By Camille Aubin
[email protected]

The Columbia Valley Rockies, Invermere’s local junior hockey team, launched their season with a full month of exhibition games, seven in total.  The regular season then began on Nov. 13 against the Thunder Cats from Creston Valley at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena in Invermere. The first game resulted in a tie 1-1. The Rockies then lost their second game 5-2.

When the Pioneer asked assistant coach Tryg Strand how the beginning of the season was, he replied, “First few weeks back to hockey have been great. It’s really been nice for our players, and ourselves as a coaching staff, to return to a bit of normalcy with the start of a new hockey season.” Team captain Greg Parker adds, “I’m super excited to get back and play competitively. We have a great group of players who really put in the work and have a great collective attitude.”

With seven games played so far, coach Strand mentioned that there is a large group of core returning players who represented an important role in the postseason success last year, and coaches are thrilled to have them back. There are also some young recruits that Strand qualified as a strong addition to the team, saying “We are excited to watch (them) grow this season.”

Their goal for the winter is already well established in the minds of the whole team: “Our objective is to get better every week as a unit, working towards our goal of being a championship caliber team by the time we get to the playoffs,” said Strand.

It won’t be easy to create team chemistry outside the rink this year. Like everything, sports such as hockey must follow and obey COVID-19 pandemic protocols and guidelines in and outside the rink, including specific ones created by Hockey Canada and the provincial government. There is a restriction of social activities when players are not in training or playing during a game. Respecting the ‘bubble’ rule makes it significantly harder for players to see and hang out with their family and friends.

For the coaching staff, managing the team’s health and making strategic decisions will be more challenging due to the current situation as they are unable to have associated players, and any new athlete must be quarantined for two weeks before joining the team.

No physical distancing is required on ice, and full contact is allowed. “New rules have been enforced to whistle down the play when more than three players get involved in a scrum for the puck on the half wall, penalties for being in scrums after the whistle, face-washing etc.,” explained Strand.

“The new sanitation and safety measures that were put in place really help the players feel safe and comfortable with coming to the rink or the gym and just focusing on the task at hand,” commented Greg Parker.

Another novelty due to the pandemic is the sport cohort, “It consists of fifty people, or four teams that will allow for players to be involved in contact activity and breach the two-meter physical distance guidelines,” described Strand. This means that for the entire first half of the season, the Rockies will play exclusively against just three fellow teams: the Kimberley Dynamiters, the Fernie Ghostriders and the Creston Valley Thundercats. “Later on in the year, the Golden Rockets will replace Creston in our cohort. This will be sure to create some heated rivalries, which is great hockey to watch for our fans,” said Strand.

 If you like to watch the Rockies in action, visit, sign up for an account and select the ‘All Access subscription’. Columbia Valley Rockies fans will receive $80 off the cost of an annual HockeyTV subscription with the unique team code KIJHLROCKIES20 until Nov. 16. The Rockies will receive a $10 rebate for every annual pass sold using this team code.

“It really takes some time getting used to playing in front of no fans because that’s what makes junior hockey so exciting as a player. I think the guys are just happy to be fortunate enough to be able to play hockey at all this year.” concluded Parker.