I remember the ‘70s, playing for the Invermere Selects Senior Hockey Team, when Eddie Mountain landed a Junior “B” franchise for Invermere! I was disappointed and readily admit it took me a year or two before realizing just what the “Rockies” could and did bring to our community.
Hockey flows deep in the Canadian psyche and the Rockies have become part of the broader fabric of this small valley community. They became the goal for many local Minor hockey players, while attracting players and families from across Western Canada to Invermere. This organization, in turn, benefits the valley community as whole — economically and socially.
There are the obvious economic benefits that the hotels, restaurants, shops and small businesses receive, and more students in our high school where several players attend each year.
Socially, the benefits accrue to the “billets” that so graciously take in those boys from out of town and, in many cases, they and their families form lifelong relationships with them. Some of those who leave may continue their pursuit of the game, attending universities and colleges in both Canada and the U.S., but few if any will forget their time in the Columbia Valley. Let’s not forget those past “Rockies” who have chosen to live here permanently and are productive members of our community.
This season, the Rockies made the playoffs. However, the Creston Thunder Cats proved too much for them, winning the series in four games. No one likes to lose, but it is yet another lesson they can use as they move forward in their lives.
This year, five players, including two local lads, Damon Raven and Kellen Marchand, have aged out (20 years of age plus) and will have to move on.
Damon played more than 200 games for the Rockies and may have a future as a golf professional while Kellen Marchand is apprenticing as a plumber in the valley.
I know these young men and their teammates would have dearly loved to continue on with their season, but the lessons learned, from the competition and teamwork mixed with the blood, sweat and tears, will benefit them all as they move on through life.
Hats off to the Rockies executive, coaches, management, volunteers, supporters and fans, you have done us all proud. And while we’re at it, a heartfelt thanks to my old pal Eddie Mountain, as the Rockies are part of the legacy he left us with!