The worst-kept secret in the KIJHL is finally official: the Chase Chiefs will play in Kelowna next season, based out of the Rutland Arena (pictured).
Interesting to note one of the factors according to the BC Hockey release, which can be seen here, is that the move was "necessitated by a residential move by team ownership." A shame really, to the loyal fans in Chase who supported the team for three seasons but confirmation as well that junior hockey is indeed a business.
Whether or not Chase gets an expansion team for the 2011-12 season remains to be seen. Time will tell as well just how much of an impact a Kelowna-based team will have on recruiting by teams such as the Rebels, who had a slough of Kelowna products on their 2009-10 roster including team MVP and leading scorer Ryan Aynsley. We'll see as well if the Chiefs name makes the trip to Kelowna, although I've read rumours a name change is imminent.
A couple other tidbits..
Stay tuned to Mountain FM early next week to hear from new Rebels coach Steve Junker. I'm told he's arriving in town from Germany over the weekend. My colleague Shawn Mullin will likely have him as a guest on his show Overtime next week, and check out his Twitter for some Smoke Eaters news that I'm sure he'll expand on over the next few days as well.
The Nelson Leafs are also close to hiring a new coach, though it won't happen by the Monday deadline they originally set. They've narrowed their field to 4 candidate, all with Jr. B or Jr. A experience, and will conduct interviews next week. Contrary to earlier beliefs, current assistant coach Frank Maida will not be the new bench boss as he has withdrawn his name from consideration.