The 2002 Kootenay Ice team will be inducted into the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame, honouring it’s Memorial Cup championship season, during a ceremony in Penticton in the summer.
The squad made history as Kootenay’s first, and only, Memorial Cup during 21 seasons of WHL action in Cranbrook.
After capturing the 2002 WHL title by defeating the Red Deer Rebels in the finals, the Ice earned a berth into the national tournament that annually crowns the country’s top major-junior team.
Hosted in Guelph, the Kootenay team played their way into the final, following the round-robin action, facing off against the Victoriaville Tigres — the only team that beat them in earlier action.
With a pair of goals from Colin Sinclair, the Ice made history as Memorial Cup champions with a 6-3 win over the Tigres.
Sinclair, who had a five-year WHL career with the Ice, returned to Cranbrook after playing university hockey and minor pro, where he is now running a business and raising a family with his wife, Sarah.
Sinclair said he knew about the team’s pending induction roughly a week before the announcement, after getting a call from Jeff Chynoweth, the former owner of the Ice franchise.
It’s been nearly two decades since the Ice won the Memorial Cup, but some memories are still fresh for Sinclair. He said he’s been texting with a few of his old teammates, noting everyone is excited to get together and relive the glory days during a gala event in Penticton on July 24, 2020.
“It’s great to be champions and we had two championship teams, but to actually win the WHL championship and also be the team to bring home the holy grail of the Memorial Cup…it’s just been a great few days of reminiscing,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair joined the Ice the year the franchise relocated to Cranbrook from Edmonton for the 1998-99 season, and was a member of the 2000 WHL championship team that went to the Memorial Cup in Halifax.
It was a tough outing for the Ice, which finished the tournament with three losses in as many games.
However, two years later, the Kootenay boys were back vying for the Memorial Cup, returning many of the same players such as Sinclair, Jarret Stoll, Kyle Sheen, and B.J. Boxma, as well as head coach Ryan McGill.
In 2002, the Ice — then in the B.C. Division — finished regular season play in second place, setting up a first-round playoff matchup against the Prince George Cougars.
While the Ice initially went down a two-game series deficit, they evened it up on the road, winning their next two. Kootenay went up for a 3-2 series lead, but the Cougars won the next contest, setting up a Game 7 winner-take-all, which the Ice took by a score of 5-1.
After surviving a scare that took them to the brink, the Ice caught fire.
They swept the Seattle Thunderbirds in the conference semi-finals, and defeated the Kelowna Rockets in a 4-1 series in the conference finals, setting up a WHL championship final with the Red Deer Rebels.
Although Kootenay won the series 4-2, three of those games were decided in overtime; the championship winner went to two extra frames as Duncan Milroy — the league playoff MVP — was the hero by scoring the series-clinching goal.
Following the WHL championship, the Ice headed to Ontario on the road to Memorial Cup immortality.
“We had Jarret Stoll and Marek Svatos and Duncan Milroy — we had some great players, but we weren’t a team of all-stars,” Sinclair said. “We were just so cohesive as a team that we just all showed up and played at the right time.”
The Ice downed the Erie Otters 3-0 in their first game, and defeated the Guelph Storm 4-3. Despite a 3-2 loss to the Tigres, the Ice’s round-robin record seeded them into the Memorial Cup final, where they won a 6-3 rematch over the Tigres.
“At the end of the day, I really feel we did something special and the community was just amazing in embracing us,” Sinclair said.
In both 2000 and 2002, Sinclair highlighted the support of hundreds of fans that followed the team to Halifax and Guelph.
“In Guelph, we had the whole corner of Kootenay Ice supporters — I was lucky, my billets came down, my parents came down, my brother came down…just the support we had for such a small community…it made the whole experience that much better to be able to share it with the community,” Sinclair said.
The 2002 Kootenay Ice will be inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame along with other inductees including Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund in the player category, Jay Sharrers in the official category, and Ray Stonehouse in the builder category, while the 2012 Penticton Vees will also join the Ice in the team category.
“We kind of all go our other ways, but at the end of the day, when you win a championship together, there’s always that bond that you’re going to have that nobody really does have,” Sinclair said.
“We were such a close-knit team and we have such great memories.”
The 2002 Kootenay Ice:
Igor Agarunov, Bryan Bridges, B.J. Boxma, Nigel Dawes, Gerard Dicaire, Brennan Evans, Cole Fischer, Curtis Fransoo, Travis Featherstone, Richard Hamula, Chris LaValley, Dale Mahovsky, Steve Makway, Duncan Milroy, Shaun Norrie, Tomas Plihal, Kyle Sheen, Colin Sinclair, Jarret Stoll, Marek Svatos, Adam Taylor, Andy Thompson, Craig Weller, Jeff Chynoweth (general manager), Ryan McGill (coach).