The Vice President of the Eddie Mountain Division is reflecting on her season as the league’s championship finals between the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Chase Heat play out.
Kathy Merkel worked with the Kimberley Dynamiters for close to 25 years, but has just wrapped her first campaign overseeing the five different Kootenay teams.
Merkel looks after the Kimberley Dynamiters, Fernie Ghostriders, Columbia Valley Rockies, Creston Valley Thunder Cats and Golden Rockets.
She says it was the perfect year to get started, full of exciting hockey, adding that all the teams were strong and the games between them amazing.
Merkel tried to as get to as many divisional match ups as possible and is glad she was able to do it, because she never knew who was going to win.
The VP believes there is a lot of good hockey coming out of the Eddie Mountain.
Merkel feels one of the year’s highlights was watching the unlikely emergence of the Kimberley Dynamiters.
The Nitros were supposed to be in a rebuild year explains Merkel, with a new coach and losing over half of their veteran team at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
They ended up in second place in the division during the regular season and moved on all the way to battle the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the Kootenay Conference Finals.
Merkel believes the successes shown by the Dynamiters were above and beyond what anyone in the league expected.
In addition to the debit of Merkel as VP, the 2016-17 regular season was also the first time the KIJHL trialed the removal of games played between teams in the Kootenay and Okanagan Conferences.
Merkel explains she has heard resounding hope from teams, coaches and players around the league that crossover play returns and feels the same way herself.
A self-proclaimed champion for all five of her teams, Merkel says she can’t wait to watch the Creston Valley Thunder Cats host the Cyclone Taylor Cup, BC Provincial Championships April 6-9.
The VP knows Coach Jeff Dubois has prepared a competitive team and expects to see some amazing hockey.
VP Eddie Mountain, Kathy Merkel –
– Keira O’Loughlin