Earlier today, Revelstoke celebrated the local Junior B team and Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) 2019 Champions, the Revelstoke Grizzlies, downtown.
The event was kicked off with the Grizzlies walking with full police escort down MacKenzie Avenue to the Grizzly Plaza, where fans of all ages were waiting to greet them. Local EZ Rock Radio host and Grizzlies supporter Shaun Aquiline MC’d and a couple of players spoke on behalf of the team. A prayer and moment of silence was observed in memory of the Humboldt Bronco hockey players who lost their lives in a bus crash one year ago today. Afterwards, local kids, volunteers, and fans (including the enthusiastic ‘Aussie’ group) came up for pictures with the players.
Local Grizzlies player #88, Ullar Wiatza, is a born and raised Revelstokian who started playing with the Revelstoke Minor Hockey Association at the Novice level. He has been on the Grizzlies for four years.
“Being league champions feels pretty great,” he says. “We had a good season all around. We had the best start in league history, so that was special right off the bat.”
This was Wiatzka’s last season on the team, and a fine way to finish his hockey career. “I think I’m going to go to school in Kelowna next,” says Wiatza. “I might do a bachelors in Kinesiology and then see where that takes me.”
The parade and celebration was organized by the Revelstoke RCMP, the Revelstoke Grizzlies and the Booster Club and managed to celebrated the Grizzlies while still being tempered with respect for the Humboldt tragedy.
“We felt that winning a championship should be honoured,” explains Cpl. Thomas Blakney of the Revelstoke RCMP detachment. “The fans in our community have been so great over the years. Ryan Parent, the Grizzlies head coach, has been great for the community.”
“Last year on April 6th there was a tragedy that killed sixteen people. The Grizzlies found out part way through the first period in the KIJHL championship game against the Dynamiters that a tragedy had happened,” Cpl. Blakney says. “The players on both teams respectfully played through and our team unfortunately didn’t win. Kimberley celebrated on our turf. So thursday night this year, we got to celebrate on their turf. Here we are, a year to the date, playing tribute to Humboldt and at the same time paying tribute to our team.”