KIJHL team preview: Columbia Valley Rockies
By Emanuel Sequeira
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) 2021-22 season begins Oct. 1. Leading into the season we are providing previews on each of the teams.
First up are the Columbia Valley Rockies in the Eddie Mountain Division. Under new head coach Briar McNaney, the Rockies went 3-0 last season and were tied for the second best goal differential in the league.
Key Returnees: “I’m expecting them to set our standards. I feel we have a good culture that we’ve grown over the years,” said McNaney. “Everything you get is earned. I feel that they have earned every little bit of praise and ice time through their time spent here. It left a lasting impression on players who have left and have come to our program through our recruiting.”
Rookie to Watch: “Our rookies will bring a variety of roles to our program in the community, but as well as on the ice. We feel they fit our culture both on and off the ice and can fill any role in our lineup, whether it be at the top, or the bottom, as well as our power play and penalty kill.”
It has been emphasized to the rookies that they earn everything that they get. That approach to thank and give recognition to not only players returning this year, but past players to help set that culture, McNaney added.
“We are ultimately able to recruit players that fit the Columbia Valley Rockies as an organization as well as the community of Invermere and the Columbia Valley.”
Season outlook: “The biggest thing that will move us into a successful direction will be the maturity and progression of each individual player as a man and a teammate. The recipe to success is truly teamwork and progression of the individual on and off the ice.”
McNaney wants the Rockies to play a “high-flying style that is pretty new-school that will excite all of our fans, scouts and coaches around the league.”
McNaney added their style will be similar to the Tampa Bay Lightning and a mixture of the U.S. National team development program that should help progress the players, not only this year, but in the future.
Coach’s quote: “We will be fun to watch,” McNaney continued. “We will hopefully make a statement on how to progress players. We do feel that fans are gonna line up to see us play this year because of the fun style we are going to have.”
– Emanuel Sequeira is Director of Communications for the KIJHL