Thompson Rivers University Athletics and Recreation Director Ken Olynyk has announced that effective immediately, the hockey program is ceasing operations.
“I would like to thank the past and current members of the Hockey Board of Directors for their hard work and tireless effort,” said Olynyk. “They established this program five years ago for student/athletes who wanted to continue to play competitive hockey while pursuing their education. They made every effort possible to maintain the program to this point, but due to economics and a lack of a sustainable model, we have no choice but to dissolve the program.”
Hockey returned to Thompson Rivers in 2008-09 under the direction of head coach Chris Hans. They finished second in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League with a record of 16 wins and eight losses. This past season in the BCIHL, the WolfPack wound up fourth with nine wins and 14 defeats and were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by eventual league champion Selkirk College Saints. Thompson Rivers have been coached the past three seasons by Don Schulz.
For further information: Please contact Ken Olynyk (250) 828-5273 or (250) 320-4263. firstname.lastname@example.org
As a result, the BCIHL will operate with five member teams – Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University and the University of Victoria – for the 2014/15 hockey season.
“We’re sorry to lose a valued member that has provided high-quality competition in our league for the past five years,” says BCIHL President Kim Verigin. “The timing and circumstances surrounding TRU’s decision are unfortunate and disappointing, but it’s important at times like these to focus on the many areas where the league has made great strides in the areas of competitive growth and stability.”
In recent years, the BCIHL has become a premier option for graduating junior hockey players from leagues like the WHL and BCHL to compete at the post-secondary level in their home province.
As well, BCIHL teams have participated in exhibition play with teams from the NCAA and CIS. Last season, Simon Fraser University hosted NCAA Division I heavyweights North Dakota and Princeton in Burnaby, and this season will join Trinity Western University in travelling to face top-level American college opposition south of the border in October.
“The BCIHL has become and will continue to be a tremendous option for student-athletes who are seeking an elite academic and hockey experience,” says Verigin. “We will work to assist TRU’s existing players in any way possible in order to support them under these difficult circumstances. We will also embark on an aggressive search to identify potential schools to join our league, but ultimately our membership is very satisfied with the level of play and the overall health of the BCIHL.”
TRU joined the BCIHL in 2009 and has been a two-time league finalist (2010, 2011) while participating in the league playoffs in each of their five seasons. They finished fourth during regular season play in 2013/14 with a record of 9-14-0-1 and were eliminated by Selkirk College in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs.
“I would like to thank the past and current members of the Hockey Board of Directors for their hard work and tireless effort,” says TRU Director of Athletics Ken Olynyk. “They established this program five years ago for student-athletes who wanted to continue to play competitive hockey while pursuing their education. They made every effort possible to maintain the program to this point, but due to economics and a lack of a sustainable model, we have no choice but to dissolve the program.”
The BCIHL will announce details of its schedule for the 2014/15 season in the coming days.
. . . TRU head of Sports Finances, Matthew Milovick, via e-mail (email@example.com) and explain how the dissolving of the team has affected . . .
. . . them personally, the players, the university, or the community itself. Thank-you in advance, everyone. Let’s see what we can do!”
“TRU has to be up front about the fact players have to pay. I don’t believe it puts the program at a disadvantage recruiting-wise. They still can approach a top end junior B player or a depth junior A player and tell them they can play collegiate hockey close to home in front of friends and family in a lot of cases all for $10,000 to $12,000 inclusive of tuition, lodging and hockey.
From my perspective (and many others but I won’t speak for them) many of the final road blocks that stalled the program where just products of a negative culture that swept through the hockey operations and created strained relationships with all of the departments involved. The biggest one I have seen is the contention that TRU Hockey is at a recruiting disadvantage because they have players fees. Of course if that’s the attitude one leads with it will absolutely hinder recruiting. I can spin several reasons why TRU is the best place to play hockey in the BCIHL without even breaking a sweat. We could charge $1900 and still sell the program.
-an entire year of education,housing and hockey is a fraction of what families pay to send their son to Division III schools in the US. We have to get that message out there.
-TRU is the most well rounded of all the Schools in the BCIHL. From upgrading, to trades, certificates, diplomas, degrees, post graduate, culinary, science,nursing, arts and on and on. SFU and Uvic can’t boast this type of diversity. Selkirk has to recruit half a team each year due to having 1 and 2 year programs.
-Kamloops is a perfect size city and it’s location makes it accessible for families to visit and attend games.
I won’t go on, I’m sure you get my point. Ken, these are hockey operations issues. These can and will be fixed. This program just needs a few dedicated volunteers at different points of the province shaking hands with players, parents and coaches and selling the TRU story. Not unlike how you recruit for your Varsity sports. One of the big differences is that hockey families are used to spending their money, you just have to build value into it.
The last point I want to touch on is what those 25 or so students mean to the school economically. You and I touched on this and it was you who gave me the economic benefit a single student brings to the community and the school. Multiply that by 25 and I am still perplexed at how this could not be resonating further up the food chain at TRU. This is a team of 25 or so students who, with a few exceptions are now here today gone tomorrow along with their money. I thought this was about money. Obviously it’s not all about money.
I know if an olive branch is extended and this season is saved, we have time to recruit a team. The society has not been dissolved and mistakes made will not be repeated.
Ken, hockey is our national sport, BC and Kamloops love the game. It is a sport where underdogs are glorified. Those who persevere are honoured and rewarded. Hockey players and those who love hockey are cut from a different cloth. Character is a pre requisite and those without it are quickly weeded out. Give these kids,families and the society another chance and they will not look back. I imagine what you need is a program that runs itself as much as possible and that hasn’t been the case the last couple years. I believe this can be the case moving forward. Please help us find a way.