The Major Midget Kootenay Ice named its coaching staff on Wednesday with Fruitvale native and former Eastern Washington University standout Kris Boyce taking over the reins of the BC Hockey team.
Boyce will lead the Ice in its inaugural season in Trail for the 2016-17 BC Hockey Major Midget season. Joining Boyce on the coaching staff are Paul Mailey, Thomas Abenante, and Tyler Hlookoff as assistants, and Matt Larmour as the team’s trainer.
Boyce is a Fruitvale native, who played all his minor hockey in Beaver Valley. The 31-year-old played one year for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks before joining the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the BCHL for three seasons. He combined education and hockey spending four years at EWU where he finished off his college career with an MVP season, an All Star selection, and second-team All American. After graduating with a degree in engineering, Boyce returned to Beaver Valley where he helped coach the Nitehawks to a KIJHL championship in 2011.
Boyce worked in Calgary for a number of years, before returning to Greater Trail this year, and his familiarity with Jones, who is also coach and GM of the Nitehawks, will be a definite asset.
“Kris was a hard worker and great player for us with the Nitehawks, and was a great coach for us in his one year stint,” said Ice GM Terry Jones. “The Ice are very excited that he is able to lead a great group of young coaches.”
Mailey, a Trail native, played all his minor hockey in Greater Trail before becoming the face of the Smoke Eaters from 2006-11. The 26-year-old went on to SAIT where he played for the Trojans and completed the Civil Engineer Technologist program, was married in 2015 and moved back to the West Kootenay, where he now resides in Rossland.
Abenante, also born and raised in Trail, was part of the inaugural Kootenay Ice Major Midget team in 2006-07. From 2007-09, Abenante played for the Nitehawks before becoming a Smoke Eater for the 2009-10 season. He also attended SAIT in 2012, taking Engineering Drafting and Design Technology and worked in Calgary until the Fall of 2014 before moving back home to Trail.
Tyler Hlookoff was born and raised in the Castlegar area, played locally with the Castlegar Rebels and Quesnel Millionaires before playing in the WHL with the Edmonton Ice. He played college and CIS hockey with SAIT and the University of Lethbridge while getting a degree in Information Technology. He currently works in the IT department at Fortis and lives in Genelle.
The Ice will hold its selection camp in Trail Aug. 19-21
“We expect to have a competitive camp, and look forward to the process of developing a hard working team and culture,” said Jones. “Our expectations are that as a team we will work to get better every day at our skill development, fitness, tactical-team approach and building team unity. If we embrace this process as a team, we will see positive results on the scoreboard and in the standings.”
The Major Midget Ice and Female Midget AAA Kootenay Wild, former Nelson-based teams, were moved to Trail earlier this year, and will be a part of the J. L. Crowe High Performance Hockey Academy.
“It’s going to be different this year,” is the Ice’s new mantra. The Kootenay team has been perennial basement dwellers in a very competitive Major Midget league, but Jones and the coaching staff are looking to turn the program around.
“It’s what I personally believe and our coaching staff believes, and we look forward to making this team successful in all areas.”
The Ice will participate in a preseason tournament in Kelowna, Sept. 9-11, and will host the Coeur d’Alene Hockey Academy Sept. 17-18, before opening its season against the Prince George Cougars on Sept. 24-25.