With a solid cast of seasoned veterans, the Columbia Valley Rockies
lineup is tuned for what could be the clubs best season in years.
Nine veterans lead a talented Junior B team that will be a Kootenay
International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) contender. Ryan Henderson, Josh Haley, Mitch Rosko, Kirk Lissel, Brad Palumbo, Damon Raven, Jerome Thorne, Dustin Boone, Racey Red Crow and Briar McNaney will be initiating newcomers in the Rockies brand of gritty, exciting hockey.
Despite the 2013-2014 season getting off to a rusty start with a pair of losses, the Rockies appear to be in a better position within the Eddie Mountain division.
After finishing the standard 52-game season in 2012-2013, the Rockies had accumulated 48 points and won 21 games, finishing seventh among ten teams in the Kootenay Division. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after six games.
But as soon as last season ended, the rebuilding began.
Were planning on being one of the stronger teams in the division and in the league this year, general manager Ross Bidinger told The Pioneer
during training camp.
I was really impressed by our coaching staff, how they moved things around and tried different chemistry on the different lineups, said Rockies president Al Miller. I think were in for a great season.
During the summer, the Rockies were able to showcase Invermere to a large number of Junior A tryout-players, with a total of 120 players taking part in the joint training camp between Columbia Valley and the Chilliwack Chiefs of the B.C. Hockey League.
Entering the season, there were three goalies fiercely competing for two positions, putting the coaches in the tough position of having to cut
a talented goalie.
In the end, Brody Nelson, who tended goal for the team last year, and Justin Miller (formerly of the Kimberley Dynamiters) were named as the Rockies 2013-2014 goaltenders.
Some new skaters to watch for include Zach Schlitt, Doan Smith, Graham Watkins, Spencer Barlow, and Logan Kerner, whove made good impressions in exhibition games and during the first games of the season.
The team will be making changes to its roster as the season progresses. Now boasting 25 players, in late fall the Rockies roster will be cut to 24.
The final roster of 23 players will be
determined by January 10th.
Those who make the final cut will have a chance at making a big impact in the KIJHL, which is
arguably the best Junior B league in Canada. The league has produced National Hockey League stars such as defencemen Shea Weber and Cody Franson, forward Adam Deadmarsh, and the Rockies own former NHL
goaltender, and current head coach, Wade Dubielewicz.