The Spokane Braves will not participate in the 2022/23 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season, the league has announced.
The decision comes after the Braves alerted the KIJHL that they would not be able to commit to operating by an August 1st deadline that had previously been set to determine their status.
“The Braves have been working hard over the last number of months in preparation to rejoin the KIJHL this fall and celebrate their 50th season,” says Commissioner Jeff Dubois. “The Braves’ primary challenge has been recruiting players at a time when athletes and team staff must be fully vaccinated in order to enter into Canada. Despite their best efforts, the Braves look unlikely to be able to fill a roster of players who meet that requirement, and we reached a point where a decision needed to be made as to whether our season would proceed with or without Spokane. To be clear, we fully support those measures that have been taken to keep our communities safe from COVID, and we look forward to the Spokane Braves rejoining the KIJHL as soon as they are able to do so.”
“The Spokane Braves are very disappointed that we will not be hitting the ice in September as planned,” says Braves owner Bob Tobiason. “We thank all our volunteers, sponsors and prospective players for their continued understanding and patience, and we remain committed to competing as the KIJHL’s lone American team in 2023.”
As a result of Spokane’s withdrawal, the KIJHL has made a number of adjustments to its 2022/23 regular season schedule.
The five Bill Ohlhausen Division teams that were originally scheduled to visit Spokane this season will instead play an additional road game against a Doug Birks Division opponent. For Doug Birks Division teams, these additional games will replace home games previously scheduled against the Braves. These five games are as follows:
- Friday, October 28th: Kelowna Chiefs at Revelstoke Grizzlies
- Saturday, October 29th: Princeton Posse at Sicamous Eagles
- Friday, December 9th: Osoyoos Coyotes at Chase Heat
- Saturday, December 10th: North Okanagan Knights at 100 Mile House Wranglers
- Saturday December 17th: Summerland Steam at Kamloops Storm
The five Eddie Mountain Division teams that were scheduled to play two games each against Spokane will instead make up those games against divisional opponents. These five games are as follows:
- Tuesday, January 10th: Fernie Ghostriders at Creston Valley Thunder Cats
- Tuesday, January 31st: Creston Valley Thunder Cats at Kimberley Dynamiters
- Sunday, February 5th: Kimberley Dynamiters at Golden Rockets
- To Be Announced: Columbia Valley Rockies at Fernie Ghostriders
- To Be Announced: Golden Rockets at Columbia Valley Rockies
Two additional games between Eddie Mountain Division and Neil Murdoch Division opponents have been rescheduled:
- Friday, November 4th: Golden Rockets at Beaver Valley Nitehawks (previously scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 6th)
- Friday, November 18th: Columbia Valley Rockies at Castlegar Rebels (previously scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 20th)
The four remaining Neil Murdoch Division teams — the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Castlegar Rebels, Grand Forks Border Bruins and Nelson Leafs — will make up their six cancelled games against Spokane by playing two additional games (one home and one away) against each divisional opponents. These games have been added to the KIJHL master schedule, which can be viewed here.
Adjustments to the Kootenay Conference playoff format will be announced at a later date.