It is a sad March when the only hockey on view in the West Kootenay for the latter half of the month is a busy training camp full of folks who have been in Next Year Country for several weeks already.
We have been spoiled over the years, I suppose, by the perennial quality of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and the local (Neil Murdoch) junior B division – such quality that in any year when the Nitehawks were not playing at this point it could be assumed the teams in Nelson or Castlegar were still in the running for titles.
Now the closest junior hockey rink that still has action is in Kimberley, a bit much of a drive during the dicey weather conditions of early spring around here, even for hockey zealots.
The surprising Dynamiters went on an 8-3 run against teams above them in the standings to achieve the league championship finals, then won the first two games of that series, pushing their playoff record to 14-3, before Kamloops fought back with two wins in their home town to tie it.
Likely a zealot would enjoy the fifth game in Kimberley tonight. Given that Kamloops had to overcome the regular-season-dominant Osoyoos Coyotes to get to this point, it seems clear the finals are being competed by two surging squads.
Otherwise, as noted, the Smoke Eaters have a bustling business going at the Cominco Arena. There are things on the line there, just not current championship things.
A positive about that is it seems unlikely the team would be expending all that energy if there were many doubts about the Smokies appearing on the 2015/16 BCHL schedule. Nothing decided, or at least announced, officially, but I am being very hopeful.
• I suppose I was mislead by a similarly mislead writer when I placed, “Dr.,” in front of eldest son Marty Howe’s name in last week’s bit about Donnie Mcleod. I had seen in some article about his iconic dad that he was a Dr. now and tending to his famous but failing father.
Wherever I read that was mistaken, too. It is the youngest son, Murray, who is the MD – chairman of Toledo (Ohio) Hospital’s department of radiology, in fact. Marty, originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens but more a WHA player than an NHL one, stayed around the hockey world after his playing retirement in 1985.
So, sorry, Murray, and everyone I misinformed last week.
Hate it when that happens.