Changes are on the horizon for the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL), as one team collapses and two others look to join the league.
The Burns Lake Braves team announced it will not be returning for the 2011/2012 hockey season, and teams from Quesnel and Lac La Hache have both applied for entrance into the senior men’s league.
In an interview with the Lakes District News, Braves goalie Wes Hart cited a lack of players as the reason why the team will not be hitting the ice this season.
“We lost a dozen players for this coming season, they have families, and some have moved away, some have their kids in minor hockey, it’s a huge commitment [playing on the team],” Hart said.
President of the CIHL, Terry Marleau, said the Braves will be sorely missed and the loss of the team is an unfortunate sign of the economic times and the changing populations in small rural communities.
“It is becoming more difficult to draw on a smaller populations in places like Burns Lake to compete in a league such as ours, let alone minor hockey or other youth sports,” he said.
This will not be the first time the Braves have folded. In 2004, the team took a four-year hiatus for the same reasons.
However, this loss to the league may soon be remedied as the CIHL considers the applications of the Quesnel Kangaroos and the Lac La Hache Tomahawks.
Marleau said the decision of whether or not to accept these teams will come after the CIHL’s annual general meeting May 28.
“We will go through a rigorous set of criteria to evaluate their merit followed by a vote by our member associations,” Marleau said.
“Although we will miss the Burns Lake Braves, the future is still very bright for our exciting Central Interior Hockey League,” he added.