Jarret Stoll is coming back to the place where he won a Memorial Cup and two Western Hockey League Championships.
On March 2, the Ice alumnus will be the first member inducted into the ICE Hall of Fame during a pre-game ceremony against the Calgary Hitmen.
“I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else,” said Stoll.
When Stoll found out he was going to be the first inducted into the new hall of fame, he said his first reaction was how proud and honoured he was.
“I was proud to be a part of that organization for four years, and had a lot of great memories there and winning a couple of championships there.”
The former Ice captain spent his entire junior career with the Ice and says he grew as a person in Cranbrook.
“I grew up in Cranbrook in a lot of different ways. Becoming a young man in Cranbrook, moving away from home when I was 16 … I definitely learned a lot of things,” said Stoll.
Winning is always a goal when playing professional sports, so it was no surprise when Stoll explained winning the WHL Championship in 2000 was a top memory for him.
“Then going to the Memorial Cup — we didn’t do very well in the Memorial Cup in 2000. But, we learned a lot from our mistakes and our losses there and taking that forward,” he said.
The Ice were back in contention after winning the WHL Championship while on home ice in 2002 against the Red Deer Rebels, Stoll says that series was one of his favourites. The Ice won the series 4-2, with game six going into double overtime.
“Lifting that trophy at centre ice, at the Rec Plex — what it was called back then — that was probably my biggest memory,” he said,
The team then had another chance at the Memorial Cup in Guelph, Ont., where the Ice beat the Victoriaville Tigers 6-3.
“That whole year was special,” said Stoll. “The whole playoff run, the way the fans got behind us, the support we had. Not only travelling with us on the road — the support on the road was awesome. A lot of fans travelled across the country all the way to Guelph to watch us.”
Stoll adds when the team brought home the Memorial Cup trophy in 2002 he still remembers the fans waiting for them.
“The streets were aligned with fans as we were busing in … It was just like a parade, and we had just got home and we had the rally in the Rec Plex, and pretty much sold out the Rec Plex just for a rally to see the Memorial Cup and listen to some speeches,” he said remembering there were floats, and the team would throw merchandise and pucks into the crowd.
“Everybody chanting ‘Go Ice Go’ it was awesome and so much fun.”
The fans in Cranbrook gave Stoll many memories over his time in the city, which he has not forgotten.
“There was a group of people that would dress up as chefs and they would stir the pot. That was their thing … they would stir the pot the whole game and chant different things, chant at the opposing team. It was like our own cheering section in our crowd. It started at the old Memorial Arena,” he said.
The first two years when the Ice played at the Memorial Arena Stoll says it was a building opposing teams didn’t want to play in.
“It was a small, tough building to come and play us. We had a great record in there because it was a tough place to play. The fans were right on top of you and created a great atmosphere. Then moving over to the new arena was a fresh start,” he said.
The WHL produces hundreds of hockey players who go on to have successful careers, and being part of the league Stoll says helped him with his long-term career.
“Playing 72 games, it’s a lot. We are going to high school, we have our classes, making sure we are up to date with our schooling, and we have two-week long road trips and travelling on the bus across Western Canada … it’s not easy but you learn to fight through and battle through a lot of different situations and circumstances. You build a lot of character because of it,” he said.
It wasn’t only the championship memories for Stoll, but also those of his billets, who were a major part of his life. They even taught him life lessons like washing his clothes and doing the dishes
“I see my billets a lot, I still talk to my billet family all the time, so it will be good to spend a couple days with them again,” said Stoll.
Stoll was named the captain of the Ice in his third year with the team. They went on to win the WHL Championship and Memorial Cup with Stoll as their captain. He then went on to have a successful National Hockey League career where he won two Stanley Cup Championships with the Los Angeles Kings.
At the March 2 ceremony, other guests attending will include former Ice head scout Roy Stasiuk, former Ice head coach Cory Clouston, former owner, president and general manager Jeff Chynoweth and more.
“It will be awesome to feel that support. They don’t have to come, they don’t have to take the time to come, but they are it means a lot,” added Stoll.
While Stoll is retired from hockey he is still active in the hockey community. He is currently involved with Los Angeles King’s player development and also works for FOX Sports, doing pregame and postgame analysis for the Kings home games.