how they handled this whole season,” Stuart said.
The team had their last practice on Saturday and after it was done, they marched out into the parking lot of the Civic Centre, where a group of people came to show their support. Staying in their cars to respect social distancing protocols, the supporters honked their horns and cheered for the team, who didn’t get a chance to play to their fans once this year.
“That was fantastic,” Stuart said. “The guys truly appreciated that. That just shows the community support we have, there was people who were willing to give up part of their day and a lot of them weren’t even related to any of the players or anything, they just decided to come out and share their appreciation. We really do thank them for that and the players really liked that send off.”
Stuart said that what happens now, for him at least, is he will try to help the guys who want to get into Junior A or college. He will work to get them in contact with as many teams and schools as he can and try to get their foot in the door and get that communication going as soon as possible.
“That way they’ll have options to at least try out some where next year at a higher level and if those options don’t work out, the eligible players are all more than welcome to come back here,” Stuart explained. “But like I said, I had a fantastic team this year and I want all the guys back that don’t make Junior A.”