Jora Dhami has seen jerseys hang from the rafters in hockey rinks.
“You wonder that player must have been really good. That is the reason their number is up in the rafters,” says Dhami.
Golden Rockets governor Dan Ringheim says over the years, Golden fans and those involved with the Rockets have gathered for coffee and talked hockey. The conversations always came back to the same thing.
“Who do you think was the greatest player that ever played for the Rockets. I think it was unanimous when Jora’s name came up. Not just as a Rocket, as a born and raised boy in Golden that made it into the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL). And really turned heads both on and off the ice as a great person,” says Ringheim, who has been involved with the organization for 20 years.
For that reason Dhami will have his No. 7 retired and it’s an honour he appreciates and what the Rockets have done for him.
“I would like to thank the Golden Rockets organization, coach Jeremy Blumes, Dan Ringheim and Pavi Khunkhun for organizing the upcoming jersey retirement night,” he says.
A jersey retirement ceremony will take place at Plywood Palace on Nov. 23 against the Nelson Leafs. It’s a moment that will be celebrated with Golden’s Indo-Canadian community and Hockey Night in Punjabi will be there. Dhami joins Billy Fritzen, who played five years in Golden, and had his No. 22 retired a few years ago, but is currently being worn by Alex Johnson, while rookie Sean Allen wears Dhami’s old number.
Dhami was part of a group of local players that debuted with the Rockets in their inaugural KIJHL season in 1991. Dhami made the KIJHL all-star team, won Rookie of the Year and was named league most valuable player. Dhami says it was a dream to play for the Rockets, but especially junior hockey.
“When the opportunity came to play for the Rockets, that was the best thing that could happen,” says Dhami. “It helped with the familiarity with the rink. Our first year coach, I had him a few years on minor hockey. That helped coming into the league. Just getting home every night … the same meals. It was really good. A lot of familiarity and that helped me be comfortable on the ice.”
Dhami anticipates a fun atmosphere at the rink, especially with Hockey Night in Punjabi part of it. There will be a Punjabi ceremony at the end of the first period with Indo-Canadian dancers as well as food served.
“I think the biggest thing is going to be is once they do the announcement, then that is sort of going to hit me. That it is actually happening right. That is going to be the biggest moment,” says Dhami, who wore 7 because it was his favourite number. “When they introduce myself and some of my achievements. That will probably be the best part of it.”
Their are personal and team highlights Dhami has. He scored 54 goals in 40 games. He hit 50 in 34 games.
“The town was pretty excited for that one. The next biggest was the 100th point of the season. Scoring the first home goal. That was a really memorable moment,” says Dhami, who followed his 54 goals season with 46.
The team highlight he recalls is advancing to the second round. They trailed the Columbia Valley Rockies 3-0 and forced game seven. They lost the deciding game, 4-3.
Dhami went on to play briefly with the WHL’s Regina Pats, but injured his ankle. Instead of returning to play, Dhami focused on education from the encouragement of his late grandfather. Dhami has a bachelors in economics and is a financial manager for Westlab in the Lower Mainland. He is also involved with the family hotel business. They own and operate Ramada and Marriott Hotels in Revelstoke.
While in the KIJHL, Dhami said he picked up valuable lessons that help him today.
“I learned a lot about teamwork. Learn about the ups and downs, so adversity,” he says. “You can translate that kind of stuff into work environment.”
His advice for KIJHL players now is to enjoy the moment.
“It seems like it’s going to be a long career, a year or two is what your junior career is for most,” he says. “Make the most of it. Enjoy your time and work hard. Take that experience on to the next path of your career. Whatever it may be.”