The Fort Nelson Yeti Senior Men’s Hockey team has been searching for a stamp of approval for a while now.
It started with numerous applications to the North Peace Hockey League, which have been turned down, but that didn’t deter the franchise from looking elsewhere to show the B.C. hockey community the dedication their northern town has to the game.
The moment of recognition came earlier this week, when the Yeti found out that they would be the host of the 2015 Coy Cup, a Senior AA men’s hockey tournament that the team competed in last year and saw an opportunity to host after that experience.
“We’ve been really hoping for it a month now, that’s what we were planning towards after attending last year [in Williams Lake],” said captain, general manager, and director Ryan Carter. “We were extremely happy that we were able to host it this year. There is a lot of excitement in town and to be able to host this soon into our organization is a real accomplishment already.”
Carter believes the event will be both a showcase for the community, and the calibre of hockey that the Yeti bring to the table.
“I think it just really establishes ourselves in town. Without being in a league, the hardest part is really showing everyone that we are for real and that we are building towards something,” he said. “Having this tournament here, being able to show off our new arena and our support in town I think will really help establish ourselves and hopefully the North Peace Hockey League looks at that down the road or it helps creates some opportunities down the road.”
For the community it looks to be the biggest sporting event that they have hosted since the 1992 Northern B.C. Winter Games, and for that reason, team president Dean Larson is looking forward to bringing the tournament to Fort Nelson.
“We have tremendous community support, our fans and sponsors are second to none. Fort Nelson and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has a long history of being great event hosts. We can guarantee a tremendous tournament for all participating teams,” Larson said in a BC Hockey press release.
The development also looks good for the Fort St. John Senior Flyers, who are excited that the tournament will come close to home, but also for the Yeti to finally receive some recognition.
“I’m excited that they got it,” Flyers general manger Lee Hartman said. “I think it’s great for Fort Nelson, I’m really happy for them because they’ve been putting a good program together there and they haven’t had any luck getting into our league [NPHL].”
According to Hartman, it looks like the Flyers will have an inside track at earning a spot in the tournament that will take place from March 25-28 next year.
“We were hoping they would [get it] because it gives us an opportunity to participate, there has been some talk of us having to have a play down with Whitehorse if they can get a team together,” Hartman explained.
Although BC hockey hasn’t yet determined how the qualification process will work or who is eligible, and won’t do so until they see what team’s will be playing Senior AA hockey this year.
The Coy Cup has been around since 1922 when it was first awarded to the Enderby Hockey Club and Colonel Coy of the 50th Gordon Highlanders donated the trophy. Lat year the tournament was hosted in Williams Lake and has been won over the last several years by teams from Interior B.C.