Submitted by Karen Fahrni
For the first time in 19 years, your Columbia Valley Rockies finished the regular season as Eddie Mountain Division and Kootenay Conference Champions after falling one point shy of the feat last season. The impressive regular season record gives the Rockies home ice advantage heading into playoffs with games 1 and 2 at the Eddie February 17 and 18 at 7:30pm.
Coach Emery Olauson has a young team that believes in themselves. “We believe in our depth, and think we have a ton of character in our dressing room,” commented Olauson “Throughout the regular season we challenged our players to be extraordinary and they have met that challenge head on.”
When team captain, Anthony Domina, was asked about playoff expectations, he quickly responded with “Our team is very invested in going on a deep playoff run and we have the players and coaching to be plenty successful.”
The result wasn’t an overnight success story but rather a part of a multi-year vision led by a team of dedicated board members and coaching staff, along with the support of countless volunteers and community businesses. For the past five seasons, the Rockies looked to improve their results on and off the ice, and have done just that.
In June of 2018, the Rockies board conducted an organizational assessment, with the help of the Columbia Basin Trust and a brainstorming session with members of the community. With that, it was clear on-ice success would only follow if the community supported the team. A culture change was needed.
“Those early days were challenging. However, we took small steps to engage our community and recruited players and coaches that supported and demonstrated the new culture we wanted.” commented Rockies President Brett Holt. “As our success on and off the ice improved we were able to deliver positive results to our sponsors, volunteers, fans and our billet families that were and are the lifeblood of our program.”
“We also want to reflect and honour all of those who contributed over the years to Rockies hockey,” Holt emphasized. “We would not be enjoying these results without the work that so many community members put in. I would personally like to thank everyone that has played a part over the last 40-plus years. I encourage everyone to come out and support YOUR Columbia Valley Rockies!!”
“It has been so exciting to see this town’s support grow throughout the season and our fans and sponsors, as well as our players and staff have earned the right to enter the playoffs as favourites,” said Olauson, “We know however, that every team has a great chance, and if you aren’t at your best in this league, you aren’t going to win.”
On Feb. 10 the Rockies defeated the Fernie Ghostriders 5-2 at the Eddie. On Feb. 11, the Kimberley Dynamiters beat the Rockies 4-3 in overtime in Kimberley.
With attendance strong all season, the Rockies are expecting sell-out crowds during their playoff run, especially with a guaranteed 50/50 pot of $1000 at each game. To help mitigate the long lines and to guarantee a seat, fans are encouraged to buy tickets in advance online at www.rockieshockey.ca/tickets