The Central Interior Hockey League will not be losing a team this year.
One year after the Smithers Steelheads withdrew from the league, the Kitimat Ice Demons confirmed they will have a team on the ice for the 2018-2019 season.
This ensures that the CIHL will have five teams for a second year in a row.
“It’s good not to lose another team,” said Ron German, president of the CIHL. “For the league we’re very happy that they’re staying around.”
In May after the league’s AGM, German confirmed that four teams — Prince Rupert, Terrace, Williams Lake and Quesnel — had committed to playing in the upcoming season. At the time, Kitimat was unsure whether or not they would have enough players for a team.
“A lot of the team’s senior players stepped down, so it was a struggle to find younger players to play and to find an executive for the team,” said Dayna Baker, former team manager for the Ice Demons.
Baker said the team is more confident that they will have enough bodies to make it through the season, and already confirmed their participation with the league earlier this month. The Ice Demons will be drawing both on players returning to Kitimat from other cities, and players from other teams in the league that have folded.
She added that anticipation is high and the community is excited that the team is returning.
“A lot of people were disappointed that it could potentially get to that point where we wouldn’t play,” she said. “We saw that from other teams, once you lose a team it’s hard to bring the team back, so we really wanted to push to try and get it back for another year.”
German agreed that losing another team would not have been good, even though the league would have continued with four teams.
“As long as they can hang on, the league will do our best to support them,” he said.
German said the 2018-2019 season schedule is almost complete pending some final revisions.