Another year has come to pass and 2015 provided plenty of highlights for Cranbrook and Kimberley athletes and sports teams, leaving plenty for fans, friends and family to reflect upon and celebrate as we all flip the calendar over to 2016.
From a pair of World Junior Championship medal performances by a couple Kootenay Ice players to a long-awaited Kootenay International Junior Hockey League championship for the Kimberley Dynamiters, there was no shortage of celebration for the two biggest hockey organizations in the region.
While the 2015 post-season push for the Kootenay Ice didn’t go as many hoped, it brought about a new era in Cranbrook’s Western Hockey League history as longtime head coach Ryan McGill mutually parted with the club, departing for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. With McGill’s departure, the Ice made 32-year-old Luke Pierce the youngest coach in the WHL, ushering in a new brand of Kootenay Ice hockey.
On the links, Kimberley’s Jared du Toit established himself as one of the next hot names to watch in Canadian amateur golf, as he claimed the 113th B.C. Amateur Golf Championship before making his move to the Arizona State University Sun Devils golf program, coached by Tim Mickelson.
If we could go through each momentous time in Cranbrook and Kimberley sports from the past year, we would, but unfortunately we’re limited. So as not to leave any achievement without recognition, we’ll go blow-by-blow from January through December in what was a memorable year in local sports.
-Kootenay Ice captain Sam Reinhart wins World Junior Championship gold with Team Canada, defeating Ice defenceman Rinat Valiev and Team Russia-Kimberley nordic skier Colin Ferrie represents B.C. at Canada Winter Games and World Under-23 Championship in Kazahkstan-Captain Sam Reinhart becomes the Kootenay Ice all-time franchise leader in scoring (287 points in 223 games), surpassing Jarret Stoll (286 points in 245 games) on Jan. 17 at Saskatoon. By the end of the season, Reinhart solidified his totals with 319 points in 250 WHL games before graduating to the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres in September-Kimberley’s Nikita Dalke finishes as the runner-up in Extreme Huntress competition
–Infamous Vancouver Canucks superfans — The Green Men — visit Western Financial Place for WHL action between the Kootenay Ice and Kelowna Rockets-Amateur climbers Noah Beck and Karlee Hall participate in World Youth Ice Climbing Championship-Kimberley’s Team Buchy represented at the 2015 Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championships in Vernon-Kimberley Dynamiters captain Jason Richter wins the 2014-15 KIJHL scoring championship with 39 goals and 31 assists for 70 points in 52 games-Kimberley/Cranbrook Special Olympics sent a record 11 athletes and four coaches to the Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops, returning home with 17 medals-Kimberley nordic skier Colin Ferrie wins gold in the men’s classic sprint and men’s relay at Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C.-Kimberley nordic skier Molly Miller, 13, wins silver in women’s relay at Canada Winter Games-Trio of Kimberley Dynamiters recognized with KIJHL division awards, including Jordan Busch (Top Defenceman), Jason Richter (MVP, Top Scorer) & Coy Prevost (Top Rookie)
-Cranbrook native and alpine skier and rower Joy Ward-Fera inducted into Canada Games Hall of Fame-College of the Rockies Lady Avalanche volleyball team finished fourth in first trip to PACWEST Provincial Championships-Kimberley Dynamiters claim Eddie Mountain Division title in six-game victory over Fernie Ghostriders-Kootenay Ice lock up 17th consecutive post-season appearance and 16th consecutive season with a record of .500 or better — an active WHL record-Cranbrook alpine racers India Sherret and Zoe Chore represent Canada at FIS Freestyle Junior World Championships in Valmalenco, Italy, with Sherret claiming gold in ski-cross-Kimberley Dynamiters claim Kootenay Conference title in five-game victory over Beaver Valley Nitehawks-Kimberley Dynamiters claim KIJHL championship in six-game victory over Kamloops Storm-Kimberley Dynamiters goaltender Tyson Brouwer named Playoff MVP
-Kimberley Dynamiters finish second at Cyclone Taylor Cup — B.C.’s provincial Junior B championship-Kootenay Ice centre Luke Philp named Top Playoff Performer following seven-game defeat in first-round series with Calgary Hitmen-Kootenay Ice and longtime head coach Ryan McGill mutually part ways after eight seasons spread over two separate stints (1997-98 to 2001-02; 2012-13 to 2014-15), two WHL titles (2000, 2002), a Memorial Cup (2002) and WHL Coach of the Year honours (2012-13).-Kimberley golfer Jared du Toit claims individual title at NCAA’s Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Championship, leading the University of Idaho to a team title along the way
-Kootenay Ice select forward Keenan Taphorn of Yorkton, Sask., with the team’s top pick at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft (second round, 34th overall)-Jeff Hollick, longtime radio play-by-play voice of the Kootenay Ice, steps down after 16 seasons. He is eventually replaced by Chris Wahl.-Luke Pierce, 32, is named the seventh coach in Kootenay Ice history, taking over from the departed Ryan McGill. Upon puck drop, Pierce is the youngest coach in the Western Hockey League.-Kimberley’s Julia Dereniwsky claims BCGA Rose Bowl Trophy after winning Zone 1 Women’s Golf Championship, hosted at Kimberley Golf Club-Cranbrook’s Ben Rutledge helps coach Russian women’s eight-plus rowing squad to gold at 2015 European Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland
WHL commissioner Ron Robison declares 2015-16 season as “critical stage” for Kootenay Ice remaining in Cranbrook, suggesting “in excess of 3,000 [fans] a game” will be needed to help stabilize franchise.
-Cranbrook natives Zak Campbell, Conor Sinclair and Callum Sinclair selected to represent Vancouver South at B.C. Rugby Provincial Regional Championships-Cranbrook Bandits left-handed pitcher Tyler Thorn tosses no-hitter in 11-0 victory over Priest River in American Legion Baseball action at Kalispell, Mont.-Kimberley’s Jared du Toit claims 113th B.C. Amateur Championship-Cranbrook Bandits advance to second consecutive American Legion State ‘B’ Baseball championship, falling 7-0 to the Bitterroot Red Sox in the title contest-Olympic gold medallists Meaghan Mikkelson and Natalie Spooner visit Cranbrook with Clarkson Cup, the top prize in women’s pro hockey, to promote growth in women’s hockey-Kimberley-born sit skier and Paralympic gold medallist Josh Dueck named to 2015 Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame induction class
-Cranbrook’s Brittany Johnson named Archery Canada’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year
-Cranbrook wakeboarders Colden Thompson (junior men’s silver), Ryder Duczek (junior boys’ gold) and Dagen Duczek (junior boys’ silver) hit podium at 2015 Wake Canada Wakeboarding National Championship-In 50th season, WHL announces list of all-time greatest players, featuring Cranbrook natives Ray Allison, Don Murdoch & Scott Niedermayer, along with Kootenay Ice alumni Nigel Dawes, Cody Eakin, Sam Reinhart and Jarret Stoll-Longtime Kootenay Ice defenceman Tanner Faith traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors
-Kootenay Ice head coach Luke Pierce gets his first-career WHL coaching victory in a 5-2 win over the Spokane Chiefs on Oct. 2-Longtime Kootenay Ice forward Jon Martin traded to the Swift Current Broncos-Kootenay Ice name Luke Philp 19th captain in franchise history-Kimberley’s Jared du Toit named to Golf Canada’s 2016 National Amateur Men’s Golf squad-Kimberley Dynamiters Tyson Brouwer and Eric Buckley commit to ACHA Div. I men’s hockey program at University of Jamestown for 2016-17 season. They would later be joined by teammate Justin Meier, who also committed to Jamestown for next season.-Cranbrook Charity Boxing Challenge raises more than $30,000 for local charity
-Cranbrook natives and SAIT Trojans soccer stars Mike Hamm and Erin White named to ACAC South All-Conference squads-Cranbrook wakeboards Colden Thompson (Athlete of Year), Ryder Duczek and Dagen Duczek (Developing Athletes of Year) recognized by Water Ski & Wakeboard Alberta-Kootenay Ice prospect Eli Lieffers, 15, makes WHL debut-Kootenay Ice rookie Declan Hobbs earns WHL Goaltender of the Week honours
-Kimberley’s Bailey Park, 15, commits to NCAA’s Yale Bulldogs women’s hockey program for 2018-19 season-Kimberley Dynamiters captain Jason Richter scores 100th career KIJHL goal-Kimberley rink skipped by Tom Buchy qualifies to represent Kootenays at 2016 B.C. Men’s Curling Championships in Nelson-Kimberley curling rink skipped by Alysha Buchy represents Kootenays at Tim Hortons Junior Women’s B.C. Curling Championships in Kamloops
With 2016 already well underway, there will undoubtedly be much more to look forward to in local sports and, as always, the Townsman and Bulletin will be here to make sure you know.
Best wishes to you and yours in the new year and may all your athletic endeavours come with success.