Friday, May 28, 2010

DeLong News + KIJHL Bits & Bites

Castlegar native Anthony DeLong spoke with my colleague Shawn Mullin yesterday. The former Rebel became a BCHL free agent following the recent suspension of the Williams Lake Timberwolves, and is now in the course of finding a place to play next season. Why not Castlegar, you wonder? DeLong confirmed he has spoken with Rebels coach Steve Junker.

"He's contacted me, and told me I'd be a force, but I want to play Junior A. I'm trying to contact teams and just keep my options open. Hopefully I can play in the league [BCHL] next year."

Hard to blame DeLong for wanting to play at a higher level of hockey, whether it be the BCHL, AJHL or elsewhere. Even though a return to Castlegar would be something for Rebel fans to enjoy, I'm sure everyone hopes he can find a set of Junior A silks somewhere after a strong finish to last season as a Timberwolf.

Bits & Bites: Kimberley is looking for a new head coach. Kevin MacKay was recently named an assistant with the BCHL's Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Dynamiters gig is the 5th head coaching position to open up in the KIJHL so far this off-season. Revelstoke is losing forward Riley Spraggs. According to a Vernon newspaper, Spraggs (25-28-53 in 47 GP with the Grizzlies last season) will play with the BCHL's Prince George Spruce Kings. Kamloops Storm owner Barry Dewar says his team will not be moving to Chase, although he says they could potentially play some home games there if the new group looking to bring a team to Chase for the 2011-12 season is granted an expansion franchise. Read more here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rebels Announce Camp Dates

Main camp for the 2010-11 KIJHL season is set for August 27 to 30 at the Complex. It's open for any players born in 1995 or earlier, and will include 6 ice-times and an all-star game. Cost is $125 per player.

For more information and details on registering, visit

Stay tuned for more news (hopefully) on a former Rebel as well as bits and bites from around the league later this week.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Former Rebel Taken in USHL Draft

Castlegar native Ryan Renz was selected 214th overall today by the Chicago Steel in the USHL Draft. The 16 year-old defenseman spent the first half of this past season with the Rebels (8-18-26 and 133 PIM in 29 games), but then joined the BCHL's Alberni Valley Bulldogs just after Christmas, where he posted 4 points in 12 games, but then an additional 8 during the 'Dogs playoff run.

Renz now has another option in addition to staying with the Bulldogs or testing the WHL waters, as I'm told being picked by a USHL team doesn't mean a player is committed to going south. Congrats to Ryan and his family and good luck to him wherever he laces his skates this coming fall.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rebels Post Loss, Remain Optimistic

The Castlegar Rebels took a look back, and then a long look forward at their AGM Monday night. The team announced they lost about $11,000 last season, which can be traced to two issues: the motor replacement on the team bus and the loss of provincial government gaming grants. Had the team not suffered these financial setbacks they would have earned a tidy profit, even in a year where attendance was down.

The Rebels aren't the only team in the league to lose money, according to President Jim Craig. He told me last night the league may discuss playing fewer inter-conference games when they meet for their AGM in Chase (ironically enough), as travel is getting more expensive as the league spreads out further across southern BC. He also told me the Rebels will apply this year for provincial funding, which has been reinstated by the Campbell government.

But Craig, and the rest of the Rebels board, are optimistic about next season. He tells me the team will make an effort to engage themselves more with the community, and in turn be more visible within it. And while they're still looking for volunteers and billet families for out-of-town players (anybody who is interested in helping out can email the team at, Craig says many of last year's players hope to be back if they don't end up finding opportunities at higher levels of hockey. Rebels coach Steve Junker and Trail Smoke Eaters coach/GM Jim Ingram are also said to be discussing a better working relationship between the two clubs, which could bode well for recruiting as well as development.
All in all, the team looks like they're on the right track, with the search for new recruits already underway, and plans being made to improve the game-night and off-ice product as well.

To hear my conversation with Rebels president Jim Craig, click here.

Bits and Bites: Nelson hired Chris Shaw as their new coach and general manager. He comes to the Leafs from the Penticton Lakers, where he spent last year as an assistant. He's also been an assistant with Alberni Valley in the BCHL. We'll see how he does filling the shoes of former Leaf bench boss Simon Wheeldon, who stepped down last month. The BCHL's Williams Lake Timberwolves have been suspended by the league's board of governors. Shawn Mullin has more on his blog. One wonders whether former Rebel Anthony DeLong (9-14-23 in 56 games in 2009-10) will come back to Castlegar if he isn't able to find a spot on another Junior A team.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Steve Junker Audio + AGM Monday

New Rebels coach Steve Junker visited the Mountain FM studio this week to sit down with our sports director Shawn Mullin. The interview aired on Overtime Tuesday night but in case you missed it, Shawn has the audio up on his blog as well as a chat with new Smoke Eaters assistant Bill Birks. To me, the one thing that sticks out is how pleased Junker is to be home, and to have a chance to throw some new perspectives into a team he grew up watching.

The Rebels are also holding their AGM Monday night (7:00 PM, Complex). Check back early next week for a recap.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chase Chiefs Officially Move

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.