The Trail Commercial Hockey League (TCHL) is set to hit the ice Oct. 1, and will kick off the season with its annual draft on Thursday.
The five-team league welcomes new players to sign up prior to the draft. So far eight new additions will go into the selection process but the league is hoping for more.
“We draft every year which fills up vacancies,” said TCHL president Grant Tyson. “Players quit, or move out of town . . . I don’t know everybody’s roster, but I know for sure one team needs five guys.”
The TCHL is a competitive, non-hitting league that allows slapshots and plays a 32 game schedule, decided by a playoff and championship game.
The league is one of the best in the West Kootenay with skilled players from Trail, Rossland, Castlegar, Montrose, and Fruitvale playing up to two games per week.
The TCHL has been active for over 30 years, but with all its games played at the Cominco Arena in Trail, a clampdown on Trail Recreation Program and its sports passes last year threatened to alienate its Rossland-based players. However, last season the City of Trail provided a grant to the TCHL and repeated that gesture for this season. In a Sept. 18 special council meeting, Trail council voted to help out the league with a $3,000 grant as a TRP supplement due to the absence of a recreation agreement with Rossland.
“We would have lost a team if the Rossland guys couldn’t play,” said Tyson. “So we would have been down to four teams, and they would have lost that ice time, the city, so by them giving us the grant they’re still making money.”
The loss of 13 Rossland players, the equivalent of a TCHL team, would have meant a reduction of 27 one-hour ice slots, translating to a $4,000 loss for the City and a severe detriment to the league.
“We appreciate the City of Trail helping us out, because we’d be down to four teams, and it would be pretty tough.”
Allstar won the TCHL championship last season, with a 5-3 upset over regular-season champion ReMax. OK Tire, Gericks and Arlington round out the league and will begin their quest for the TCHL title when the puck drops on Oct. 1.
New players can sign up at Gerick Sports by Thursday’s deadline or call Tyson at 368-1157.