After a successful 2017-2018 season, the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) is on track to return to the ice in the fall, but is still waiting for committment from one of last year’s teams.
CIHL president Ron German said representatives from all five teams — including Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Quesnel and Williams Lake — were all present at the league’s annual AGM on May 12, where prospects for each team was discussed.
While the Prince Rupert Rampage, Terrace River Kings, Quesnel Kangaroos and Williams Lake Stampeders have all confirmed they will be returning next season, German said the Kitimat Ice Demons are still looking for players to complete its roster.
Despite the delay, German is hopeful there are enough players in the league available who would be available to play for the Ice Demons and keep the league’s team total at five.
“There are players from other teams like Terrace who may have more opportunity to play for other teams, so we’re hoping they figure it out,” he said.
If Kitimat doesn not return it will be the second team the CIHL has lost in the past two seasons. The Smithers Steelheads withdrew from the league last year, saying they simply did not have enough players.
German said if Kitimat is unable to put together a team, the league will continue in 2018-2019 with four teams. However, he repeated he is hopeful the Ice Demons will form a team, and the overall prospects of the league are positive.
“Other than that, the numbers look pretty good,” he said. “I think financially everyone is looking pretty good,and I’m pretty positive and have a good feeling about the upcoming season.”
Successful Rampage season
In Prince Rupert, German said attendance for the Rampage improved gradually after a slow start, which he attributed to the strong form the team found toward the end of the season. The Rampage finished with a 9-3-1-3 record, good for 22 points and a tie for first place with the eventual champion — the Terrace River Kings.
“As you start winning games, the attendance improves and as attendance went up, the players gained more confidence,” he said. “Winning helps everyone.”
Overall, German said he is excited both about the league and every team’s ability to put a good product on the ice.
“It’ll be good, entertaining hockey as usual and everyone feels good about their team,” he said.