FERNIE FINALE – Spirits were high during the Rockies final home game of the season on Saturday

FERNIE FINALE – Spirits were high during the Rockies final home game of the season on Saturday

KIJHL: Rockies rejoice after soul-searching season

While the team itself didn’t advance into the post-season, many Columbia Valley Rockies players found success with other clubs.

While the team itself didn’t advance into the post-season, many Columbia Valley Rockies players found success with other clubs.

Sam Young, who registered 15 goals and 16 assists after 31 games with the Rockies, has been called up as an affiliate with the Surrey Eagles. He is currently recovering from injury however.

Before being traded to the Fernie Ghostriders, Doan Smith, who scored 39 points in just 26 games with Rockies, finished the season as the league’s second-leading scorer, with 62 points. His season ended early because of an injury caused from receiving an awkward hit, but if the Ghostriders continue finding success in the playoffs, he’s expected to return by the conference finals, or possibly the league finals.

Once he became a Ghostrider, Smith replaced a top-performer who advanced to the BCHL, and was placed on the top-scoring line in the KIJHL, with Aaron Neufeld and Sam Plaquin.

“Doan slid right in with them; fit in perfect,” said Craig Mohr, head coach and general manager of the Ghostriders. “He’s a shooter – he goes to the net.”

After 38 games with the Rockies last season, forward Braydon Barker scored 11 goals and 22 assists, and has joined the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen as an affiliate player.

“Braydon definitely can make (the major) junior (leagues) a if he’s committed enough in the off season,” said Ross Bidinger, general manager.

He’s being joined as an affiliate on the Rivermen by teammate Ryan St. Jean, who scored eight goals and 28 assists after 43 games on Columbia Valley.

Mr. Bidinger said that a relationship has been established between the Rivermen and the Rockies, and the former has decided to co-host their training camp with the Rockies.

“They’re a family owned team, and they came by and were impressed by how things were running, Mr. Bidinger said.

Their joint-spring hockey camp will take place at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena, and begins on Friday, April 23rd.

“We’ve mandated development as our focus – some teams want to focus on winning championships,” Mr. Bidinger said. “It’s not that we don’t want to win championships, but we aim to send kids up to Junior A.”

He said that the three Rockies players to move forward over the past season is likely a greater number than most teams. And during the exit interviews with head coach Wade Dubielewicz, none of the Rockies ruled out the idea of returning for another season.

“Harrison Davies really grew in the last half of the year – he has a significant chance to advance himself to Junior A,” he said.

The Rockies starting goalie was never fully defined over the past season, and no decisions have been made as to who will be between the pipes next year.

In their fundraising efforts towards a new bus, the Rockies are taking advantage of multiple revenue streams.

The club prepared hockey rinks on Lake Windermere last weekend, as four teams spent the weekend taking part in a recreational pond hockey tournament. Upon conclusion, the tournament organizers made a $1,500 donation towards the Rockies. Similarly, the Rockies took over the organizing role for the BC Pond Hockey Championships, which are held each year in January on Lake Windermere.

Each summer, the team sells raffle tickets to win a classic sports car – and this year’s model will be a 1977 red Chevrolet Corvette, which Mr. Bidinger said is in really nice shape.

Once the Rockies have a better idea as to which players will be on the 2015-2016 roster, they’ll be holding their annual training camp at the end of August.

Other fundraisers that keeps the club busy are the Rockies Golf Tournament every September, as well as Bullriding in the Rockies in July.

The team’s most recent roster met last week for their end-of-season award banquet, which commemorated the contribution of everybody involved, as well as special efforts from volunteers and high-achievers.

Award winners were Ryan St. Jean (MVP), Ryan St. Jean (Rookie of the Year), Ryan St. Jean (top offensive defenseman), Patrick Ostermann (most dedicated player), Jayden Jefferson (most improved player), Ty Duncan (most inspirational player), Sam Young (top offensive forward), Dario Piva (top defensive forward), Carter Forsyth and Tyson Kapty (top defensive defenseman), Kellen Marchand (coaches choice), Harrison Davies (unsung hero), Randy Teeple (community involvement award), Marilyn Berry (volunteer of the year),  Roger Dubeilewicz (lifetime volunteer award).

Rockies vice president of hockey operations Graeme Anderson extended a big thank you on behalf of the team to all team and special event sponsors, fans, volunteers, staff, billet families, player families and the players.

The Rockies are looking forward not just to the upcoming spring recreational hockey tournament in April and the spring camp, but also to helping organize Bull Riding in the Rockies in July, the Rockies golf tournament at Copper Point this September.